HP's business travel costs fell by 43 percent after the company deployed videoconferencing technology to reduce its carbon footprint.
Meanwhile, selling green products and improving the efficiency of its stores and fleet generated Marks & Spencer some £50 million in net revenue last year.
HP and Marks & Spencer are among the companies highlighted in a new report from the Carbon Disclosure Project that examines the question: Should carbon management be a strategic priority for companies?
It explores the business case for 10 large companies that have put carbon management near the top of their agendas. For these companies, whose annual revenues top $1 billion, carbon management has helped them reduce a range of long-term business risks that may one day threaten their bottom lines.
But carbon management has also improved their bottom lines in the near-term because of the inefficiencies exposed and eliminated in their operations as a result of reduced emissions. It also opened new revenue streams from selling products and services that offer other businesses and consumers a means to reduce their own carbon footprints and save money, according to the report, which was produced by research firm Verdantix.
"Verdantix interviews with heads of sustainability and carbon management programs has found that in some cases senior executives were unaware of the full scale of energy costs until a carbon management program was initiated," the report said.
Carbon management has also helped these companies to hedge their risks against energy supply disruptions, either through energy efficiency measures or by firms generating renewable onsite, such as solar power arrays.
Evolving social and market expectations have played a role in pushing carbon management higher onto corporate agendas. For example, firms in the report view carbon management as a tool to attract new talent and engage employees, while companies are also facing pressure to manage their carbon footprints from competitors, investors, business customers and consumers.
Firms in the report expect the strategic importance of carbon management to grow over the next 10 years due to increasing energy costs, sustainability weightings in procurement criteria, and the fallout from an increase in climate change impacts.
Companies taking the initiative now to manage their carbon footprints are reaping the rewards, as exemplified by HP and Marks & Spencer. They are identifying and addressing carbon hotpots within their organizations, optimizing supply chain and logistics, and reducing recycling and materials inefficiencies.