Automate It! How Successful Companies use Software to ‘Green’ Industry

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It’s no secret: businesses who build durable internal systems breed long term and sustainable profits.

In fact, the rule on the street, and this applies to enterprising green businesses who are past their mainstream ‘breaking point’ and are now swimming with the rest of the so-called ‘sharks’, is often ‘automate or perish’.

But automation (business speak for “doing it better and faster”) is hardly a Darwinian one-way street – eco-minded companies are benefiting more than just their own bottom line by developing or partnering to develop software that automates green decision making: they are greening entire industries.

And, the three who are doing it – Green Printer, Workforce Software and Sustainable Minds – have a lot to share on what it takes to get there.

Green Printer
In January 2008, the largest printing company in North America, Quebecor, filed for bankruptcy. Despite the struggling and some argue, slowly dying commercial print industry, Green Printer remained unfazed.

“In light of where the [print] industry is, the fact that a commercial printer like us grew to 2,000 clients since we began one year ago is a major achievement,” says the Green Printer’ s founder and Vice-President Alen Rokolj. Using sources from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Green Printer also estimates its customers saved 74,645 pounds of greenhouse gases and 38,116 pounds of solid waste since the eco-friendly printing company opened in June 2007.

But Green Printer is not ready to stop there. This October 2008, print shops across North America will be offered the Green Printer (“licensor”) brand and the full line of recycled papers to its customers.

Besides being able to benefit from Green Printer’s proprietary, high volume online ordering software with Google capabilities to automatically track shipment orders, generate quotes 24/7 and identify venues to print locally (thus saving transportation-driven greenhouse gases), licensees or affiliates in Green Printer’s brand would be able to benefit from the change of purchase habits of large-scale, national print buyers.

Workforce Software EmpCenter
WorkForce Software, the recipient of the Deloitte Technologies Fast 500
and Entrepreneur’s Hot 500 awards, recognized how the price of gas and concern with climate change was impacting offices across the country. Today, the company, who achieved more than 200% growth in revenue and profits in last three years, is tapping into the one of the fastest growing – but hardly new – ‘trends’ in the green workplace: telecomuniting.

WorkForce Software’s EmpCenter “helps organizations feel confident with their decision to have remote employees by providing controls to better manage compliance and other regulations,” says President and CEO Kevin Choksi.

Sustainable Minds and Autodesk Inventor
The impressive team at Sustainable Minds, a green product design software and information service, recently partnered with Autodesk, Inc.

In practice, the new partnership is set to impact the product design industry in a big way. Terry Swack, CEO and co-founder of Sustainable Minds says that, “for the first time, product design teams will be able to estimate the environmental and human health impacts of their design decisions and have quantitative results early in the concept stage, so that they can design greener products from the start before considerable time, cost and resources are irreversibly committed.”

Big Toys, Inc., a manufacturer of environmentally friendly, PVC-free and 100% recycled commercial play ground equipment, is already using Autodesk’s digital prototyping to lessen their company’s environmental footprint.