All nations of the 21st century face an enormous challenge—quickly and successfully making the transition from a primarily carbon-intensive economy to one based on renewable energy sources. Climate change and the serious impacts of global warming are no longer a hypothesis. In fact, many leading researchers warn that climate change was severely underestimated in the last decade, with some going so far as saying it's already game over and all we can do is mitigate the worst impacts. And with a new president-elect pledging to reverse some of the country's most important climate-change policies, it's understandable that more than a few people are polishing their pitchforks.
That said, it is important to note that renewable energy solutions are not a bipartisan issue. Take for example the unique uniting of Georgia's conservative-leaning Tea Party with the more liberal-backed Sierra Club in 2012. Together, these two groups lobbied against Georgia's Public Service Commission to require the state to provide more solar power. Today, Georgia is a model state for solar power, doubling the solar generation of its neighbor and so-called Sunshine State despite having just half of Florida's population.
The move towards renewable energy sources like solar and wind are things that the environment needs and that the people are clamoring for. Should regulations roll back, it will be up to businesses and industries to push forward and meet the demands of the country. And such is not an impossible goal. In fact, many industries will find renewable energy sources to be the much more economical option as well as popular.
Consider the following three industries that stand to benefit (or are already benefiting) from renewable energy sources:
1. Banking Industry
If there is any industry an entrepreneur can rely on for smart investment choices, it is the banking industry, and it is this industry that stands at the forefront of the green movement. Take, for instance, TD Bank. TD Bank has instituted a unique three-step approach to environmental sustainability, a strategy that led it to become the first North American-based bank to become carb neutral in 2010—a title that has maintained over the last six years and one that can and should be pursued by other banking and financial institutions.
To replicate TD Bank's success, other institutions need only to look at the company's three-step strategy. This tiered approach to carbon neutrality begins with an emphasis on energy efficiency such as upgrading all lights—interior and exterior—to LED lighting and decreasing business travel. Following steps aim at generating renewable energy via solar installations and purchasing renewable energy credits to invest in more clean energy to further offset necessary carbon usage.
2. Computer Training Centers
Tech-oriented firms, like those in the computer training business are among good company when it comes to green initiatives. Apple Inc. now uses 100% of renewable energy sources to power its data centers while Tesla's Gigafactory, the world's largest lithium-ion battery factory, operates at an actual 20% surplus of green energy. With such big names leading the charge, it is up to the computer training franchise to follow up and train a new generation of tech-savvy individuals to keep it green.
A computer centers can do this by learning from tech giants and incorporating solar panels atop their business locations and tap into locally-sourced wind turbine energy. Managers of a computer training centers should upgrade lights to LED models, recycle energy-intensive old computers, and instead invest in low-energy electronics.
3. Waste Management Industry
The field of post-consumer waste management isn't one that gets a lot of headlines. It's a dirty, smelly by-product of American society, but one most people would rather be hidden in someone else's backyard. However, this is a $75 billion industry that could gain so much more than nominal benefits from renewable energy sources. With the right know-how, this industry could become renewable energy itself and skyrocket its profitability.
The secret sauce is in the natural gas—and not the kind that calls for drills. Rather, as solid waste decomposes in a landfill, it releases an average of 300 cubic feet of gas per minute. This gas, comprised of more than 50% methane, can be captured and used to turn generators to produce electricity. Some waste management companies are even processing this renewable natural gas so that it can be used to fuel their truck fleets and other heavy machinery.
In the end, we all stand to benefit from such innovations and renewable energy business implementation.