The "gold" that smart companies mine from being green includes higher revenues, lower operational costs, and even lower lending rates from banks that see reduced risk in companies with carefully constructed environmental management systems. They also reap soft benefits, from a more innovative culture to enhanced "intangible" value, credibility, and brand trust.
Scholars and pundits have noted that businesses now face a world where traditional elements of competitive advantage, such as access to cheaper raw materials and lower cost of capital, have been commoditized and whittled away. On this altered playing field, going green offers a vital new path to innovation and to creating enduring value and competitive advantage. Nike executive Phil Berry puts it simply: "We have two maxims. Number 1: It is our nature to innovate. Number 2: Do the right thing. But everything we do around sustainability is really about number one—it's all about innovation."
—Daniel C. Esty and Andrew S. Winston in Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage (2006, Yale University Press)