HARBEC has developed an internal Eco-Economic model for evaluating the costs and benefits of all technologies, equipment, and projects that relate to business objectives for achieving carbon neutrality. HARBEC’s Eco-Economic model is also a deliberate tool to ensure that the business always achieves financial value from its investments, so that goals for environmental, energy, social, and sustainable impact do not interfere with the ability of the business to achieve desired financial performance.By incorporating Eco-Economic decision criteria into its purchase of energy efficiency measures HARBEC has been able to use “energy dollars” or those dollars which would have been spent on electricity (kWh) and gas (therms) from the utility toward high-value energy efficiency improvements. The result of this unique approach has been significant. HARBEC has been able to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs by offsetting what they would have paid for energy if they had not made Eco-Economic analytical choices on energy improvements. The HARBEC journey to eco-economic sustainability came about from the personal desire of its owner, Bob Bechtold, to be environmentally responsible. After a number of years of failure to make progress in funding projects due to the unspoken, but eventually obvious, opinions held by most contemporary business people and lending institutions, a new plan needed to be implemented. This new strategy would have to overcome the preconceived notion that environmentalists were “tree-huggers” or “burned-out hippies,” but not serious, competent business people. In order to circumvent this stereotype, a plan was developed to redefine every thought, goal and resulting project idea— to an economic value perspective. The other e word (eco or environmental), while still the driving force, would not be mentioned again. This change was more than a decade ago, before we had any eco-economic successes to report and before sustainability and eco-economics were the topics of major institutional and business conferences. Here are some of our presentations capturing our endeavors:

There Are Economic Advantages to Being Green—For Us and For You

We Strive to Minimize Price Increases At HARBEC, we’re smart decision makers when it comes to our overall business impact and profitability. Before investing in any solution, environmental or other, we undertake significant due diligence efforts to determine if they are cost effective and will result in positive return on investment. As a result, we’ve learned how to save money while becoming green. We know that, when it comes to energy savings, all of our decisions positively impact our bottom line because we do it all in-house. Our wind turbine allows us to predict future energy costs today. More specifically, we know what at least 10-15% of our energy costs will be 25 years from now. In an economy where electricity and natural gas prices are far outpacing the rate of inflation, this is not an idle claim. Insuring the ability to control a significant portion of operating expense helps HARBEC to maintain a competitive edge. Additional advantages of this include:

  • Economic: As electric utility costs rise in the future, HARBEC’s ROI on this equipment is shortened—due to the increased value of what HARBEC is displacing
  • Environmental: Every year, 375 tons of CO2 emissions are not put into the atmosphere

We also have energy hedging systems. Our generators can run in either of two modes: thermal or electrical priority. This allows us to hedge our costs. When natural gas costs tripled, we moved to thermal priority. If gas costs fluctuate again, we have the flexibility to switch back and maintain our economic advantage. Our competitors are well aware of the fact that we’re getting increased work because of our environmental efforts but they don’t typically realize that we’re saving money for our customers in the process. Sadly, there are certain things we can’t control—such as market pricing for raw materials. However, where we can control costs, we do. We Strive to Improve the Bottom Line Reluctance of manufacturers to be environmentally proactive is misguided. Environmental management is economically good business: good for the bottom line as well as for the earth. Many environmental efforts require little or no costs to initiate and have immediate paybacks, such as preventive maintenance, recycling and energy conservation. Some environmental programs require more capital to implement, but long term, will not only recoup the initial costs, but may make the business more competitive than those businesses who are burdened with poor environmental management costs. As resources dwindle, costs will soar, inhibiting affordable manufacturing unless alternative resources are found. We Embrace the Triple Bottom Line HARBEC embraces a philosophy called the “Triple Bottom Line.” This theory emphasizes the importance of considering three main concepts within business:

  • People: Fair and beneficial practices toward the employees and the community that we operate in that insure a safe and healthy work place and a positive impact on the neighborhood, exploiting or endangering no one.
  • Planet: Sustainable manufacturing practices that benefit the natural order by doing no harm and curtailing environmental impact by reducing the ecological footprint
  • Profit: The lasting economic benefit an organization has on its economic condition, ideally, should not be confused with internal profit of the organization.