Sustainable business

3 Predictions for a More Sustainable Future

By Jason Walter

Predicting the future is a very inexact science, particularly when it comes to small businesses.

Consider this example: Imagine if someone tried to convince you about the merits of “cloud computing” in 2006. Back then, the logic would have sounded foggy at best. But a few brave visionaries predicted the cloud would change the way we work, and the future has proven it so.

Now let’s skip ahead to today.

What does the future hold for California businesses? Well, we won’t try and predict the next cloud, but there are some very exciting developments happening in the area of sustainable business practices.

With that in mind, here are 3 predictions for a more sustainable future.

1. Biomimicry Teaches Natural Lessons in Sustainability
Just as cloud computing sounded strange back in 2006, the term “biomimcry” raises a few eyebrows today. You may even be asking:

What is biomimicry?

Let’s start with the definition. According to the Biomimcry Institute, “Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.”1

Simply put, nature is, well, sustainable by nature and we can all learn some lessons from that.

Want proof? Consider the self-cooling termite mounds that maintain their interior temperature to within one degree while temperatures outside soar and drop. Or the “immortal jellyfish,” which can regenerate its own cells and live indefinitely.

These and other natural adaptations are being leveraged to develop more sustainable buildings, better transportation, smarter medicine and a full range of sustainable solutions.

Nature is holding a master class in time-honored sustainability lessons that we humans should continue mimicking in practice.

2. New Technology Creates a Portable Solar World
Predicting a more widespread use of solar energy isn’t risky, it’s common sense.

Today in California, solar is a viable part of the energy mix. In fact, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has helped customers connect more solar systems than any other utility in the country. But the potential for this sustainable energy source is yet to be achieved.

The future will expand the possibilities for using solar energy in unexpected ways. That means new opportunities for businesses to become more sustainable and reduce their energy expenses. In fact, the next generation of solar cells are making this a portable solar world.

New types of solar cells that are in development are only 10% as thick as standard cells. This smaller size unlocks the possibility for solar technology to be used in many more applications. Even more compelling is the fact that these new solar cells consume an estimated 100 times less silicon to produce the same amount of electricity compared to standard cells.2

What does a portable solar world mean for businesses? It means employees coming to meetings with solar-powered laptops, smartphones and tablets. Smaller solar cells also open the door to solar-powered vehicles that will make our commuting and business travel more sustainable. Combine this with enhancements in energy storage and this technology will bring us closer to the day when solar-powered facilities redefine the idea of a sustainable business.

On a personal note, I already use a solar charger backpack for my phone. I find it’s truly helpful during travels because that’s the time I’m most often on my phone and need an extra charge to keep it going.

To learn more about putting solar energy to work for your business today, visit the solar energy page on

3. Sustainable Lighting Illuminates the Future
When you think of more sustainable lighting, what comes to mind? Chances are light-emitting diode or LED technology might be the answer that many business owners give. That’s because LED lighting is simply a smarter and more sustainable way to illuminate interior and exterior spaces.

But the projected future growth of LED lighting and its many uses might surprise you. In fact, LED lighting is forecast to represent over 75% of all lighting sales by 2030.3 Businesses are certainly seeing its potential.

There are a number of reasons why ENERGY STAR-qualified LED interior lighting is becoming the choice of forward-thinking businesses. It uses at least 75% less energy and lasts 20 times longer than incandescent lighting. In fact, it can have a lifespan of 12 years or more.4

All of that bodes very well for the growth of sustainable lighting. So do the increasing outdoor applications for LED lighting.

For example, businesses with exterior lighting are discovering that LED fixtures actually provide better control over the areas covered by light. That means much more of the produced light will cover its intended target areas. The future will lend itself to more LED lighting use in parking lots and garages, high-traffic exterior walkways, loading dock doors and recreational areas.

With all of this momentum, it’s easy to predict that sustainable lighting options will be the preferred choice in the future.

Now that we've explored some predictions for a more sustainable future, it's time to see some sustainable products businesses can use today and learn some energy saving tips in the process. It all starts when you download PG&E's new eBook, "20 Sustainable Products to Help Businesses Save Money and Energy."

  1. Biomimicry Institute
  2. Alternative Energy News
  3. U.S. Department of Energy

Learn 3 predictions about a more sustainable future for California businesses:
  • SMB Blog Author
    Jason Walter
    Senior Marketing Manager for commercial programs at PG&E. With a focus on integrating solutions, he takes a systems thinking approach to the development and rollout of energy management programs. Jason is an advocate for generating energy efficiencies and sustainable solutions for PG&E's customers, and within the company itself.

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