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Business sees green in energy savings

July 20, 2007 - MONICA HATCHER

In the effort to clean the atmosphere of toxic carbon pollution, business leaders meeting Friday at the Summit on Global Climate Change seemed to agree that going green means more of the green stuff in the future.

''What's good for the environment is good for business,'' said Lorraine Bolsinger, a vice president with GE, who spoke along with business representatives on two panels at the summit that ends later Friday.

Her sentiment was echoed by directors from some of the country's top corporations and investment interests, such as Wal-Mart and Lehman Brothers, who touted the financial savings that come with implementing energy efficiency and recycling programs. They also discussed policy initiatives that would lead to increased conservation efforts and innovation.

The recognition that long-term growth and profitability will come from creating more environmentally friendly companies represents a sea change in thinking in the business community, some said. Until recently, efforts to reduce energy consumption were seen as costly and offering few rewards.

Ed Crenshaw, president of Publix, said his company had reduced electrical usage in its stores by 7 percent since 2002, saving enough energy to power 44,000 single-family homes. He also said Publix had recycled more than 209,000 tons of cardboard and 7,600 tons of plastic.

''We've made millions from that,'' Crenshaw said.