How Online Learning Can Get You Closer to Being a Green Business

by | Apr 20, 2011

Green business is big business. Being labeled a green business has rapidly moved from an afterthought to the top of the priority list, and while there are multitudes of ways to help your company be more sustainable, some of the easiest and most effective steps involve altering existing business practices.  The globalization of the business model, with branches sprawled across regions and countries, has made implementing an effective and consistent learning management program necessary for uniformity across offices.  However, the costs associated with most training programs are exorbitant, including time, resources, and material costs. Online learning systems have evolved as a potential solution to the training problem. By using an online learning management system, the costs created by traditional systems can be radically reduced, allowing your business to streamline processes while reducing your carbon footprint.

Material Costs

The first and probably most obvious benefit of transitioning to an online LMS is the incredible amount of paper that can be saved. Traditionally, it has been common to print out manuals with company practices or supplying training centers with textbooks, each of which can end up serving as a vacuum of paper waste. Even with the advent of the digital age, it has been estimated that 99 million tons of paper products are consumed in the US each year, and online learning programs are a great way to help reduce your company’s contribution to that number. Through online resources, these textbooks and manuals can be completely eliminated from print form and reformatted for online download and digital e-readers. Not only can your employees now view their training manuals on their e-readers, but the modes of updating the information are much easier. This eliminates waste from having to reprint out of date copies of texts, handouts, or training notebooks. Not only is paper waste reduced by creating digital formats of textbooks and manuals, but the amount of ink and electricity used to print various texts and handouts will be be eliminated. Traditional classrooms have already caught onto the paper reduction trend, replacing old chalkboards and textbooks with interactive whiteboards and computers.  The material cost for most items can be dramatically reduced and the space needed to store all of these resources will also be minimized.


The most valuable resource a company owns is employee time. Another big benefit of online training programs is the elimination of travel associated with traditional instruction programs. By allowing employees to work online virtually anywhere, the need for students or instructors to travel to different learning sites or conferences is minimized, yet the flow of communication between instructors and students is not impaired with online learning programs. Instead, communication channels can be expanded to include online lecture videos, message boards, and instant messaging applications – all without the need for face-to-face interaction. The incorporation of online programs helps save immense monetary travel costs while reducing environmental costs by cutting back on travel related to training seminars and courses. By eliminating the need for training-based travel, you can increase company productivity while diminishing the carbon footprint associated with cars, planes, and other travel related emissions.

A final incentive for switching to online learning is the removal of the need for training-specific company facilities. Without the requirement for extra physical facilities generated by in the classroom learning, your company can save a great amount of resources by more efficiently using space and supplies. Not only is travel eliminated, but the energy for air conditioning, lighting, and water the building will use is erased from your company output. The reduction of training specific offices helps to save resources your company can repurpose elsewhere or reduce demand altogether. Standalone offices also require their own office supplies, computers, desks, and more, but by implementing virtual training centers you can eliminate extra financial and environmental costs. Universities incorporating online programs into their education programs have been able to save so much since they no longer have to provide additional physical resources for online students.

Transitioning to online learning is a great approach to accomplish your company’s environmental sustainability goals while simultaneously improving its training processes. You can reduce your company’s carbon footprint by streamlining environmental costs, reducing supply waste and unnecessary travel, and eliminating the general upkeep of training facilities. Switching to online learning programs is one of the easiest, and most cost effective, ways to help achieve sustainability goals.

Emily McClendon is an environmental marketing specialist currently working at NeboWeb. She has a B.S. in Applied Biology from Georgia Institute of Technology and is currently pursuing her M.C.R.P. in Environmental Planning, also at Georgia Institute of Technology. She believes that communication and shared knowledge are the most important facets of conveying environmentally friendly practices. After participating in biological research, inter disciplinary planning, and interactive marketing, she is convinced a comprehensive approach is the only solution for creating a sustainable economy.

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