In the 2012 report by Nordic Innovation, they studied a sample of twenty-nine cases of which only six have empirical data relevant to the reduction of environmental impacts of their business model. There could be many reasons as to why businesses don’t have this data on hand. Either they don’t have the conscience that their business model is greener, they might not have a basis of comparison to another business model, or simply, they do not measure the environmental data of their business. From the small sample size of six, the report has little to show in the way of Factor 10 or Factor 20 environmental impact reductions.
This lack of data is partly why the experts behind this most recent report affirm that environmental impacts of green business models are not as clear as intuitively expected. On the other hand, 100% of the twenty-nine cases have made or will make environmental improvements because of their business models, just not in the vicinity of 90% reductions. Also, because the improvements stem from their business model, it helps to maintain this improvement in the long run. It is said that business models can create an incentive for efforts to reduce energy use through shared savings. Renting or sharing models encourage durable products and can take advantage of remanufacturing to reduce material volumes (Halme et al., 2007).
One of the problems is that services can also be environmentally problematic, and therefore, special attention should be given to design less environmentally damaging services (Mont and Lindhqvist, 2003). Again, there are no guarantees that business model transformation in the form of services can automatically insure environmental reductions. Inversely, when an outcome such as environmental benefits is desired, an organization must be design for it. When reviewing how the subject of product service system business models had evolved, Mont and Tukker (2006) claimed that a lack of design guidance on how to develop systems that are environmentally sound. Today, there are dissertations that research how to manage the transition to green business models (Statema, 2011), (Sommer, 2012).
From this most recent study, we learn that empirical environmental evidence is not as readily available in the twenty-nine firms that were studied in the Nordic Innovation report. It would seem that the environmental improvement is now integrated since only six of the twenty-nine had environmental data. It would be hasty to conclude that those few companies demonstrated mostly Factor 4 improvements. In the end, this report didn’t have for objective to demonstrate the extent of environmental benefits but rather the “conceptualization, next practice and policy”. For the purposes of this paper on the evolution of evidence supporting environmentally beneficial business model, we foresee a tendency in research to move on past the potential improvement debate to the empirical practice of instituting this transition.