It's fun to predict what's going to happen. The risk of being spectacularly wrong is very high, but that's what makes the exercise so entertaining.

First, let's quickly consider what we learned in 2008—that de-leveraging is really painful and when gas prices are high, people want smaller cars—and pontificate about what to expect in 2009.

For my predictions, I'll stick to my area of knowledge: the greening of business.

Over the past two years "green" has become part of nearly every serious business discussion. But what will happen now in this damaged economy? It would be silly to suggest that the intensity of the focus on green will continue unabated. But we'll see a form of what I'll call "light green" this year.

Some of the green pressure on companies will lessen, but the underlying forces driving the green wave will continue over the coming years—from volatile commodity prices (which will rise again aggressively after the recession) to a rise in transparency to tougher questions from key stakeholders (such as your business customers, consumers, and employees).

Those big picture trends will continue over years, but here now a few specific predictions for 2009.

"Light Green" will focus primarily on cost reduction...

Going green drives innovation and creates value in four fundamental ways: cost reduction, risk mitigation, revenue growth, and brand value enhancement. But for 2009, the top priority will be the first one, lowering costs (primarily through so-called "eco-efficiency").

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image of Andrew Winston

Andrew Winston helps companies use environmental thinking to grow and prosper. He is coauthor of the best-seller Green to Gold and regularly blogs on green business.

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