General view of the Samsung stand at the Mobile World Congress taken on February 27, 2012 in Barcelona.

A merging of major cultural and business trends is driving change in energy consumption patterns and in product design at major international manufacturers, with energy efficiency, consumer concerns about environmental impacts and shifting investor perceptions of corporate transparency all playing a role.

Sustainability is not a choice for major international firms any more, and South Korea-based conglomerate Samsung says its manufacturing processes and its products are no exception.

“We recognize that as a manufacturer we have a big opportunity to improve our footprint, and that is good for our company as well,” Executive Vice President for Corporate Strategy David Steel told Breaking Energy recently. “Companies are being held to a higher degree of sustainability and transparency and there is that expectation for large multinationals.”

“We do see consumers as being willing to pay more for green goods,” Steel said; a growing proportion of consumers are ready to pay a premium for targeted products released around a particular environmental message, like phones made from recyclable or organic plastics, he said.

For many companies and consumers, the benefits of energy efficiency moves are just self-evident, Steel said, especially as smart phones enable sustained access to real-time data that was difficult to keep up with in earlier technology iterations. Larger-scale energy consumers, including Samsung itself, have seen the benefits of investment in energy efficiency and demand response programs.

We do see consumers as being willing to pay more for green goods,” – Steel

“When it comes to energy consumption it is a cost driver more than anything: High prices drive consumer reduction and creates pressure from consumers and business,” Steel said.

Samsung has a multi-pronged effort to boost transparency around the resources and energy it consumes, the products it ships to consumers and the way it reports that information to investors and other stakeholders. In addition to an ambitious carbon reduction footprint and integration of technology like LED lights into televisions and home appliances to save energy use, the company has a nationwide “take back” and recycling program.

The company issues extensive reports via its website to keep investors and consumers up to date on its progress towards its emissions goals and other energy efficiency efforts. More can be found at Samsung’s efforts on its website here.

Samsung manufactures solar panels, as its semiconductor facilities lend themselves well to solar panel production, but is more focused on research and development at this time when it comes to the tools of cleaner energy production.

Having a clear goal and an equally clear strategy about how to achieve sustainability are vital, Steel said. “We have clear commitments about where we’ll be by the year 2020, [and that includes] growing new businesses in green energy, meanwhile expanding efforts on our core appliance manufacturing business.”