Baby Steps for Going Green

Going green as a small business doesn’t mean investing in high-tech solar panels right off the bat. There are proactive steps all small business owners can take today to be more environmentally-friendly without breaking the bank.

No. 1: Seal the envelope. Randal Palach, president and CEO of NextEnergy, said small business owners should take a look at their windows to ensure they are fully sealed. He also suggested investigating insulation to see if it is effectively thick. “Make sure you have proper insulation so you don’t have heat loss,” Palach said. “Anything you can do to tighten the envelope of the building.”

No. 2: Consider what fuels your building. If a small business is running on oil or electricity, switching to geothermal may be a smart move, according to Palach. “Geothermal can give you a quick payback if you are using those other fuels.”

No. 3: Go paperless.  You don’t need to have your documents on paper in order to read them; offices waste massive amounts of paper from unnecessarily printing documents. Jennifer Kaplan, author of “Greening Your Small Business,” admits going paperless is a huge step for businesses, but it’s extremely effective.  “People are somewhat scared of going paperless,” Kaplan said. “They think electronic signatures are not as valid as hard copies, but they are legally binding.” This can also reduce the amount of office space your business needs, because without paper, less storage is needed.

No. 4: Scrap your fax machine. Fax machines are a huge money and energy waste, according to Kaplan. Between printer cartridges, toner, paper and the required extra phone line, a fax machine is more trouble than convenience. “You can do digital faxing in the cloud,” she said. “It gets archived and delivered to you by PDF.”

No. 5: Take control. To save money on heating and air conditioning, owners should invest in proper controls throughout your space. This will save you money and reduce your carbon footprint, Palach said.

No. 6: Go where your interests lie. It can be daunting for a small business to attempt going green all at once, Kaplan said. Instead, take smaller proactive steps that are in the vein of your own interests and causes. “Some want to do recycling, while others want to buy locally,” she said. “Start small and build on your own successes.”