With rising energy costs and increased public awareness of environmental issues, it seems that there’s no better time for a business to “go green.” So, whether you’re seeking to perform small alterations or a complete overhaul of your company’s energy policy, here are five great places to start when making your business more eco-friendly .
Why go green? Whether you’re a home-based business or a large multinational, making the transition to more energy efficient operations could cut overheads significantly and increase profits. Dr. Mark Bernstein, Senior Vice President of MWW Group’s Sustainable Solutions, which works with companies to improve their energy efficiency, explained “saving energy is the most cost-effective action one can take to become more sustainable – and many projects make sense just on cost savings alone.” What’s more, the Small Business Association outlines a range of tax credits available for energy-efficient businesses.
Perform an energy audit Just like performance evaluations are critical to improving and refining your business operations, evaluating your company’s energy efficiency is imperative to establishing a greener energy policy for your business. Many local utilities offer businesses free on-site consultations to help devise the best strategies for reducing energy consumption. Dr. Bernstein explained: “An audit would look at a buildings lighting – evaluate how much electricity is used; what technologies are currently there; and also whether there is adequate lighting. Then using that information one would assess how much energy you could save by deploying more efficient lighting (like replacing existing lighting with LEDs) and whether there are opportunities to increase daylighting (like skylights).”
Encourage electronic communication As a result of email and word processing, paper is becoming obsolete in the workplace. However, many offices remain heavily reliant on paper for everyday communications and operations. By encouraging a greater reliance on electronic communication, you can cut down on paper costs while reducing your company’s carbon footprint. It can even help to reduce fuel and travel costs, by keeping communications and transactions online rather than in person.
Water conservation Water conservation is among the core elements of an energy-efficient business policy, according to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. The best way to reduce water consumption is to install and monitor a meter to keep track of your business’ regular water usage. Educate your employees on proper water conservation measures such as turning off faucets while washing hands and dishes. If you use a water-based cooling system, you might think about reusing the same water multiple times, or even collecting rainwater or irrigation runoff for reuse.
Recycled materials When making the transition to greener operations, it’s critical to avail of recycled materials whenever possible. If you are a manufacturer, try to source environmentally-friendly materials, which can often be cheaper than regular raw materials. Similarly, you might consider a policy of only buying recycled and environmentally products. Look for “post-consumer waste” products and non-toxic materials to replace those you regularly consume.
Rethink transportation Almost all forms of transportation consume copious amounts of fuel, which damages the environment. By reassessing your transportation needs you might cut down dramatically on costs and reduce your company’s carbon emissions. Shipping cheaper materials and products from overseas may be more cost-effective, but it can consume large amounts of energy. Try seeking out alternative ways to buy and sell your products to have a smaller impact on the environment. If your business provides company cars, consider purchasing more energy-efficient ones, and using greener fuels whenever possible.