Green Business – in a Nutshell

July 16, 2008 at 3:17 pm Leave a comment

So your competitor just installed solar panels on the roof of his shop, traded in his Ford Expedition for a Toyota Prius, and bought an electric lawnmower to trim the grass out front. You may be thinking that he’s going crazy, but in reality he’s going green and likely getting compensated for his efforts.

OK, so you’ve heard the term ‘Green’ but you’re not sure what it’s all about. Don’t worry. It’s not a weird cult where everyone dresses in neon green and wears tin foil on their heads (unless, of course, you’re into that kind of thing). In a nutshell it simply means that you are striving to reduce your impact on the environment and is, for the most part, painless. In fact the only painful part of going green is when you kick yourself for not doing it sooner.

Conserve Water & Energy

Conservation is the first and likely the most important step to start thinking green. In many ways it is simply working to change bad habits into good ones. Turning off the lights when you leave a room or making sure the door closes behind you when you leave the building are a perfect examples. And be a nag – help to break your employees’ bad habits as well.

Consider swapping incandescent lights for LED. Many of you may be already familiar with LEDs as they have become popular for use in flashlights due to the long battery and bulb life. Newer LED lights manufactured for home and business use mimic the spectrum of natural light rather than the eye-straining, headache-inducing florescent lights to which we’ve all become accustomed. While florescent lights are indeed energy efficient they do not have an environmentally friendly manufacturing or disposal process.

You may not realize it but your business is probably hemorrhaging energy. Have a leaky faucet or a toilet that won’t stop running? Fix it or call a plumber who can do it for you. Door and window seals are notorious for allowing air to slowly seep through causing your heating and cooling unit to work harder. Your power company likely offers free assessments. My local company will even make suggestions as to which changes provide the quickest return on your investment and help process the forms to take advantage of energy conservation tax incentives.

If you have green space around your place of business that needs watering, you might want to consider contacting your local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) office to perform a free assessment of your automatic watering system. Or better yet, select flowers, shrubs, and ornamental grasses that are native to your area and therefore should require less additional watering to maintain.

Reduce & Recycle Waste

Do you really need to print out fifteen copies of the meeting agenda? Why not e-mail the agenda to everyone ahead of time instead and let them decide if they need to print out a copy or write it on the whiteboard where everyone can see it.

What about the cardboard boxes from today’s UPS shipment? Depending on how much cardboard and paper waste your business produces waste management companies will provide you with a dumpster set aside for that purpose. If your trash collector does not offer such a service, check with local charities. There are organizations that will collect your cardboard and paper waste which then is sold to a recycling company – money which you may be able claim as a charitable donation.

Everyone has to eat sometime. So what do you do with the leftover plastic containers, bottles, and aluminum cans? Set up recycling receptacles for plastic, aluminum, and glass for your employees. At one company I worked we collected our aluminum cans, sold them to a recycling company, and used to proceeds for parties and luncheons.

Lower Emissions

If your business requires that you drive to your customers, have you considered purchasing a low emissions vehicle (LEV) to reduce your carbon emissions? The Federal Government, along with many states and municipalities, offers a number of tax incentives for making the change.

Hybrids are the most common LEV on the market today. A hybrid is an electric motor working in tandem with a gasoline engine to increase the fuel mileage. Most major automobile manufacturers offer hybrid vehicles in a wide range of styles and sizes. Fedex has been using hybrids in their fleet in most major cities around the world since 2000.

If your have diesel powered vehicles in your fleet you could easily make the switch to biodiesel, a renewable fuel made from vegetable oils such as corn or soy. It is even possible to run a diesel vehicle to run on waste vegetable oil (WVO) from restaurant fryers.

If you can’t afford a to make the switch, try changing your driving habits to improve your mileage. There is a growing movement known as Hypermiling that strives to squeeze more miles out of a tank of gas by employing a series of ‘skillful’ changes in driving styles. The current (unofficial) record holder is 124 MPG using a Honda Insight.

Advertise and Advocate

First off, if you are doing all the things necessary to reduce your business’ impact on the environment, don’t keep it a secret. Make it well known that you care about the environment and you may be surprised at the amount of recognition your business may get as a result. If your area doesn’t have a recycling program, spearhead an initiative to get one and reap the rewards of the media attention your business will receive. Create an advertising campaign boasting about your conservation incentives. Sponsor a highway clean up. Most importantly: be creative.

Become an advocate for energy conservation and challenge those with whom you do business to do likewise. Offer incentives for customers who bring their own bag when shopping at your store. Purchase public transportation passes for your employees. Install showers so employees who ride bikes or walk to work can freshen up before the work day begins.

In short: don’t hide the fact that you are striving to make your business green. Stand up on a soapbox and shout it out to anyone who will listen. You may be pleasantly surprised when all your efforts to go green turn into greenbacks.

By briansrapier

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Entry filed under: Energy, Information Technology, Tips. Tags: , , , .

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