Today we have a guest post that is an excellent follow up to my last post about being “green”. Guest post writer Maire Hunter shares her thoughts on how to make businesses greener. Thanks for the great tips Maire! Remember, all of these ideas can also be applied to your home.
Making business greener
An awareness of how people use energy, and what they do to be eco-conscious in their homes, is also entering the business world as companies of all sizes become more aware of the impact of behaviors on the environment. Things like paper consumption, energy use (including the way a building is heated or cooled), the type of lighting, and outdoor landscaping are all factors that determine how green a business is.
Request an Energy Audit
Inc.com magazine suggests that an easy way to make a business greener is by starting with an energy audit, designed to help the company and its executives see what activities are using the most energy and what energy use can be curtailed or stopped entirely. Once the audit is completed, concrete work can begin to make the company greener and more energy efficient.
Many of the changes that have to be made will require a bit of money in the beginning, but will save money in the long run. When a company decides to do an energy audit, they should keep this in mind to avoid having a surplus of great ideas with no room in the budget to implement them. Ideas like using solar energy panels to provide for some or all of a company’s energy needs will save costs, but require quite a bit of money to begin with. Saving room in the budget will let your company implement ideas while everyone is still excited about the changes and willing to endure some headaches to get it done.
Encourage Alternatives to Commuting
Employees who live close to their workplace can benefit from biking or walking to work instead of driving. Providing bike racks on the premises gives people a place to store their bikes, while also subtly encouraging them to engage in healthier and environmentally friendly behaviors. Offer incentives to employees who carpool to work by awarding them premium parking spots. Encourage employees to take public transportation, and consider subsidizing transit passes for employees.
Allow employees the option of telecommuting instead of working in the office, even if it’s only a few days per week. Telecommuting can reduce stress for parents if their children catch the latest bug while saving them time and money that would otherwise be spent traveling to work. Non-parents will enjoy saving the commute and being in their own home.
Limit Paper Use
Instead of sending memos out to every employee to announce company news or policy changes, send out a bulk email. The same goes for clients. Instead of sending them information through snail mail, send the information by email and provide a link from which they can download specific information that pertains to them. When paper is absolutely necessary, or when the company receives information in paper form, shred the paper as soon as it is no longer necessary. Shredded paper makes excellent filler for packing boxes and is easily recycled.
Switch to CFL Light Bulbs
Since incandescent light bulbs are no longer sold, businesses and individuals have no choice but to switch to alternative lighting methods, such as Compact Fluorescent Lights. Though generally more expensive up-front, CFLs are much more efficient, generating the same amount of light while using less electricity. They use what are known as ballasts to increase the efficiency of the bulb and eliminate the strobing you’ve probably noticed in failing fluorescent lights. Depending on the type of ballast used, the lamp could have up to 9 percent higher efficiency when compared to another CFL.
Purchase Energy Star Appliances
Whenever it’s necessary to replace an old, obsolete or broken appliance, be sure that the replacement meets Energy Star specifications. Although the appliance purchase may cost more, a company may be eligible for rebates on certain types of Energy Star appliances and the energy savings over the life of the appliance can more than make up for the increased expense.
Install Gray and Rainwater Catchment Basins
If the company is very large, there may be a considerable amount of outside space that could be used to improve both the efficiency of the building and change the aesthetics of the area. Instead of planting grass and flowers that consume large amounts of water, consider planting drought tolerant or water saving plants such as succulents. If there is grass around the workplace, save the clippings to use as mulch, since this will cut down on weed growth and help the soil hold moisture longer.
Choose Eco-Friendly Landscaping and Plants
In areas where the weather tends to get especially hot, the use of trees will add an attractive element while also shading areas of the building, potentially reducing utility costs inside the building. Instead of installing an in-ground irrigation system, install soaker hoses that direct water to the plant roots instead of allowing inefficient sprinklers to spray water everywhere.
Avoid the use of chemical fertilizers and insecticides. Instead, surround plants with mulch to suppress weed growth naturally. The use of companion plants is effective for providing nutrients to nearby plants, replacing the need for synthetic fertilizers. Replacing grass with native plants will result in less need for maintenance and water.
Chicago’s Green Rooftop
Chicago’s former Mayor Richard M. Daley took advantage of the flat roof on the city hall building by allowing gardening experts to create a spectacular outdoor garden. The garden used rain barrels to collect rainwater for the plants. Chicago’s dedication to creating a more environmentally friendly city even earned it an article in National Geographic Traveler in Sept. 2010 titled “Chicago: America’s Green City“.
When it comes to going green, there are as many options for businesses as there are for families. By taking the time to weigh all of your options and investing in these solutions, your business can create a reputation for environmental conservation and garner the trust and respect of your community.
Author bio: Maire loves it when she can make something green. She also loves her Scottish Terrier, Pete, and baking delicious treats.