“In the future, every industry should be an environmental industry. In a world where energy and carbon emissions are constrained, every business must take resource productivity seriously,” says David Miliband, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Most entrepreneurs are not ignorant of the state of the environment. In fact, I would wager that there is a fair percentage of them who strive to do what they can to make their own homes as eco-friendly as possible. However, there is often a disparity between home and work and, somewhere along the way, those people who are so devoted to recycling at home overlook it while in the workplace. This juxtaposition is puzzling for many who are activists for environmental causes and who advocate for change on a universal scale.
In an age of environmental consciousness, it is impossible for the business community to ignore the fundamental challenges to traditional business management as they face a growing sector of consumers who desire to work with environmentally friendly proprietorships. This attitude and want on behalf of the consumer is the drive many need to slide into their eco-warrior shoes when they step foot into the office Monday morning.
As with any business, there is a bottom line. With strides in modern technology and government incentives to be better environmentalists, becoming environmentally conscious is actually fairly easy and, most importantly for every accountant in your office, a way for businesses to save money.
Give your employees reusable cups for the water cooler
According to a recent Forbes article, Starbucks has already gotten in on this idea and it’s saving them millions of dollars annually. Granted, the average business doesn’t use nearly as many cups as this beverage giant, but it’s still very applicable to even the smallest business. By providing a reusable cup, you are not only encouraging your employees to reduce the costs of waste disposal, but you are encouraging them to give you and your brand free advertising every time they walk outside.
Environmentally, you’re saving the planet with a reduction in paper waste and in turn enabling yourself to advertise as an eco-friendly business. Even if it’s just with a button on the bottom of your website, the stamp certifies you in the eyes of environmentally conscious consumers.
Replace your light bulbs and create an energy policy
Energy costs tend to be a large part of an office budget. According to the Department of Energy, the average savings of replacing five light bulbs with energy-certified ones is $75. Looking overhead, I’m able to count 50 lights in this room, and if every bulb was replaced with an Energy Star bulb, the office would save the business approximately $750 a year. Multiplied by the number of rooms the entire building has, the amount can be quite significant.
In addition to replacing the bulbs in and around the office, creating an energy policy will encourage your employees to be aware of the environmental and monetary impact their choices are making.Go a little high tech and add occupancy sensors to your rooms so the lights turn off when no one is in them or, if you have to simplify, send a company email stating that all lights must be turned off when rooms or spaces are not in use.
Beware the vampire appliances
Further, an effective energy policy can ensure that all vampire appliances are unplugged before everyone leaves for the night. The term encompasses all machinery which still draws power when it’s not on. Computers, laptops, coffee makers, monitors, chargers—they all draw energy even when not in use. There are many lists of vampire appliances on the Web, so if you have a question about equipment you’re using, there are many to sources to choose from. By simply unplugging these appliances at the end of the day, you’ll be saving your company money and cutting down on the unnecessary environmental impact wasted energy causes.
E-book and e-file your official documentation
The amount of paper one small business uses is staggering. Reduce.org claims that a single office worker uses an average of 10,000 sheets of copy paper per year. That’s a lot of green.
One way to eliminate some of that cost is to have official documentation stored in e-books. The employee handbook and company policy, for example, don’t have to be stacked to the ceiling to be read. Keeping those documents in online storage will cut unnecessary costs.
Have a contract that needs signing?
Think about trying an e-signing service like DocuSign. By creating a profile on a site that enables contract signing over the Internet, you’ll be able to bring up any contract signed with a just a few clicks rather than sorting through storage.
Give consumers paperless bills and memos whenever possible
Having consumers sign up for a paperless payment system is fairly simple, and you can further suggest automatic drafts so that they don’t have to worry about remembering payments. Think your clientele will be reluctant to sign up? You can try giving them an initial discount of 5 percent in order to convince them of the ease and efficiency of the service. This will help engender customer loyalty and promote your business as a green company.
This one may seem obvious, but it may have more of a monetary value than you think. Most recycling centers will pay people for their recyclables. All you have to do is provide the bins to be sorted and when you need to take the trash out, drop the recyclables off for some immediate cost savings.
Think outside the box when it comes to recyclables
When replacing office items, think old for furniture and new for appliances. Why old furniture? There is an energy cost associated with producing new furniture and, if it’s wood, an immediate natural cost as well. By purchasing older office furniture, you will be able to save on the cost of new equipment while cutting costs of your carbon footprint. Many offices sell their office supplies during a renovation and/or upgrade, enabling you to get them for a steal.
Think of purchasing a gently used energy star appliance or a pre-owned refrigerator for the breakroom. Since most brand new appliances are already energy star rated, it wouldn’t be hard to find some recyclable appliances that will also be energy star as well. By upgrading these items, you’ll be saving electricity and saving yourself money, something all entrepreneurs want to hear.
Think of alternative energy sources
Solar panels are quickly becoming a popular commodity among consumers and businesses alike. There is something reassuring about a building that is proudly displayed for all the world to see. In addition to drastically reducing costs after the initial investment, the government in many states offer tax credits to businesses and individuals who opt for solar installation.
Renting a space?
Ask for an energy audit from your landlord. Many states will perform free energy audits and pay for some (or all) of the repairs if deficiencies are found. A quick Google search of free energy audits should affirm if there are any applications or program restrictions in your area.
Renovating a space?
If you are considering an old building or warehouse for your healing center or gym, cutting down on renovation costs and environmental friendliness may seem to be in opposition. However, that is not the case.
Consider using ductless energy efficient air conditioning units instead of traditional ones. They work very similarly to the duct units and will keep you cool without breaking the bank or the perfectly good building.
Also, instead of replacing all the walls with drywall, use spray-in insulation. It’s far more efficient than traditional insulation and will save you time and resources by saving the walls and sealing all the cracks.
Try Green Web Hosting
I know this seems minor, however, it’s something to boast about on your website. Being powered by a green web host is no more costly, and in some instances less costly than their non-green competitors. One green web host is GreenGeeks and advertises prices on par with other hosting services you can find on the web. It isn’t just yourself who is going to be patting you on the back either. Numerous articles claim that companies whose reputations are seen as more environmentally conscious are also seen as more trustworthy and more honest because of it. While the statistical data isn’t yet available on that point, the idea seems in line with my experiences as both a consumer and a businessperson.
Overall, going green is a great way for a company to save itself some much-needed cash while the economy slowly makes its recovery. Small changes to the daily work environment enable business people to make a huge impact on the world around them and a large impact on the status of their bottom line. In short, it’s the best of both worlds.