Every year, many companies waste millions of dollars on unnecessary energy, water and paper expenditures. While many families are exploring ways to go green and help the environment through energy reduction and recycling, a fair number of companies across the World have lagged behind. If your business is looking at ways to go green, here are a few ideas that may help:
Start with an Energy and Consumption Audit: An energy and consumption audit often gives businesses insight into many of their less than green habits. Have an energy professional review your building’s interior and exterior to determine if leaks or cracks are resulting in your business wasting valuable energy resources. It is also a good idea to carefully review electricity and water bills to find out if your company’s energy expenditures are streamlined or wasteful.
Develop a Recycling Program: Rather than have employees discard plastic bottles, cups and office paper, start a company-wide recycling program that collects glass, plastic, paper and aluminum. Many city and county waste collection departments will include this service for free. If you live in a more rural area, create your own recycling bins and then set up a schedule where staff can deliver items to the local recycling plant on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Look into creating a partnership with another company to see if you can combine your recycling efforts or see if there’s a company that can use any of your company’s refuse as their raw materials.
Consider Green Lighting: Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) produce diffuse lighting that works well for most offices but only use about 25% of the energy of a traditional incandescent bulb. CFLs also produce less heat than incandescent bulbs and have longer “life spans.”
Start Going Paperless: One of the biggest expenses most companies incur involves purchasing and then throwing away paper. Why create hundreds of unnecessary photocopies or print memos or flyers that will only land in the trash? A better option is to utilize your company’s e-mail, website and social networking sites like Facebook to get your message out.
Encourage Telecommuting: Going green in the workplace should include helping your community’s environment, too. If your business is primarily made up of office staff, offer the option of telecommuting. Allowing staff to periodically work from home has the added benefit of helping your business reduce electricity and water costs, too.
Turn off Computers: Your staff may not know it, but leaving their computers, monitors and printers on all night can substantially increase your energy costs. Implement a policy of shutting off all unneeded electrical appliances before leaving the building.
Reduce Your Water Consumption: When doing your company’s energy audit, make sure not to overlook the bathroom areas. Many businesses don’t realize that low-flow toilets only use about 1.6 gallons of water per flush compared to more than 3 gallons used each time a traditional toilet is flushed. Consider installing economical low-flow toilets and showers in your office and make sure that faucets aren’t leaking valuable water. If your company has extensive landscaping, consider watering in the evening or early morning and consult with a professional landscaper about xeriscaping (the utilization of plants and trees that reduce water consumption).
Install Motion Detector Lights and Timers: If the lights in your building are always left on, or if employees regularly forget to turn up the thermostat at the end of the day, try using motion detectors and timers. Motion detector lighting will turn the lights on in a room in use and then turn them off after everyone is gone. Timers can be set to turn on and shut off the air conditioning to help your company save valuable energy dollars.
Do a review of your company’s energy expenditures and recycling habits. Follow up by educating staff and implementing policies to reduce waste and cut costs. By taking a proactive approach your business will be showing its greener, more eco-friendly side in no time.
Connie Prescott is a conservation writer who works with NRDC and other organizations to protect our health and environment. Connie feels one of the more important issues to address is that of water sustainability, in order to slow the shortages expected to hit high-risk levels in the coming mid-century.