It Is Easy Being Green

Many people are trying to find innovative and creative ways to cut costs these days. One less obvious yet viable solution is to go green with your business. Going green is not a bad bandwagon to hitch a ride on, and greening up your workplace can actually help you make more money, through cost savings, increased sales, or both. Here are a few ways to improve the environment, of your business and for us all:

» Combine processes: Analyze how combining two or more operations may save time, money and energy.
» Maintain equipment at maximum efficiency: Regularly clean equipment fans and filters and stick to a maintenance schedule. Well-maintained equipment delivers increased efficiency and prolonged life.
» Use waste: Can any waste be used in any way as a resource?
» Make something green: Take an everyday item and create a green version of it. New niches pop up all the time.
» Green the air: Clean indoor air by using live plants. Install an air filtration system to protect employees and customers.
» Clean green: Purchase eco-friendly alternatives for cleaning and maintaining the office and manufacturing sites; a greener alternative exists for just about any related need.
» Implement paperless banking and billing: Choose electronic bank statements, invoices and billing for suppliers and utilities. Use the computer to send and receive faxes instead of producing printed copies.
» Practice green marketing: Add digital messaging to the mix, using social media, a blog and banner advertising. The Internet provides a real-time network for communicating with business stakeholders.
» Join green business groups: Use green business networks to learn from others or to form partnerships or collaborate. In an effective network, any associated cost will likely pay for itself through increased knowledge, customers and collaboration.

Initially, however, some funds may be necessary to jumpstart taking your business to a greener level, as it can be expensive and difficult to convert to an all-green operation. Increased awareness and the movement toward green business practices have led to the availability of incentives that can help, in the form of grants, loans or rebates, specifically tailored to going green.

Your local utility is the perfect first step. A quick check on their website can yield a number of results geared to help local businesses become more energy efficient. Another great place to look is the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency, www.dsireus.org, which has hundreds of listings
for green grants, rebates and loans.

Also check Business.gov, www.business.gov/guides/environment, a Web site managed as a partnership by 22 federal agencies, for “green” business incentives. But as always, beware of grants that ask for money upfront and those that simply seem too good to be true.

You will also want to contact your local government-sponsored Small Business Development Center, a great resource for information to help your small business go green. Late last year, the Small Business Administration funneled $500,000 through business development centers in Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada and New York to help fund energy efficiency projects. Your local center might have similar options available.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that there are $11.4 million in grants available for investments in renewable energy and energy-efficiency improvements for agricultural and small businesses. Loan guarantees are also available.

Some states have green business coordinators who help businesses in their states adopt greener practices and become certified. But even without a formal auditing or certification process in your area, as a business owner, you can easily cast a critical eye yourself. Look at your energy use, water use and waste volume. Few business owners realize that lighting can be as much as a third of their energy use, so it pays to go as energy-efficient as possible.

In addition, and it may seem obvious, but make sure you’re business is in compliance with all existing environmental laws. For instance, most local governments have regulations that prevent runoff into local water supplies, which is especially useful to know if you’re washing your fleet trucks.

Not sure where to begin? Start in the front office. Most of us have already taken steps to be less wasteful and more energy efficient in our homes so bring those best practices into your office.

Begin ordering products that come in corn-based, eco-friendly containers that compost easily and replace old, energy inefficient lighting and take advantage of an option to buy wind-based power from your local utility, if it’s available.

Even the pens you use can get an eco-friendly makeover—there are ones available made from cardboard and wood. Employees’ uniforms can be greener, too, and not just in color. Clothing made from bamboo fiber, which is an easily renewable resource. Hanes, for instance, offers an alternative website, www.hanesgreen.com, for those wishing to implement greener practices in all facets of their life.

And then, of course, there’s the alternative fuel option, which relates heavily to your industry. Biofuel and compressed natural gas (CNG) are two of several options that are growing in popularity. And the more people who convert, the more readily it will become available. The time is now to make going green the requirement and the norm and not just a trendy fad relegated to hippies and the wealthy. Start small or pursue green business grants. Going green will save you money, and our environment, for years to come.

Story by Jade Acadia

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!