Greening Your Business
All the following tips have proven to reduce operating costs. Every business association now has green standards.
The less environmentally damaging fuel sources are Solar-, wind- and hydro-electric, and many businesses are installing new greener tools. Tap geothermal heat. Manufacturers even burn oat hulls as fuel. Ethanol by distilling waste beer.
But most financial and ecological energy benefits come from reduced fuel use. Small businesses can easily cut fuel bills 20% by turning off lights, computer and other equipment when not used, while turning thermostats down and switching off heating on holidays, weekends, and overnight.
When replacing computers, motors and appliances that cant be repaired, new equipment should be Energy Star rated. Computers are rated by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs provide quick return on investment. Worth the money: a company wide Energy Audit.
Your office building sets the stage for profit or loss. Reflective roof coatings cool without a/c. Superwindows and superinsulation can reduce heating/cooling expenses 80%. A large fuel-cell power unit will let you sell power to the grid. Likewise, "regenerative drive" elevators send electricity to the grid. Locate in a green incubator with other businesses.
Slice paper use by relying on email for memos and document store. Buy printers that print on both sides GreenerPrinter.com, and print only pages needed. Collect reusable paper beside printers and fax machines. http://www.paperrecycles.org
Stock 100% chlorine-free post-consumer recycled. Better still, use tree-free paper made of kenaf or hemp. Use a union printshop with recycled paper and soy ink.
Nix paper towels-- wipe washed hands on pants or skirt. Body heat dries clothes fast.
Junk Mail can cost thousand of dollars yearly to sort and dispose. Unsubscribe former employees via EcoLogical Mail Coalition. When registering at conferences give no address. When an address is required give 555 Five St.
Choose suppliers who reuse their packaging. Redesigned packages can reduce paperboard use.
Dont use wood from endangered forest species: Certified Forest Products Council www.certifiedwood.org
Use less wood: structural insulation panels cut wood demand 40%. Use alternatives to wood like bamboo and strawboard that are formaldehyde free. Damaged boards can be chipped into mulch rather than dumped.
Reward staff who commute by train, bus or bike: provide showers, bike sheds, SEPTA passes. Form carpools and reward carpoolers. Buy hybrid vehicles and give rebates to employees who buy hybrids. When travel is essential rely on the Green Hotel Assn http://www.greenhotels.com Locate satellite offices on transit routes. Close the office and telecommute to save real-estate costs and increase productivity.
Who hauls your freight? New diesel locomotives cut fuel 5% and emissions 40%. There are now diesel-hybrid 18-wheelers.
Fix faucet and toilet leaks. Install faucet aerators, low-flow toilets and shower heads with flow restrictors, water-saving laundry. Collect rainwater on roof, send it to basement tank, filter it, then pipe it up for laundry and toilet. Install waterless urinals and compost toilets. Reuse greywater. Recirculate water in cooling towers. Install time-of-use water meters.
Instead of hosing, sweep. Reduce fleet washing. Let hotel customers request clean towels and linens. Use biodegradable detergents. Never pour oil or grease down the drain. Remove fat, oil and grease from pots and pans before washing.
Manage stormwater by planting layers of vegetation along the street , low-water use plants, larger trees, green roofs and green walls, pervious paving and rubber sidewalks. Use drip irrigation with moisture sensors to reduce excess watering.
Eliminate disposable dishes, napkins, cups and silverware. Plastic containers made of corn or sugar cane biodegrade in months, while plastic ones remain thousands of years. Build a green kitchen.
Donate surplus food legally. Perishables past the "sell by" (or "best if used by") date are okay, but not foods past "use by" date (unless frozen). Other foods not donated: home prepared (except baked goods), vacuum-packed or pickled; soiled, dented, opened or rusty containers; unpasteurized milk; "off" odor; temperature abused.
Repair or donate office furniture and other equipment rather than recycle. Repair buildings (adaptive reuse) rather than demolish or build.
Use recycled polyester and rubber (PVC-free recycled rubber floors), organic cotton, from shortest distance. Buy equipment that can be returned to manufacturers and whose carbon impact is declared. Buy "Cradle-to-cradle" goods that can be disassembled for recycling. Cut bottle size by condensing liquid. Donate off-cut carpeting to playgroups.
Green building design, construction, rehab, operation and maintenance reduce fuel and maintenance costs, while strengthening property value.
Deconstruct buildings rather than trash them: Construction and demolition (C&D) waste is 40% of municipal waste. Require deconstruction in bid package.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) sets building standards for concrete, masonry, wood, plastics, thermal and moisture protection, carpets, doors, windows, doors and windows, equipment, furnishings, conveyors, mechanical, electrical.
There are now environmental standards for every profession: Green Dentistry uses non toxic products, reducing waste of water, materials and fuel. Green chemistry reduces or eliminates the use of toxins, minimizing danger and maximizing efficiency, prevents waste, uses renewable feedstock and catalysts, avoids derivatives, uses safer solvents or water.
Everything can be recycled to create green collar jobs and retain wealth: cement foundations into aggregate for new foundations, old wallboard into new, computers and electronics, fluorescent lamps and ballasts, food waste, cell phone batteries. Materials exchanges reduce industrial feedstock prices.
Research supplier records on green issues. Evaluate their raw materials sources, labor records and investments. Corporate Social Responsibility Green Data Center http://www.csrware.com Form an environmental committee or hire a corporate ecologist to keep on top of these distinctions, opportunities and trends.
Begin with Fair Trade coffee, buy locally-made greener products and hire locals.
Green Your Business: Australia