It’s safe to say that there has never been a bigger emphasis on ‘going green’ as there is right now; indeed, the media is filled with ideas for greener living. There are anxious articles regarding the impact that many industries have upon the environment and statistics that seem to point us towards the apocalypse, but it’s not all doom and gloom; you see with a little innovation, and the determination to make a change, thousands of businesses around the world are already going green. Isn’t that our social duty and environmental responsibility as industry leaders, after all?
The benefits of going green
There are numerous benefits to going green, including the reduction of a company’s carbon footprint, a decrease in bills and stationery costs, and tax advantages and incentives; numerous studies have estimated that switching to lower energy light bulbs can save 70% on energy bills alone, which is a big deal for companies of any size. More than that, though, going green is your business’s chance to embrace innovation, and to take care of the landscape that has nurtured us throughout our existence; going green isn’t a trend, but a sustainable means for protecting our planet. As if that wasn’t enough, pledging to operate in a more environmentally friendly manner can do so much more for your business.
By building greener policies into your mission statement you may see an increase in the clients and customers wanting to work with you, find that you’re attracting talent from a far greater pool, and even set the standard for your industry and those around you. Going green is a great way to improve working standards for your team and to boost morale and productivity. Are you ready to find out more?
Green industries: what, where, and why?
You’ve heard some of the numerous reasons why businesses, yours included, should be going green, but have you been inspired by any recent examples? You see, it’s all very well to make that green pledge, but without the right plans in place that’s all you’ll ever achieve; a pledge to be better, to go further, to do more. What the environment, and your company, could really benefit from right now is action, and we have a few ideas regarding where you could be starting, least of all greener commute policies and cycle to work schemes…
The manufacturing industry and innovation go hand in hand, and it’s never been easier for factories, workshops, and industrial sites to improve their standards; new equipment that’s easier to use and markedly more environmentally friendly is being introduced at a great rate. You see, manufacturing processes waste an awful lot of heat, energy, and power, but by making greener choices companies can actually increase their productivity, improve their performance, and save the planet – all in one go. Have you explored the very latest technology available to you?
The increasing popularity of social media, and the stratospheric rise of digital technology have meant that journalism is fast becoming an industry that has almost fallen into the green by accident. Our reliance upon newspapers for our current affairs and gossip is dwindling, heavily reducing the paper trail once created by those keen to keep us informed. The media is one area that positively thrives online; journalist Alison O’Riordan is one of many that turns to social media and Twitter feeds in order to keep their followers up to date. Alison’s use of such a platform automatically turns consumers away from print media, and allows more and more of the journalist’s world to exist online. While it pays to remember that computers and technology aren’t without a carbon footprint of their own, the digital world is certainly one keeping the environment in mind.
Building and construction
Back in 2012, it was estimated that some 41% of construction companies were operating within the guidelines of greener policies, and that number has no doubt risen in the last four years. Sustainable building is so much more than a ‘fad’; it’s an industry standard these days, and the construction industry has seen so much innovation in recent years – all of it geared towards cleaner living. The introduction of better insulation, improved glazing, updated interiors, and chemicals with reduced emissions, as well as greener building practices are all ensuring that this is industry is one of the most transparent and affordably green.
Office buildings dominate the landscapes of the biggest cities and the smallest towns, and it’s towards those businesses we often look when chatter turns to greener energy. Such companies tend to use all manner of electrical appliances on an almost daily basis, as well as forging quite an impressive paper trail as they go. It’s here that the smallest, and yet most impactful changes can be made. Switching to a paperless environment, in which documents and files are stored electronically on a cloud-based system, is just one way that the general business industry can reduce its carbon footprint. Enabling employees to work from home every now and again, introducing recycling, and endeavouring to turn lights and appliance off when they’re not in use are also incredibly simple ways to make that change.
It’s safe to say that the world is going green, although some industries are certainly rushing improvements through faster than others. A recent study estimated that some 81% of the world’s chief executives had pledged to incorporate sustainability into their business plans, but we should be seeing increasing activity, rather than promises, as time marches on. Have you considered how your business could be doing more to reduce its carbon footprint and take a step into the future? Now’s the time…
These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money
The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.
Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.
Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.
Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale
The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.
Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.
Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI
It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.
Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.
Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.
Implementing green changes without a plan
Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.
Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:
- How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
- How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
- How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
- How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?
The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.
Not considering the benefits of green printing
Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.
Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.
According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:
- They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
- They consume less energy than traditional printers.
- They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.
You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.
Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers
Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.
The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.
You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.
Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.
2017 Was the Most Expensive Year Ever for U.S. Natural Disaster Damage
Devastating natural disasters dominated last year’s headlines and made many wonder how the affected areas could ever recover. According to data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the storms and other weather events that caused the destruction were extremely costly.
Specifically, the natural disasters recorded last year caused so much damage that the associated losses made 2017 the most expensive year on record in the 38-year history of keeping such data. The following are several reasons that 2017 made headlines for this notorious distinction.
Over a Dozen Events With Losses Totalling More Than $1 Billion Each
The NOAA reports that in total, the recorded losses equaled $306 billion, which is $90 billion more than the amount associated with 2005, the previous record holder. One of the primary reasons the dollar amount climbed so high last year is that 16 individual events cost more than $1 billion each.
Global Warming Contributed to Hurricane Harvey
Hurricane Harvey, one of two Category-4 hurricanes that made landfall in 2017, was a particularly expensive natural disaster. Nearly 800,000 people needed assistance after the storm. Hurricane Harvey alone cost $125 billion, with some estimates even higher than that. So far, the only hurricane more expensive than Harvey was Katrina.
Before Hurricane Harvey hit, scientists speculated climate change could make it worse. They discussed how rising ocean temperatures make hurricanes more intense, and warmer atmospheres have higher amounts of water vapor, causing larger rainfall totals.
Since then, a new study published in “Environmental Research Letters” confirmed climate change was indeed a factor that gave Hurricane Harvey more power. It found environmental conditions associated with global warming made the storm more severe and increase the likelihood of similar events.
That same study also compared today’s storms with ones from 1900. It found that compared to those earlier weather phenomena, Hurricane Harvey’s rainfall was 15 percent more intense and three times as likely to happen now versus in 1900.
Warming oceans are one of the contributing factors. Specifically, the ocean’s surface temperature associated with the region where Hurricane Harvey quickly transformed from a tropical storm into a Category 4 hurricane has become about 1 degree Fahrenheit warmer over the past few decades.
Michael Mann, a climatologist from Penn State University, believes that due to a relationship known as the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, there was about 3-5 percent more moisture in the air, which caused more rain. To complicate matters even more, global warming made sea levels rise by more than 6 inches in the Houston area over the past few decades. Mann also believes global warming caused the stationery summer weather patterns that made Hurricane Harvey stop moving and saturate the area with rain. Mann clarifies although global warming didn’t cause Hurricane Harvey as a whole, it exacerbated several factors of the storm.
Also, statistics collected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 1901-2015 found the precipitation levels in the contiguous 48 states had gone up by 0.17 inches per decade. The EPA notes the increase is expected because rainfall totals tend to go up as the Earth’s surface temperatures rise and additional evaporation occurs.
The EPA’s measurements about surface temperature indicate for the same timespan mentioned above for precipitation, the temperatures have gotten 0.14 Fahrenheit hotter per decade. Also, although the global surface temperature went up by 0.15 Fahrenheit during the same period, the temperature rise has been faster in the United States compared to the rest of the world since the 1970s.
Severe Storms Cause a Loss of Productivity
Many people don’t immediately think of one important factor when discussing the aftermath of natural disasters: the adverse impact on productivity. Businesses and members of the workforce in Houston, Miami and other cities hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma suffered losses that may total between $150-200 billion when both damage and sacrificed productivity are accounted for, according to estimates from Moody’s Analytics.
Some workers who decide to leave their homes before storms arrive delay returning after the immediate danger has passed. As a result of their absences, a labor-force shortage may occur. News sources posted stories highlighting that the Houston area might not have enough construction workers to handle necessary rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Harvey.
It’s not hard to imagine the impact heavy storms could have on business operations. However, companies that offer goods to help people prepare for hurricanes and similar disasters often find the market wants what they provide. While watching the paths of current storms, people tend to recall storms that took place years ago and see them as reminders to get prepared for what could happen.
Longer and More Disastrous Wildfires Require More Resources to Fight
The wildfires that ripped through millions of acres in the western region of the United States this year also made substantial contributions to the 2017 disaster-related expenses. The U.S. Forest Service, which is within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reported 2017 as its costliest year ever and saw total expenditures exceeding $2 billion.
The agency anticipates the costs will grow, especially when they take past data into account. In 1995, the U.S. Forest Service spent 16 percent of its annual budget for wildfire-fighting costs, but in 2015, the amount ballooned to 52 percent. The sheer number of wildfires last year didn’t help matters either. Between January 1 and November 24 last year, 54,858 fires broke out.
2017: Among the Three Hottest Years Recorded
People cause the majority of wildfires, but climate change acts as another notable contributor. In addition to affecting hurricane intensity, rising temperatures help fires spread and make them harder to extinguish.
Data collected by the National Interagency Fire Center and published by the EPA highlighted a correlation between the largest wildfires and the warmest years on record. The extent of damage caused by wildfires has gotten worse since the 1980s, but became particularly severe starting in 2000 during a period characterized by some of the warmest years the U.S. ever recorded.
Things haven’t changed for the better, either. In mid-December of 2017, the World Meteorological Organization released a statement announcing the year would likely end as one of the three warmest years ever recorded. A notable finding since the group looks at global land and ocean temperature, not just statistics associated with the United States.
Not all the most financially impactful weather events in 2017 were hurricanes and wildfires. Some of the other issues that cost over $1 billion included a hailstorm in Colorado, tornados in several regions of the U.S. and substantial flooding throughout Missouri and Arkansas.
Although numerous factors gave these natural disasters momentum, scientists know climate change was a defining force — a reality that should worry just about everyone.
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