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10 Solutions for More Sustainable Business Practices

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CC San Francisco Office By Creative Commons HQ Via Flickr

Businesses are among the worst polluters on the planet. The industrial sector accounts for nearly 50 percent of all the air pollution in the world, and that doesn’t count the damage done to the ecosystem through polluted streams and landfills.

Non-sustainable companies also struggle with inefficiency in their businesses because they use excess energy and resources, which drives up operating costs. Another survey showed that 55 percent of consumers are willing to pay more when they know the goods were produced with sustainable practices, and 71 percent of Americans think about the environment when they shop.

As these numbers suggest, going green makes excellent business sense nowadays. Most firms can find at least a few ways to make their practices more sustainable. Here are some ideas.

1. Go Paperless

Almost all your business processes may be handled online, from email billing to online sales. So go ahead and recycle your filing cabinets because you can substantially improve the efficiency and eco-friendliness of your business without killing trees.

2. Rely on Software

The solution for going paperless is to rely on software. For example, use QuickBooks for all your accounting functions, which is efficient and requires no paper statements. If there are ever any errors or problems with the software, online support can easily solve them.

3. Do Business with Sustainable Vendors

Making changes within your business isn’t enough. Your vendors should apply greener practices as well. You’ll be associated with your vendors, and going green without regard to their environmental impact could all but erase your efforts to go green and garner respect for doing so.

4. Implement a Reuse-and-Recycle System

Teach employees that the blue trash can is for recycling and other colors are for garbage. Explain how to recycle and reuse items whenever possible so your employees and firm can avoid filling landfills with more junk.

5. Use Biodegradable Cleaners

Toxins are still too often released into the air through the use of common cleaning supplies, which contributes to air pollution. Reduce your pollutants indoors by buying green cleaners.

6. Change Your Light Bulbs

CFL and LED bulbs are much more efficient, last longer, and don’t waste energy the way incandescent bulbs do. You can reduce your power bill significantly and decrease wasted energy.

7. Replace Outdated Equipment

Look for the EnergyStar rating on new print and copy machines, phones, computers, and other devices to replace old appliances that are sucking the life out of your energy bills.

8. Use Programmable Tech

Install motion-sense lighting that shuts off when there’s no movement in a room after a certain amount of time. You can also set the lights on a timer as a fail-safe to make sure no one leaves a light on after hours.

Programmable thermostats can be highly useful for your company. You can set the heat and air conditioning on a timer so that the system turns on during business hours and shuts down afterward. You’ll be amazed by the difference in your utility spending once these features are in place.

9. Try Green Web Hosting

Though it may seem as if online interactions are completely eco-friendly, that’s not necessarily the case. Green web-hosting companies participate in initiatives to reduce their energy consumption and encourage renewable energy initiatives. By supporting these hosting services, you also support the environment.

10. Get Rid of Plastic Bottles

An average of 32 million tons of plastic waste are generated in the United States every year. Instead of offering water bottles and paper cups in the office, give every employee a reusable water bottle that can be used for water while at the office, and then at home.

 

Environment

Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations

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green housing techniques

Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

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Environment

How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions

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auto industry to clean air pollution

Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.

Progress

The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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