Smart businesses go green because it makes sense.
Yes, it cuts waste, preserves natural resources, decreases our dependency on fossil fuels, can improve the health of our workers and the community and many other incredibly important things. But most of all it saves money and gives you the perfect opportunity to tell the world what you’re doing to save the planet.
Even though we all know it makes sense to be more energy efficient, many people still don’t realize the scale of the savings involved. But they are huge. According to the Power Forward 3.0 report, in 2016, 190 of US Fortune 500 companies, including IBM, Praxair and Microsoft, together saved almost $3.7bn through renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives.
If that wasn’t enough to tempt you to commit to going green, here’s another report: Better Business, Better World. It found that companies could potentially unlock a staggering $12 trillion in savings through implementing sustainable models by 2030. And this is only the savings, of course. As a result of going green, you’re also more like to make more money – as customers flock to you from your competitors, impressed by your green credentials.
1. Bring Your Personal Green Habits to Work With You
Today we’re all used to looking for ways to save energy and cut waste in our own homes. We use LED and energy-efficient light-bulbs; we pack our lofts with tons of insulation; we use smart meters to control our heating via apps on our phone, and take the time to recycle. But when it comes to our business we’re not always quite so committed.
In fact, a 2016 survey by the Telegraph and YouGov found that half of senior managers do not know what proportion of their expenditure goes to energy costs.
So, before you start crafting a plan to improve the environmental credentials of your business, know where you’re starting from. Measure your current energy usage; evaluate the current sustainability of your products and packaging; and make an assessment of your current environmental costs.
You may want to bring in an expert to help you with this auditing process, but if you put your head to it, you should be able to at least be able to get your hands on some figures you can start to work with. Without these initial figures, you won’t know later down that line how much of an impact your changes have had. And you won’t have the data to tell your customers how great they are!
2. Upgrade Your Structures with Energy Conservation in Mind
When you build a new office or work premises today, it must adhere to strict BREEAM standards for energy efficiency. But not everyone owns or leases premises built in the last few years. Your premises might be decades or even centuries old. This is a good place to start for businesses thinking about their energy usage.
You’re probably losing a surprising amount of energy through the structural elements at your facilities. In fact, according to TheGreenAge, about 35% of the heat will escape through the walls and through gaps in and around windows and doors. And about 10% of heat will disappear through the floor. Maybe it’s time to put down some thick carpet, or re-insulate your frames?
It’s usually best to call in the experts to undertake an energy audit and tell you where you’re losing heat and wasting light. An energy analyst will be able to help you find areas where you can use technology to help cut costs associated with energy and material waste. In fact, there is even new technology that will create a thermal image of your premises to pinpoint exactly where energy is being lost.
There are many independent organisations, consultants and energy suppliers to help you assess what you need to do to cut long-term costs. With their help, you may even qualify for grants designed to help you retrofit your business.
3. Unleash Clean, Green Energy in Your Production Centers
As any sensible person who cares about the environment will know, limiting your energy usage is only half the problem – you also need to know what the source of the energy is, and how it is being produced. Thankfully, there are many energy firms capable of providing companies with responsibly sourced, clean energy.
And there’s also the new option of producing your own energy. This isn’t nearly as difficult as you may first imagine.
Many companies of all sizes have started to see the benefits of powering their whole business using renewal energy – either produced by themselves or brought in. Twelve percent of small businesses now generate electricity onsite, according to a report by the FSB. Even global mega-corporations like Wal-Mart, General Motors, Bank of America, Google, Apple and Facebook have committed to powering 100% of their operations with renewable energy.
Some inspirational corporate leaders have been investing in renewables and natural energy for years. Lars Petersson, CEO and President of Ikea has been instrumental in driving the company not only to use solar arrays, but also build biogas-powered fuel cell systems at stores in the US. And retail-chain owner Philip Day, the entrepreneur behind Edinburgh Woollen Mill, operates one of the largest Anaerobic Digesters in the UK.
4. Upgrade your Vehicles, Packaging and Supply Chain to Comply with Your Greener Vision for the Future
But being green isn’t only about improving your facilities. You need to think about every part of your business. The three that should top your list are transportation, packaging and supply chain logistics.
First, whether your business runs 10 cars, 100 vans or a huge fleet of lorries, the next logical step is to bite the bullet, ditch your diesels and swap over to hybrid or fully electric vehicles. While this might seem like a huge cost, you need to think long term. By upgrading your vehicles you’re protecting yourself from future fuel price rises and make sure you’re ready for an electric-vehicle future.
Second, your company may still utilize cheap, non-biodegradable packaging. This is causing havoc for our oceans. According to Reuse This Bag, enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times. Companies should ditch this now. It may be expensive in the short-term, but you will win more customers in the long-term. Plus, taxes are starting to increase on plastic products, only expediting the ROI on upgrading existing packaging materials.
And last, but not least, you need to take a close look at your supply chain. You can have the most environmentally friendly company in the world. But, if your suppliers are dirty and you continue to provide them with business, you might be causing more harm than good in the long run.
4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again
As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.
Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.
Jars and Containers
Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.
An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.
Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!
If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!
Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!
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.