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5 Operations to Reduce Your Business’s Environmental Impact

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91957046 By mattwalker69 Via Flickr

Every business affects the environment in some way—just like individuals, but on a larger scale. The degree of this impact varies with the type of business involved; for example, some companies produce or work with vast amounts of harmful chemicals they have to deal with, while others simply expend energy to keep the lights on.

Ignoring the variables here, every business has some responsibility to curb its impact on the environment through the initiation, execution, and oversight of environmentally friendly policies and procedures.

Procedures to Maximize Environmental Friendliness

These are just some of the general procedures your business should be following:

1. Root cause analysis. Not everything at your business is going to go perfectly; occasionally, you may see a spill, leak, or accident that affects the environment in some harmful way. Though your first line of efforts should be directed toward mitigating the damage and controlling the situation, your next step should be performing a root cause analysis, which as explained by Pinnacle Art, will help you identify the point at which the failure occurred. Then, you’ll be able to make corrections, replace faulty machinery, or address problems with individuals to prevent the incident from repeating itself.
2. Technological research. Technology is always evolving, and your business needs to stay on top of the latest developments if you’re going to maximize your energy efficiency. On a small scale, this could mean upgrading your light bulbs and heating and cooling equipment to the latest models. On a larger scale, it could mean investing in new, energy-efficient production equipment, or new software that can help you track and manage your environmental impact, possibly even through automation.
3. Recycling optimization. Recycling is one of the best ways to reduce your environmental impact. For starters, recycling reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, curbing the potential long-term impact we’re having on our ecosystems. It also prevents the need to produce new materials for future applications, overall reducing the amount of energy spent as well, as the natural resources we’re depleting. Best of all, recycling doesn’t take much additional effort; all you have to do is identify the materials to be recycled and separate them out from your standard waste.
4. Energy control. One of the best ways to reduce your total environmental impact is to reduce the amount of energy your business uses on a regular basis. This comes in a variety of forms, and there’s no one right or wrong way to do it. If you want to go basic with it, you can simply do a better job of turning out the lights at the end of the day and controlling the interior temperature of the office. On a broader scale, you can invest in more energy-efficient structures, from the equipment you use to the insulation of your building.
5. Employee awareness. You can also take a significant step forward by initiating an employee awareness program, helping your workers become more aware of the environmental impact of their actions, from how much energy they use to how their waste disposal affects the environment. Your policies may set a good standard, but remember your employees will be the ones executing them. Make sure they’re on board with your program.

One Step at a Time

Reducing your business’s environmental impact doesn’t need to be extensive, expensive, or intensive; you can make a meaningful difference in the world with every small step forward you take. Start with some basic programs, like opting to recycle the bulk of your ordinary materials, and gradually scale your efforts from there. Not only will your business have a better impact on the environment, but you’ll also set a better standard for the businesses in your area—and you’ll better appeal to your customers, too.

 

 

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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