We are all increasingly aware of how vital is it to act now and decisively to protect our environment. This applies to companies too. In addition to purely green concerns, “With so many products and services to choose from, it has never been more important to differentiate yourself from the competition. Going green is a great way to stand out [and] going green can help your bottom line” as Forbes so succinctly puts it.
Where to begin
Several sources suggest that before an organization can go green it needs to know how far it is from being green. In other words, the company must first list all the areas of operation that are relevant and then quantify usage. For example, how much water is used each month? What is the monthly power consumption?
There are various State (such as the EPA) and private bodies that assist – on-line or in person – with energy audits of this kind. Once the company knows what it has and what it uses, it can work to reduce its carbon footprint by making changes or replacements.
Green options for companies
*Power a business using alternative energy. Green energy or energy that is not derived from burning fossil fuels is available from clean, renewable sources such as solar, hydropower, geothermal, and wind. While solar, which is rapidly gaining ground as the foremost choice, can be costly to install, savings are made from the first month and the green benefits are enormous. Groups such as Solar Action Alliance provide a platform from which to explore solar power specifically.
*Use natural materials such as wood and stone, live plants, and natural sunlight. Not only does it look good but it is practical, reduces energy usage, filters the air in work spaces, and improves productivity.
*Replace equipment with a green energy and / or water efficient option. There’s no need to replace everything at the same time but the business can do so as an item requires replacing because it’s inefficient, broken or outdated.
*Set PCs and other computers so that they go to ‘sleep’ when not in use as this conserves power and saves money.
*Replace lights with LED or compact-fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. Admittedly they cost more than standard or incandescent light bulbs but given they use less power and last longer they are cost effective over time.
*Most companies already recycle certain items; paper and paper products come to mind first. However, companies can and should go beyond this by using recycled or post-consumer waste (PCW) paper when paper must be used. Employees can be encouraged to recycle by placing recycling containers throughout the premises.
*Move to a paperless environment as much as possible while still ensuring the safety of data and complying with financial and legal requirements. Server and Cloud technology have come a very long way. Do businesses really need files of papers or could documents be scanned and safely stored.
*Green products and promotions should also be a feature of a businesses’ daily life. The items a business sells should be eco-friendly as much as possible. Packaging material should be recyclable and / or biodegradable. This should also apply to promotional items and corporate gifts.
*Businesses should use the services and products of green suppliers whenever possible. In other words, source companies that use alternative power, fund or run green initiatives, etc. rather than using or supporting non-green businesses.
There can be no doubt that going green not only benefits a company’s bottom line but it also promotes their reputation and image, especially with eco-aware consumers, and it boosts staff morale and productivity. An article in The Huffington Post reminds companies that green actions don’t need to be limited to the business premises or working hours.
Companies can take part in green activities in the community, sponsor events, contribute to green research projects, promote Earth Day, establish carpools, and encourage staff to use lift schemes, public transport, or other forms of green transport.