The steps you need to make to help your business to go green don’t change much over the years, because the Three Rs don’t change.
The Three Rs — Reduce use, re-use and recycle — are a triad that all but defines an approach adopted by conservationist in the 1960s. And, as stodgy as it may sound, the green movement today is mostly an updated version of ideals in discussion then.
Almost all of the environmental systems in a modern business can be discussed with the three Rs in mind. How much electricity does your business use? What about paper use? What about the buildings your business occupies?
To go green is to walk quietly through the path presented to you. This can save your business money, raise its status (or its appeal) among clients and create a healthier workplace.
Where do you start?
Is your workplace plant friendly? Does it have natural lighting and have plenty of glass on the south side of the building? While having indoor plants is somewhat of a token gesture in the overall scheme of things, they still send a clear message to anyone who walks in the door: We are stewards of our domain. And we like it green.
The assumption that any business can simply go off the grid and live off of solar panels on the roof or build a green building from scratch is very simplistic. Not every business can go that far.
But every workplace deserves an energy audit to see where there may be some waste or some inefficiency. Maybe lights are left on when a timer might shut them off. Maybe the windows are leaky, causing your demand for heat and cooling to rise. Maybe the company’s fleet of vehicles – even if it’s just one – could simply use a tune up.
Energy audits have become more specialized and more insightful over the years, as energy auditors compete for your business. As such, the more you save, the more highly you recommend your energy auditor to others. This has been a big plus for the planet and saves some large facilities tens of thousands of dollars.
Conservationists still love passive systems. Why crank up the air conditioning, when you can plant trees to shade the building and make sure that windows open on multiple sides of the structure to allow a breeze to scoot through the building?
Passive heat is one of the most underutilized conservation tactics. Opening up a southern wall to allow sunlight heat the offices during the day can save lots of money and wear and tear on heating systems. The sun can also pre-heat water to lower your demand for electricity.
We use more and more gadgets every year. Fortunately, however, the electronics companies have a built-in motivation to providing us with efficient products.
That laptop in front of you as we speak: Years back, it was a clunky, power-hungry electric typewriter and in the ensuing years it was a computer that practically doubled as an oven, it used so much electricity.
Electronics also allows for a huge savings in paper products and the expensive ink used in jet printers these days.
In some businesses, paper is a scarcity these days. Customers using a sign in app not only save paper, but allow for seamless visitor registration. Advertising through emails or online has saved tons of paper products over the years – just ask a postal carrier who used to carry all that paper around in the old days.
Depending on your business, recycling can put to use in every facet of what you do. Your offices can even be built of recycled material.
Products can also be made of recycled or biodegradable material.
Some thought should also be put into how your business deals with trash. Is this a time to promote sorting and recycling on a local level, making sure plastic goes where it needs to go and paper, plastic and metal products end up in the right place?
Are there opportunities for green thinking that are unique to your business situation? Allowing workers to work shifts that allow them to avoid rush-hour traffic not only means more relaxed workers, but it means their cars – if that’s how they get go work – are not spewing fumes while idling in some traffic jam every day. Maybe just shifting the work-schedule a few hours forward or backwards will save them time, money and lower their personal carbon footprints.