7 small steps to start making your business more green-friendly

Customers are increasingly looking towards the companies they shop with to be more environmentally conscious, and they like to see deliberate steps being taken towards a greener status. The good news is, going green can also help you to save money and increase your productivity in some areas. Here are seven small steps you can take today for great results.

1. Change to recycled paper

You may not have a choice about whether you print things out, but you can certainly choose how you do it. Select only recycled papers to fill up your printer – you won’t notice any difference in the quality, but you will be saving forests when you do it. Be careful about the brand you select: check that you are using paper which is made from 100% recycled materials, rather than a lower percentage.

7 small steps to start making your business more green-friendly

2. Switch to environmentally-friendly lightbulbs

It doesn’t make much sense why we are still using outdated lightbulbs for our offices and homes. Eco-friendly lightbulbs last longer, use less energy and thus cost you less over time, and help the environment. Not only that, but they’re usually the same price or cheaper than the lightbulbs you normally pick out, too. This may not have been the case ten years ago, but there’s no excuse now.

3. Use bike couriers, not cars

Switching to a bike courier will do the environment a huge favour. Skipping the exhaust fumes will be fantastic for the planet as a whole and also your own particular part of it, since these fumes are often responsible for dangerous air pollution. Bike couriers are also faster, which means an extra bonus on your side – the recipient will be hugely impressed at how quickly you make the delivery. 

4. Do an energy audit

You may be able to get an energy audit done for free, but you could also start the process yourself by simply taking a look around the office. Cracks and rotten wood around window or door frames, could be allowing heat to leak out, thus costing you energy. Look around the edges of the room too, across the ceiling, and in vulnerable places. Sealing up these leaks could cut as much as 20% off your heating or cooling bill and, of course, help save the planet by using less energy.

5. Encourage car pooling

Are your employees driving in individually from the same areas? Encourage them to start car-pooling or even taking public transport. Put a rewards system in place where the eco-friendliest travellers can win goodies like a free lunch or an hour in lieu time. This will help to cut down the emissions your workplace generates overall.

6. Recycle your furniture

Next time you need to replace a chair or get a new filing cabinet, consider going vintage. Second-hand or repurposed items help the environment too. eBay and Craigslist are both great places to search for vintage or barely-used second-hand furniture that won’t cost too much. 

7. Switch to green web hosting

Where is your company website hosted? Green hosting companies pledge to use renewable energy, plant trees, or offset their carbon footprint. Voting with your wallet and switching to green hosting will be a decisive gesture, and will be a badge of honour to display on your website as well. 

Any office can go greener very easily, as these seven small steps show. Once you have completed these and seen the difference that it can make when you are more eco-friendly, you’ll be looking for ways to improve even further.

4 Tips to Reduce Energy Usage at Home

For a homeowner, reducing energy usage at home not only reduces your carbon footprint, but it also greatly reduces your energy bill. If you’re looking for ways you can start living a more “green” lifestyle or you just want to save more money, here are four tips to help you get started.

Opt for Energy-Efficient Appliances

When you think energy-efficient appliances, ENERGY STAR is the trusted label that comes to mind. Widely recognized, ENERGY STAR appliances meet the strict energy-efficient requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). When you choose ENERGY STAR appliances, you’re saving money and saving energy, all without sacrificing quality. For example, choosing an ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher is 10 percent more energy efficient, 20 percent more water efficient and will cost you $35 less annually compared to a standard dishwasher. It doesn’t stop at dishwashers, ENERGY STAR offers over 65 different products for your home ranging from lighting and appliances to consumer electronics.

Choose the Right Lights

There are a few choice when it comes to energy-efficient lighting, but light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are the way to go! Although these bulbs cost you more upfront than traditional incandcscent bulbs, they save you money in the long run, and most importantly, use less energy. Most people are aware of LED light bulbs, however, there are several other appliances and electronics that use light, like your refrigerator, microwave, security camera and television, to name a few. By choosing energy-efficient options, specifically LED, you will reduce your energy usage. For example, Lorex Technology offers several security cameras with LED lights and LED screens that are energy efficient and high quality. In addition, previously discussed ENERGY STAR appliances also utilize LED lights that are more efficient than their counterparts.

4 Tips to Reduce Energy Usage at Home

Unplug Idle Electronics

Even after shutting down the computers for the night, turning off the TV and switching off all of the lights, your electricity meter is still working hard. Nearly one-quarter of home energy use is consumed by vampires, not blood-sucking vampires, but rather devices and appliances that are still plugged in, wasting electricity even after they are switched off. The Natural Resources Defense Council and affiliates partnered to asses the impact of these vampire electronics and found that inactive devices waste about $165 per U.S. household on average, translating to approximately 50 large (500-megawatt) power plants’ worth of electricity nationwide. Unplugging these vampire electronics, or at least reducing their affects, starts with purchasing power strips that are easily flipped on and off, timers that shut down electronics when they’re not in use and turning off “quick start” options on your TV or gaming consoles so the energy grid isn’t being utilized on stand-by.

Be Smart When Heating and Cooling

Properly and efficiently insulating your home, including windows and the ceiling, cannot be emphasized enough. This will keep your home cool in the summer when you have the air conditioner on and warm in the winter with the heater running. Although you should leave insulation to professionals, the U.S. Department of Energy has great resources for where you should start if you’d like to make your home more energy efficient, while reducing energy bills. First, you need to find out how much insulation you’ll need and where it will go. This includes hiring a qualified home energy auditor to conduct an insulation check which identifies areas of your home that need to be sealed before you begin insulating.

Also, consider geothermal energy too from people like my buddies at Dandelion Energy!

Easy Ways to Live More Eco-Friendly

Everyone agrees that being more eco-friendly is a great goal, but is anyone really doing anything about it? You may be put off by the thought of composting, separating recyclables into a variety of bins, or buying new appliances that are more energy-efficient. While these are all good for the environment, there are several other steps that you can take that don’t require a lot of effort or money. 

Eat More Veggies, Less Meat

Along with the health benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables, eating less meat can aid the environment. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 26 percent of the Earth’s ice-free land is used to raise livestock, while 33 percent of croplands are used to grow food for livestock. Every year, we lose more forest land needed to grow crops to feed an increasing amount of livestock. Add in the methane produced by large amounts of animals, and it’s easy to understand why meat-eaters are being encouraged to lower their intake.

Borrow, Don’t Buy

Instead of buying new, try borrowing books, music, and movies from libraries; most keep a variety of each on hand. Shop for clothes at thrift stores, which often receive unused, overstocked items in mint condition. Start a tool collective with neighbors, and you’ll all save money; instead of buying a ladder that you use twice a year, borrow it.

Learn About Appliances

 We all love the convenience of appliances, and it’s unlikely anyone would go back to washing clothes by hand. Here are a few tips to make appliance use more energy efficient.

  • Washing machines: Use cold water whenever possible. This simple change will save you up to 90 percent on energy costs incurred by this machine.
  • Water heater: Set the temperature lower. Do you really need water set at 140 degrees? Drop it to 120; you won’t even notice the difference.
  • Dishwasher: Wash only full loads and use the timer to delay washing until after midnight; you’ll save on peak energy costs and reduce the strain on your city’s peak energy use times.
  • Clothes dryer: On nice days, hang your wash outside to line dry and soak up that sweet smell of fresh air; on rainy days, hang it inside.
  • Oven: Find ways to use your energy-hogging oven less. Use a pressure cooker, microwave or toaster oven instead. 

If you do find yourself in the market for new appliances, look for Energy Star appliances that are more efficient. Keep in mind that a front-loading washing machine uses less energy than a top-loading one. 

Go Paperless 

Digital technology has helped cut down on the amount of paper we use, but it has by no means conquered it. According to the EPA, making paper from recycled paper requires less energy, about 60 percent of the amount used to make paper from wood pulp. Manufacture of one ton of computer or office paper from recycled paper saves 3,000-4,000 kilowatt hours. Recycling one ton of paper also saves 15-17 mature trees. This does require a little effort to separate papers from trash, but it’s an easy step requiring only one separate bin.

Water Conservation 

There are several simple ways to save water.

  • Ban plastic bottles: Only 20 percent of plastic water bottles get recycled; the rest end up in the landfill. Use tap water and a reusable water bottle instead.
  • Showering: Use a low-flow showerhead, which uses 25-60 less water. Use a bucket to capture unused water from the showerhead and use it to water plants.
  • Turn the tap off: Be mindful of wasting water by leaving it running while you wash your face and brush your teeth. 

Water is one of our most precious commodities. Capturing water otherwise lost through evaporation is the goal of the Cadiz Water Project in Southern California. This project aims to create a new, sustainable water source, one of several innovative worldwide conservation efforts.

Save Electricity

Some of these tips you may have heard before, but they bear repeating, including this one that your parents tried to drum into you: Turn off lights when you leave a room. Opt for longer-lasting and energy-saving light bulbs, specifically compact fluorescent lights or CFLs. They use about one-fourth the energy of a regular bulb and last up to 10 times longer. 

Another way to save is to unplug your electronics when not in use. Even if they’re not turned on and active, they are still using some energy, which can add up when you realize how many electrical products you leave plugged in around the house. 

Most of these simple steps require little effort on your part; the hard part is changing your habits. Try to incorporate them one by one, so you don’t feel overwhelmed and give up. Remind yourself which habit you’re trying to learn, or break, by posting sticky-notes by the light switch, the faucet, or wherever appropriate and remove them once you’ve mastered the habit. 

2017 Best Options for Beautiful and Eco-Friendly Window Upgrades

Kaitlin Krull

Looking after your windows is a vital part of keeping your home safe and comfortable. Quality windows are also more environmentally friendly now than ever before, so occasional upgrades and repairs are essential if you want to reduce your energy bills and insulate your home. At Modernize, we help homeowners make their homes greener in simple and straightforward ways, so here are a few options to help you choose beautiful and eco-friendly window upgrades for your home. 

Looking after your windows is a vital part of keeping your home safe and comfortable. Quality windows are also more environmentally friendly now than ever before, so occasional upgrades and repairs are essential if you want to reduce your energy bills and insulate your home. At Modernize, we help homeowners make their homes greener in simple and straightforward ways, so here are a few options to help you choose beautiful and eco-friendly window upgrades for your home.

Period windows

Windows are one of the most prominent and recognizable features of older and period homes. However, homeowners often struggle to keep their period windows maintained to a modern standard of insulation and efficiency. If the original windows in your older home need some TLC, then don’t despair: specialist window professionals can tastefully upgrade your original windows and make them fit for contemporary living. Adding double glazing, shutters, awnings, and blinds to period windows will make them perform better throughout the year and increase your home’s green status while maintaining the charm and design style of your home.

Sustainable frames

Sustainable building is on trend in the construction world today and involves the use of low-tech craftsmanship and thoughtfully sourced materials to create a low-carbon product that is both beautiful and eco-friendly. If you want to incorporate these practices the next time you upgrade your windows, choose window specialists who create bespoke frames made from FSC certified sustainable wood or locally sourced aluminum and other materials. Shopping local also decreases the carbon footprint of your windows, since the shipping distance is negligible and less energy is consumed, while constructing frames by hand consumes less energy during the building process.

Skylights  If you want to further decrease your home’s energy bills and have already installed energy efficient windows throughout your home, it might be time to consider natural light as a supplement to your in-home lighting systems. Skylight windows are an often overlooked window alternative that will save you money on your electricity bills by maximizing the natural light in your home. Placing skylights strategically throughout your living spaces will make the most of exterior light and make your home more eco-friendly throughout the year—just be sure to choose skylights with double or even triple paned glass for added energy efficiency.  Unique windows  While traditional windows certainly have a place in your home, there are times when homeowners need or want to get creative with their windows for both aesthetic and environmental reasons. Floor to ceiling windows made from energy efficient glass (two or three panes with an insulating gas between layers and low-e coatings to increase insulation inside and reflect sunlight outside) create a stunning, bright effect in your home by bringing the outside in. Irregular shaped windows such as circles, semicircles, and long rectangles will add instant charm to your home, while restored or repurposed stained or

Skylights

If you want to further decrease your home’s energy bills and have already installed energy efficient windows throughout your home, it might be time to consider natural light as a supplement to your in-home lighting systems. Skylight windows are an often overlooked window alternative that will save you money on your electricity bills by maximizing the natural light in your home. Placing skylights strategically throughout your living spaces will make the most of exterior light and make your home more eco-friendly throughout the year—just be sure to choose skylights with double or even triple paned glass for added energy efficiency.

Unique windows  While traditional windows certainly have a place in your home, there are times when homeowners need or want to get creative with their windows for both aesthetic and environmental reasons. Floor to ceiling windows made from energy efficient glass (two or three panes with an insulating gas between layers and low-e coatings to increase insulation inside and reflect sunlight outside) create a stunning, bright effect in your home by bringing the outside in. Irregular shaped windows such as circles, semicircles, and long rectangles will add instant charm to your home, while restored or repurposed stained or

Unique windows

While traditional windows certainly have a place in your home, there are times when homeowners need or want to get creative with their windows for both aesthetic and environmental reasons. Floor to ceiling windows made from energy efficient glass (two or three panes with an insulating gas between layers and low-e coatings to increase insulation inside and reflect sunlight outside) create a stunning, bright effect in your home by bringing the outside in. Irregular shaped windows such as circles, semicircles, and long rectangles will add instant charm to your home, while restored or repurposed stained or textured glass gives your home a vintage look that is both eco-friendly and beautiful. Finally, functional windows such as glass blocks and egress windows give your home added security and privacy and can be made to your exacting standards of energy efficiency. To lear more about different window types check out Modernize Windows.

Urban Solar awarded contract by City of Tempe for solar lighting installations

BEAVERTON, OR – Urban Solar is pleased to announce the award of a contract to supply solar powered LED lighting systems to the City of Tempe, Arizona. The 5-year contract provides increased safety for Tempe residents and transit users, with reliable solar lighting systems including a stop recognition feature.

Tempe City Council passed a master plan in 2015 to enhance safety, quality of life, and technology in its transportation systems, and selected Urban Solar to provide enhanced safety with its transit shelter lighting systems. Urban Solar won top pick for its reliable, high performance solar lighting solutions designed for the transportation industry.

Tempe City Council passed a master plan in 2015 to enhance safety, quality of life, and technology in its transportation systems, and selected Urban Solar to provide enhanced safety with its transit shelter lighting systems. Urban Solar won top pick for its reliable, high performance solar lighting solutions designed for the transportation industry.
Urban Solar’s roots are in transit-specific design, particularly with bus stops and shelters. Urban Solar provides autonomous, stand-alone off-grid systems, which reduce the need for disruptive and expensive trenching to utility poles. Urban Solar lighting products have an industry-leading warranty and are tested, listed, and audited by Underwriters Laboratories (UL); the most prestigious nationally recognized testing laboratory (NRTL) worldwide.

“Tempe, Arizona, is an extremely challenging environment,” says Urban Solar VP of Engineering and Operations, Garnet Luick. “This competitive award provides further evidence of Urban Solar’s dedication to, and understanding of, high performance and reliability in engineering solar powered LED lighting solutions.”

Sources: Tempe Transit and Urban Solar