5 Things to Know This Month: Green Business
Posted on March 24, 2014
By coupling social responsibility with green business strategies, it is possible to create a communal sense of goodwill while building sustainable and impressive companies. In an exciting movement that invites society to do even more, socially conscious organizations have stepped up their efforts with increasing effectiveness and productivity.
Going green can be just as beneficial for small companies as large corporations. Not only is it good for the Earth, but customers and employees will also appreciate the eco-friendly products and practices. Adopting environmentally sound practices can be easy, but require steadfast effort and determination. Here are five steps to put green business in your future.
Build a Green Team
One of the first steps in creating a greener business is to create a Green Team. A Green Team consists of individuals within your organization that share a passion for environmentally-friendly business practices. They are responsible for strategizing, planning and organizing your green efforts.
Appointing members to your Green Team may be the most important element in the process, as this team will be integral in determining the success of your efforts. A team comprised of members with diverse interests, experiences and backgrounds ensures a wide-range of perspectives, which can lead to innovation beyond imagination.
In order for your Green Team to be successful, regular meetings are integral in the process. Team meetings should revolve around the discussion of accomplishments and development of future goals. Through tracking progress and thoughtfully planning future activities, the Green Team can maximize their effectiveness.
Undertake an Energy Audit
For those not in the know, an energy audit is an assessment of the energy needs and efficiency of a building. Energy companies will often provide free checklists for use in conducting self-assessments. Commercial audits
are an option as well, and most are available at little or no cost to the business owner. The inspection can be divided into two parts, exterior and interior, and should be comprised of analyses of the following components:
- Heating and cooling unit
- Outdoor lighting
- Central heating and cooling unit
- Water heater
- Indoor lighting and fans
Once the energy audit has been completed, your facility’s Green Team can begin outlining plans for alterations to the current space, equipment and processes.
Create a Green Facility
Creating a green facility can involve many things, too numerous to mention here, but even minor changes can bring about significant results. The results of your facility’s energy audit will provide more specific techniques for increasing energy efficiency, but there are a couple simple changes that you can make immediately.
Rather than running an excessive amount of lights at your facility, harness the power of the sun. Natural light is not only healthier for employees, but it actually leads to increased workplace productivity and lower utility bills. Although it is rarely possible to alter a building’s form and orientation to maximize natural light, reconfiguring workspaces will allow more personnel access to daylight.
Another reasonably simple strategy is to integrate energy efficient equipment into your facility. Energy Star equipment, low-flow water fixtures and LED or fluorescent lighting may prove more costly at the outset but will pay dividends in the future.
Use Green Materials
While not all business models can coincide with certain sustainability practices, slight alterations to the products that you offer can be the first step in the right direction.
Using high-quality, sustainable resources are easier than ever, as green materials are becoming cost-effective and readily available. The following guidelines are just a few ways that you can make an impact.
- Use durable products and materials
- Choose building materials with low embodied energy
- Utilize products made from recycled material
- Salvage materials when possible
- Minimize packaging waste
Although new technologies are constantly being developed to complement current practices in creating greener products, the efficient use of energy, water and other resources, all of which are associated with materials production, will have a substantial impact on the way you do business.
Communicate Your Efforts
One of the most important elements in sharing information about green business practices is to ensure that communications are transparent, offering a fact-based approach that delivers proof rather than empty promises.
This should begin with a top-down approach so that employees can become invested in the initiatives, thereby allowing for carryover to stakeholder groups.
Primarily, all information sharing about green practices must be credible. This involves conveying accurate information about the benefits and impacts of your initiatives, as well as acknowledging your future exertions and those that are assisting your efforts along the way. Of utmost importance, however, is to provide relevant and accessible information to clients. Your customers will want to know that there is a definitive connection between your products and a reduced environmental footprint. This will go a long way in garnering support for the initiatives that your business has chosen to pursue.