Save Money, Sustain the Environment & Make an Impact! - Sustainability, Systems Thinking, Going Green & Going Solar
Consumers are increasingly becoming aware about the need to obtain their products and services from organizations that have integrated the concept of sustainability into their Business model. According to the findings of the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study, global consumers feel a personal accountability to address social and environmental issues and look to companies as partners in progress. The study was done from a research base of 10,000 citizens in countries with some of the largest GDP in the world, including the United States, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, China, India and Japan. About nine-in 10 consumers expect companies to do more than make a profit, but also to operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues while conducting their businesses.
Against this background, this article attempts to provide 10 ways to green your business and save money. The following ways of greening your business are generic in nature and more industry specific ideas will be addressed at a later stage. These 10 ways just provide some Eco Sustainable Solutions that may be considered for your business just to get started. Comprehensive and well detailed options to green your business will depend on the nature/industry and the core business that your organization is involved in. For instance, eco sustainable solutions for a manufacturing company will vary from industry to industry. Also, some eco sustainable solutions from manufacturing companies will differ with those ones of service oriented companies that may not produce any products, but provide services to their clients. For your questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section provided below.
10 Ways to green your business and save money
The concept of going green is a cost-effective approach for companies to explore and get a return on investment (ROI). The greening of your business does not have to be a costly intervention and when used with proper planning and useful greening tools, such as checklists, case studies, calculators and other tools that can be found in the internet, this process can be simplified and a step by step process can be adopted to help realize potential savings from the actions of going green.
Going green for businesses can be approached differently based on the inputs and outputs of your business which involve the internal factors and external factors of your business. These factors may involve business processes including all the stakeholders involved (clients, suppliers, government and staff members). Therefore, in order to identify ways to green your specific business and save money we need to use a systems thinking approach in order to engage the relevant stakeholders that are involved in your business operations. However, that is a more detailed approach that can be approached using different greening toolkits or other tools to help develop a comprehensive strategy for greening your business.
To develop greening your business strategies or ways, consider the inputs (energy, water, transportation etc), the outputs (emissions, wastewater, solid waste etc) plus the business operations of your company that use technology, product development, marketing, administration and business strategic planning in their business model. Using systems thinking approach, it is possible to find eco sustainable solutions that can green these inputs, outputs and business operations. For instance, we can ask some important questions that will help us to develop ways for your business and later develop a company strategy or policy around these ideas to help implement or integrate greening into your company policy. For now, let start by asking about 10 questions to derive examples of strategies that can be used to green your business and save money.
1. Where is your energy sourced? Is it from a renewable energy source?
2. Does your company have a system in place to conserve water to save your water bill?
3. Does your company have methods or ways of controlling your emission levels?
4. What product/process does your company use to provide or have an integrated sustainable design into your product/service?
5. Does your company conduct preventative maintenance on its computers and appliances more often? When is the last time your company did an upgrade? Does your company use energy efficient appliance and computers or Energy Star labeled appliances.
6. What form of marketing is your company using to market your its services/products? Is it eco-friendly or does your company use paperless technology to market its products or services?
7. Have your company considered greening its office such as upgrading the type of printers used, using recyclable papers or 100% recycled paper for your business operations?
8. Does your company have a greening your business policy to support its efforts and raise the awareness to your employees, suppliers etc?
9. Does your company practice green procurement? How are your purchasing decisions made to consult suppliers that sell raw materials or office supplies etc?
10. What modes of traveling does your business use for its business trips and so on? Does your company consider video conferencing and other forms of digital communication to lower its transportation costs?
Since we have developed a simple checklist to act as our guide for greening your business, we can now list 10 ways to green your business and save your company money in the process. In the process, it is good to develop an analysis to compute, compare, even if it takes conducting life-cyle assessments to determine that actually implementing these eco sustainable solutions in your business will actually save the environment and save your company money (return on investment). The best place to start is to conduct a baseline assessment to determine what type of budget your company want to set aside for its sustainability or greening efforts before starting the process. Determining some of the low hanging fruits will be a good idea to consider appropriate and affordable green practices that your business can start with i.e. starting with the business case for your sustainability efforts.
Below are some low hanging fruits that perhaps your company could pick from depending on the size of your budget:
1. Producing your own power from a renewable energy source could generate your company affordable, clean and reliable source of power for some years generally for a solar PV system, this could range between 20 to 25 years and the interesting thing is that your company don’t have to pay for the system. You could get such a PV system with zero down payment and still save from about 20% to 30% of your current energy bill. However, your company may opt to own or take a loan to install such a PV system on your rooftop which could potentially save even a great amount for your business. To explore about this option, your company might want to conduct more research and using a solar energy calculator to provide you with more specific data retrieved from LiDAR technology. Such solar irradiation data has been scanned from the rooftop of your company to provide more specific solar potential data that will help to give your company a snapshot when it comes to:
- How much your company can save with going solar specific
- How many solar panels your company will need to get installed on your rooftop
- How much it would cost your company and different financing structures for your PV system etc
Start using this solar calculator here for more information.
2. Consider saving water and save your water bill because water is precious and critical resource for your business. There are different ways your company could consider saving water and hence the water bill in the long-term. There are water footprint tools that can be used to determine how much water your company is using and how it can save it. BEF has online water calculators to help you determine how to save water or off-set your water footprint. A few examples of saving water are:
- choose high efficiency fixtures with care
- fix any water leaks and install low-flow shower-heads (for instance for hotels) and aerators on all faucets.
- harvest rainwater to use it to irrigate your landscapes.
3. If your company emits carbon emissions, there are ways of reducing or mitigating carbon such as integrating renewable energy technologies such as solar energy in your system to off-set any other carbon emissions from your transportation, manufacturing or any other business operations that may be emitting carbon emissions.
To determine your carbon footprint, please see this calculator to determine emissions coming from transportation, building and see your results. If your company is interested in off-setting your carbon footprint, it can buy carbon or renewable energy credits from companies like BEF.
However, there are various ways of reducing emissions by adopting more efficient technologies or implementing energy efficiency or making retrofits to industrial processes thereby reducing emissions and save money in the long-term. Also emission reduction will depend on with the process or technology and how it can be improved or replaced to probably spend less energy and thus emit fewer emissions.
4. Integrate sustainable design in your products to use locally sourced materials and materials that are environmentally sustainable. This could include eco products that are 100% recyclable materials or raw materials that have been designed and produced according to environmental and social criteria.
5. If using old appliances or computers your company could upgrade to more energy efficient appliances that have the Energy Star label to save energy and money in the process.
6. To avoid using printed paper or reduce the use of paper for your advertising or marketing, your company could explore digital marketing techniques to source for its future clients. Using social media, SEO, emails and other forms of marketing will help to get your company clients without paper costs, reduce transport costs and it is a potential for saving on your marketing budget depending on the nature of your business.
7. Greening your office could include replacing your office equipment with more efficient ones. Look for Energy Star, qualified brands and models. Promote your business responsibly using digital media and use 100%recycled paper or FSC certified paper and print with vegetable-based inks or choose waterless printers companies. ‘FSC’ stands for Forest Stewardship Council, an organization that works to promote the practice of sustainable forestry worldwide. The Forest Stewardship Council is an independent body that bestows labels to certify that products meet specific environmental and quality forestry standards. Your office could also promote the green concept on your emails with use of appropriate marketing materials such as your logo.
8. Develop a greening your business policy and promote it to all levels of your company from the executive level to operational level so that all employees own and implement this policy. This would probably be the first thing to do on your action plan to ensure ownership of the greening your business.
9. Integrate greening in your procurement process and integrate it in your purchasing decisions for instance your printer inks could come from vegetable-based inks or non-toxic inks which could offer a number of other advantages such as reduce toxic waste and sourcing materials derived from renewable sources which make recycling a lot easier.
10. Video conferencing can be used to avoid travel to many meetings at local and in overseas helping to save on transport costs, reduced paper use and postage. Energy costs from your digital office can be reduced by use of efficient appliances. Also setting the computers to automatically “sleep” mode will help to reduce on energy costs. Air travel could adopt the carbon-neutral travel and try to book flights on airlines that offer a carbon offset option.
These are just a few examples of ways to green your business and save money. For more information and detailed or specific comprehensive ideas, your company can write to us at [email protected]
Also for professional advice on how to go solar, please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected] or you can get started now by going to this website and start comparing your solar energy options. Also you can start greening your office right away by sourcing for 100% recycled paper or FSC certified paper and print with vegetable-based inks from products from the GreenOffice. Check them out at TheGreenOffice.com
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