The buzz around the green economy and sustainable business practices has been growing louder, and many businesses are taking steps to make their operations more environmentally friendly. But some companies may be making the mistake of focusing on sustainability initiatives that don’t make business sense while ignoring other practices that could significantly impact their bottom line. Here are five standard practices that can help you cut costs, boost profits and strengthen your company image.
Reduce energy use
Many businesses don’t realize that energy efficiency is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce costs. By simply making a few changes in your operations, you can save thousands of dollars per year on utility bills and take advantage of government incentives. For example, many states offer tax credits for installing solar panels or other renewable energy sources; in California, the average homeowner who installs solar panels can expect to see an annual savings of $15,000 to $30,000 on their electricity bill.
Another way to reduce energy costs is by implementing energy-efficient equipment, such as LED lighting and HVAC systems. For example, replacing traditional light bulbs with LEDs can save businesses up to $30 per fixture—and that saving adds up quickly over time! Not only do these changes cut down costs but also they help reduce the amount of carbon your business emits into the atmosphere. This is important because carbon emissions are a major contributor to climate change, which can threaten your company’s long-term viability.
Responsible water management
Responsible water management is another way to reduce your company’s environmental impact—and save money. For example, using less water can help you avoid costly water bills and reduce the amount of energy required for pumping and heating water. It can also help protect local ecosystems from overuse by reducing runoff into rivers and streams.
The best way to implement a responsible water management strategy is during the construction phase of your project. For example, you can install water-efficient faucets and toilets in bathrooms, use high-efficiency shower heads and low-flow faucets in showers and sinks, and install a water recycling system. Water control plans are also necessary for commercial and industrial buildings. These plans help you track your water usage, set goals for reducing consumption, and identify ways to optimize your operations.
Reduce, reuse and recycle
These are the Rs that every business should follow to reduce its environmental impact. You can start by reducing waste and reusing what you can’t recycle. For example, if you have old office furniture or equipment that’s no longer useful, donate it to charity instead of throwing it away. Use recycled materials whenever possible for your building projects and encourage employees to save paper by printing only when necessary.
Proper waste management helps you reduce costs such as hauling fees and disposal costs and improve your reputation in the community. On average, companies spend close to $50,000 per year on their waste management needs. If you’re not sure how to reduce your impact on the environment, consider working with an environmental consultant who can help you develop a comprehensive recycling plan.
Choose sustainable materials
The materials you use to build your office space can significantly impact the environment. For instance, if you choose materials that are made from recycled content or renewable resources, such as bamboo and cork, you’ll reduce the carbon footprint of your building project—and save money in the long run. Another way to reduce the negative impact of your building project is by choosing low-emission materials. For example, opt for drywall that’s made from recycled steel and cement. This type of drywall reduces CO2 emissions by up to 80 percent compared with traditional drywall products.
While sustainable materials may be more expensive than their conventional counterparts, the cost difference is small compared to long-term savings. For example, if you choose cork for your flooring instead of ceramic tile, which requires more energy to manufacture and transport, you’ll save money in both the short- and long term.
Going green doesn’t have to break the bank and can even save you money in the long run. The trick is determining which parts of your business you can improve without spending a lot of money and which ones may require more investment. But if you’re looking to make changes that positively impact the environment, there are plenty of ways to do so without sacrificing quality or comfort. Sustainability not only allows businesses to help the environment, but it also allows them to save money in the long run. So, whether you’re looking for ways to reduce your environmental impact or improve efficiency and cut costs, these tips should give you some ideas of where to start.