If you're not sure where to start and what sustainability measures are right for your company, here's some insight to help you decide which green initiatives will pay off for your business and which may not be worth the time or expense.
Start with the Obvious – Use Less of Everything and Track Savings
Using less of everything – water, electricity, fuel, paper, printer ink – makes common sense. Similarly, ask yourself some basic questions: Can I recycle? What about introducing a lights out policy in meeting rooms that are not in use and in the building at night? Does it make sense to let my employees telecommute?
As you look for areas where you can make savings and be greener, try it out for a month and compare your business expenses to previous months. If you can demonstrate clear dollar savings, then getting the entire company behind you is going to be a lot easier. You can also use the savings you have made to fund bigger sustainability improvements. If you run a service business such as a hotel, implement a towel re-use policy or a key-card activated energy-saving system that powers down the room when a guest exits. These can reap huge savings. Look for areas that make sense to your business. For example, can you dispose of less by buying re-usable versions of the same product? For example a California hair salon switched from using disposable latex gloves worn by stylists to color hair – which set them back nearly $3,000 a year – to investing in heavy-duty reusable gloves at a cost of a couple of hundred dollars.
Check out these “Sure Energy Savers” tips from Energy Star for ways to realize quick savings now.
Invest Now to Save in the Long Term
If you lease a facility, then it may not make sense to spend money greening your building’s infrastructure, aside from easy-to-implement fixes like using energy efficient light bulbs or equipment. However, if you intend to be in the space for several years, then it’s worth crunching the numbers to see if it’s worth making longer-term green fixes such as upgrading your AC system. If you are going to be in a facility for five years and it will take two years to pay back, why not do it? Even modest changes can make a big difference and be paid off quickly. Fixes such as improving insulation and capitalizing on natural light by using frosted windows instead of blinds has the potential to reduce your electric bill by up to 80 percent – a massive saving for small businesses. Of course this all depends on your location and other variables, but quick fixes such as these do have the potential to generate 15-20 percent in savings.
Get Help Ascertaining the Savings of Pricier Sustainability Upgrades
You don’t have to go it alone; there are many organizations that can help you determine which sustainability measure will help you reap the best return on your investment.
The Bottom Line
While green measures and investments can have both short- and long-term financial payoffs, the benefits are not just in dollars saved. If your company places a high value on green practices, the feeling that “we are all doing good” can really set you apart both to your employees, your customers and community as a whole.