Going Green

Earth Day was April 22nd, but that doesn’t mean small business owners can’t be eco-friendly the other 364 days of the year. By better understanding the impact of their business on the environment, reducing their consumption of energy and water, using greener products and establishing a green strategy, small business owners can save money while saving the planet. It may even win you more customers: Remember that 73 percent of consumers think it’s important for a business to have a good environmental record.

Check Your Greenness

  • What’s your business’ environmental profile right now? How big is your carbon footprint and your exposure to environmental liability? Are you polluting or wasting resources? You can’t improve your environmental profile if you can’t quantify what it is right now. New York has an energy audit program specifically for small businesses; your state or utility may have one too. Make a record of how much power and water your business consumes, then walk through your operations and look for waste or unnecessary spending on inventory.

Reduce Your Power & Water Use

  • Gas won’t be cheap forever. Route-mapping software for your deliveries could help you save at the pump right now, and down the road. A heat-transfer system will use less power than traditional HVAC equipment, and it can both heat and cool your business. Water is in short supply in many parts of the country and many municipalities are upgrading its water-metering capabilities to better track its use. Bring in a plumber to make sure you have no leaks and have a conversation with your landlord about upgrading to water-sparing toilets. Could some of your employees telecommute? It won’t cut your power costs, but it will cut greenhouse gas emissions. Alternatively, you could offer a benefits package that includes a pre-tax benefit account which can be used on mass transit.

Use Greener Products

  • You need a computing device to run your business, but do you need a computer? Desktop computers use significantly more energy than laptops, and tablets consume even less. Can you put LED bulbs into more fixtures? Yes, they cost more than other bulbs but they use less energy and they emit less heat, which means a switch could also lower your AC costs. Check the S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star program for options. Establish a printing policy to cut paper waste, reuse and recycle, and switch to green cleaners wherever possible.

Build a Greener Business Strategy

  • The EPA offers a sustainability outline which helps owners identify how to be more sustainable when making decisions about running their business. This guide can help decision makers incorporate green initiatives into their business’ plan, resulting in an enhanced brand image, a key differential in the eyes of green customers.

Every little bit counts on the way to becoming a greener business, and by cutting your spending on energy you can improve your business’ cash flow. That kind of green always looks good.