Sustainable green business initiatives are buzz-worthy for many a good reason – a greener workplace reduces its impact on the planet while becoming a more productive and healthier place to work.
Going green might seem daunting, but contrary to what many cash-strapped small-business owners think, sustainability management doesn’t have to cost a fortune – in fact, it can be invaluable to your company’s bottom line as well as the environment.
Here are ten simple and affordable tips to help you run an eco-friendly business:
1. Pull the Plug
We are all conscious of our energy bills at home, but how many of us drop the ball at work? Research by the Carbon Trust shows that UK employees are willing to embrace new measures to cut down on excessive energy costs, with up to £300 million of savings to be made.
Computers are often left on overnight unnecessarily, which means they are constantly drawing energy for 168 hours a week instead of your normal working hours. Annually, pulling the plug can save between £30 to £70 in energy costs per computer.
We’re probably all guilty of leaving our chargers plugged in – from mobile phones to laptops, those chargers are adding to your electric bill every minute they’re not actually charging. So once your device is at 100%, unplug it!
The exception to the rule are smart power strips. They work to reduce your power usage by shutting down power to products that go into standby mode. By plugging all your gadgets into a power strip, you could save some serious cash.
2. Choose the Right Lights
Lighting doesn’t have to take a big bite out of the bottom line. In fact, a switch to energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) can slash energy use by up to 75%, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
Traditional light bulbs were either 60 watts or 100 watts, meaning how much power they use in an hour. The low energy equivalents use only 9 or 11 watts each hour, so represent a substantial power saving, even though they emit the same amount of light.
3. Conserve Human Energy
It’s worth bearing in mind that energetic, healthy employees will be more productive and creative. Help keep your team healthy by creating a safe, non-toxic environment. Serve sustainable brain food at meetings – nuts, organic fruits, vegetables and even dark chocolate all play a beneficial role.
4. Reuse and Recycle
Before you recycle, are you able to reuse office materials first? Think about using both sides of paper when printing and taking notes. Look into recycling initiatives in your community and enlist the support of your team to meet recycling goals. Why not purchase recycled paper products and ink cartridges? It’s worth encouraging staff to share stationary and to order refills rather than brand new items each time you make a stationery order. You might feel like you’re sacrificing convenience by sharing equipment such as scanners and printers across departments, but think about how much electricity this would save. Did you know that bad waste practices are costing UK Businesses an excess of £15 billion per year?!
5. Work from Home
Advances in technologies such as broadband Internet, smartphones and cloud computing mean that many jobs can now be done effectively outside of traditional workplaces. This has resulted in a significant increase in the number of UK employees who work remotely, with the total now standing at over 4 million out of a workforce of 30 million. Homeworking reduces employee commuting, resulting in carbon, money and time savings. If office space is properly rationalised to reflect this, homeworking can also significantly reduce office energy consumption and rental costs.
6. Cut Unnecessary Travel
In addition to working from home, consider meeting with staff to discuss greener ways in which they could commute to work, including public transport, car shares, cycling and walking. Is it possible to provide on-site washing and changing facilities at your workplace or negotiate discounts with local gyms to access their facilities? This, combined with adequate cycle parking could encourage your employees to bike to work. Why not try offering incentives to employees who try new options, such as a season ticket discount for those willing to take the train? When it comes to offsite meetings, could any of these be done via wide conferencing technology in order to reduce journeys?
7. Join the Digital Revolution
Replacing physical processes with digital ones has revolutionised mail, music, tax returns, shopping and many other fields, making them more responsive to consumer needs and reducing carbon intensity. Look at the major environmental impacts of your business processes and consider how ICT could be used to make them leaner and greener.
8. Replace Outdated Appliances with Green Equivalents
Energy Star appliances have labels which help you assesses their energy (and cost) requirements over time. When you buy your next appliance, look out for the blue and white energy star service mark. Paying a little more upfront can often prove far more cost-effective in the long run, making economic and environmental savings.
9. Get an Energy Audit and Make Simple Changes Around your Workplace
Did you know that it’s possible to get a free energy audit for your business from a professional engineer? Pioneering new technologies such as CHP (Combined Heat and Power), Thermal Storage, Solar PV, Smart Metering, Solar Thermal, Biomass, Inverter Drives, Aquifer Energy Storage and others are important tools to exploit to get energy costs under control. If your business is located in an older building, look out for cracks and leaks – sealing these can help slash your heating and cooling bills by up to 20%.
10. Use Eco-Friendly Products and Suppliers
Favouring locally sourced products and suppliers will reduce the carbon footprint of your deliveries. The smallest of changes can add up to make a huge difference. ‘Chemical-free’ cleaning is trending in the commercial sector, with technologies such as salt-based split stream water technology replacing conventional powders and bleaches.
Can your business incorporate greener cleaning methods, using products that are kinder to the planet? Companies such as Green Bear UK supply trade and industry with natural environmental friendly cleaning products at affordable prices.
If you are able to tackle the majority of these green business initiatives, you will be well on your way to achieving Corporate Social Responsibility! Being eco-friendly needs to be considered in the workplace in order to create a sustainable future and a positive working environment, where all staff are able to make a difference.
For those looking to formalise their green efforts, there is an internationally recognised certification for environmental standards called ISO 14001.