Gone are the days where going green meant spending a fortune on eco-friendly products or buying recycled paper for the printer. There are now more ways than ever for your business to operate in more environmentally-friendly ways, while saving money at the same time. The people at the Environmental Management Assistance Program define going green as “…reducing the total environmental impact of your business.” Sounds easy enough right? Follow these tips to not only go green but reduce your costs, no matter the size of your business.
Heating and Cooling
Natural Resources Canada has found that heating and cooling accounts for 57 per cent of the total energy consumption for a commercial building, with heating accounting for 49 per cent of that total. That’s a high number, so it’s a good place to start with some energy-saving tips.
Tip: Adjust the thermostat! According to carbondiet.ca, “For every 1 degree Celsius you lower your thermostat, you save 2% of energy use.” So go ahead and use a bit less heat in the winter and air conditioning in summer. You’ll see the savings right away.
Tip: Update/upgrade old heaters and air conditioners. If they aren’t operating efficiently, you are simply wasting energy and money.
Tip: Have your office audited for energy efficiency. Contact your local energy provider to see if they will perform an audit of your office space. Once you’ve identified your energy efficiency weak spots, they’ll likely have some practical recommendations you can put into practice.
Tip: Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are said to transform only 10% of the electricity they consume into visible light and the rest is lost as heat. They also tend to need to be replaced more frequently than CFL or LED bulbs. Claire Moloney from PoplarNetwork.com shares tips like this in an excellent article outlining the differences between the three types of bulbs. She also breaks down the amount of savings you could expect from switching the type of bulbs you use and the typical payback periods of when you can expect to recover costs.
Tip: Use less lighting. Try to incorporate more natural light into your workspaces and use only the lights that you need around you. Do all the lights in the office need to be on if everyone is in the conference room? You might want to consider installing a motion-activated system so that you’re only lighting rooms when you need them.
Tip: Turn off and unplug computers and all office electrical appliances at night. This will prevent phantom loads, which is when electronics use power even when they’re off. Use power bars to control, and stop, all power from flowing to anything connected to it.
Tip: Check with your local utility service provider about any incentives for businesses and homeowners. For example, Toronto Hydro has an incentive for small businesses where they will give you $1,500 worth of lighting for FREE! Also, Ottawa Hydro has various coupons you can use to get instant savings when you buy certain energy efficient products, such as light bulbs and power bars. On the west coast, BC Hydro offers a Power Smart program that offers incentives, tools, and resources to help businesses of any size operate more energy-efficiently. So it’s definitely worth your time to take a look at your local provider, as there might be free money on the table just waiting for you.
Products and Services
Tip: Move towards becoming a more digital office. As the Going Paperless blog puts it, “the phrase digital office means a business that operates with electronic, as opposed to paper files.” While a completely paperless office isn’t practical for most businesses, there are many cost benefits of adopting more digital-based operations, including saving money on printing, postage and physical storage of files.
Tip: Print only what’s absolutely necessary. If it’s not going to be referenced later, you likely don’t need to make a paper copy
Tip: Use the cloud for document sharing. There are many cloud service options out there, both free and paid, that can make file sharing much easier and cheaper. If you’ve got team members who work from home or are distributed around the country (or the world!) this will definitely make you more efficient and save you printing and postage costs.
As you read these suggestions you might be thinking, “Ok, I know these things will save my business money over the long run, but we don’t have the money to make some of those updates/upgrades right now”. Like anything in your business, you need to make a plan for going green. Start by identifying what small fixes you can make in the short-term, and then set goals for bigger changes you’d like to work towards making in the long-term.
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