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4 Great Paths to Implementing Sustainable Business Practices

International Earth Day is coming up soon, on Wednesday, March 20, so what better time to talk about sustainability and green business practices?

A just-released, long-term study of climate change has shown that global temperatures have jumped in the past 100 years, and at a pace that is unprecedented in the geologic record. The joint report from Oregon State University and Harvard University states that the ten-year period from 2000 to 2009 was hotter than 75% of the last 11,000 years. And it is not a cyclical warming. The decade from 1900 to 1909 was one of the coldest ever, suggesting that the world would be cooling now if not for man-made fossil fuel emissions.

All of this means sustainable practices are more important than ever. While we may not be able to stop climate change, we can definitely work to mitigate as many negative effects as possible. Oftentimes, making greener choices makes financial sense as well, and potential customers and clients will love choosing an eco-friendly business to work with.

Here are some tips to make your business greener and to help do your part to make the world a better place for future generations.

1)     Install energy and natural resource-saving devices

Replacing incandescent lighting with fluorescent and LED bulbs is a well-known and well-travelled path to savings on a business’s utility bill, but there are other things you can install to make an even bigger difference. Putting motion-activated lights in less commonly used office spaces (like meeting rooms, break rooms, bathrooms and the kitchen) are great at reducing energy costs, as water faucets controlled by motion sensors are as well. Programmable and ‘smart’ learning thermostats can be installed to automatically adjust heating and cooling levels during business hours and to turn them off at night.

2)    Make reducing transportation needs a priority

This may cover a lot of sustainability points, but anything that involves moving people, products or supplies is a great target for reducing your carbon footprint. Encourage carpooling, use of public transit, bicycling or even walking to work. When it makes sense, allow workers to telecommute. Invoke the power of the internet and utilize video and teleconferencing solutions for business meetings instead of driving across town or flying across the country. Buy office supplies from local businesses to decrease the amount of fuel burned to deliver your pens and paper.

3)    Communicate openly about green policies

The best way to ensure adherence to company sustainability policies is to talk about them often and openly, both internally and externally. Employees are more likely to comply if they are aware of why the standards are in place and are usually the best people to ask about ways to make the business even greener. External people also love to hear about sustainability efforts. Investors, prospects, trade associations and even media outlets like to see ambitious environmental goals achieved and projects completed. The coverage they generate will make your marketing department happy too.

4)    Consider greening your actual facility

If you are in the enviable position of owning your business’s office building or manufacturing facilities, think about putting in photovoltaic cells on the roof or surrounding property. Generating electricity on site can drastically reduce or even eliminate utility bills and announces to anyone passing by that sustainability is important to your enterprise. If you are thinking of constructing a new building, get in early on the trend and have an architect design you a green building from the ground up. According to a recent survey of 62 companies around the world by the real estate research unit of McGraw Hill, 51% of respondents are planning to move 60% of business operations to “green buildings” by 2015.


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