Greening your business

Brand enhancement and financial savings are two of the benefits

An incandescent lightbulb with two green leaves inside of it

Consumers like to support businesses that care about the environment. — bayhayalet/iStock/Thinkstock photo

Greening up your business is beneficial to the environment and to your bottom line. Not only will you help our planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions but you can realize many benefits to your business.

One of the most obvious is cost savings associated with energy efficiency. For example, does your building need energy-efficient upgrades such as new windows, a new furnace or better insulation? Can water be saved by upgrading faucets and toilets? Look at increasing machine efficiencies, turning off lights and switching to energy-efficient bulbs, decreasing paper usage, or reducing transportation use for goods or by employees.

As you green up your premises and practices, don’t miss opportunities to advertise your successes and build your green business reputation. To many consumers, green matters!

Changing your operation can be undertaken in incremental steps, little by little, if it seems overwhelming. The David Suzuki Foundation has a downloadable publication called Doing business in a new climate: A guide to measuring, reducing and offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. The guide presents numerous case studies on businesses’ green successes and states: “These businesses are looking to the future by demonstrating that solutions to climate change are possible, and even profitable.”

Below are eight steps to help you in the process, which works for businesses, municipalities, non-profit organizations and learning institutions. In any step—but especially the initial inventory step—you can hire a consultant if you lack the expertise or the time required.

  1. Begin by inventorying your business and recording inefficiencies as well as measuring your current carbon or ecological footprint. As the guide cited above notes, “What gets measured, gets managed.”
  2. Create a green strategy. This can be as simple or as complex as you want to tackle.
  3. Research programs that offer financial incentives for going green, such as making energy-efficient upgrades.
  4. Reduce your overall consumption. This is an easy starting point. What does your business waste, such as energy, supplies or other materials?
  5. Make a list of things that your business can reuse. Repurpose used paper for scrap paper, for example. Are there Items in the kitchen or break room that can be reused?
  6. Recycle all that you can.
  7. Get staff on board as their involvement is critical to long-term success. If your business is large enough, consider forming a committee for greening your business.
  8. Keep learning and realize that becoming a green business is a journey.

Whether you are on board for green changes or not, the future will likely bring more government policies or regulations that mandate such changes—so it's better to be prepared.

As the Suzuki Foundation guide says, “Climate change presents a major challenge for the business community. It will profoundly alter the way business is conducted in the future, illustrating how the environment and the economy are inextricably linked.”

Virginia Rasch

Virginia is a writer and copy editor with Koocanusa Publications. She is an avid outdoor recreationist in all seasons and has lived in the Kootenays for 10 years. With degrees in the natural sciences, she has worked as a tour guide, an environmentalist, a writer, and a copy editor of scientific publications. Virginia now brings her passion for everything green to Kootenay Business. View all of Virginia Rasch’s articles

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