There are many ways for a business to go green. Social responsibility is becoming more and more of a deciding factor for consumers, and every business can take advantage of this. There is really no excuse not to ‘green up' your business, because it`s not necessarily more expensive, there are often all sorts of associated tax credits to take advantage of, and at the end of the day it feels good to do the right thing. The important part of green approach is technology. Companies nowadays include green tech in their company goals and mission statements, with innovations in technology being called disruptive businesses. The purpose of greening your business (regardless the size of your business) is to help improve your brand value and reputation, and at the same time save money and make a positive impact on the environment.
Listed below are some worldwide green solutions that have been utilized by various companies, including some of the most popular IT solutions as well.
Cut Down On Paper
The paperless office might sound good on paper (no pun intended) and it really can be, but it's not realistic for most businesses. Instead, meet somewhere in the middle. Cutting down on paper doesn`t mean eliminating it altogether; it just means doing what you can to reduce the amount of paper you're using. There will always be a need for paper, but with some careful planning and a little effort you can definitely find ways to use less. Think of everything that gets printed in an average week, how much of that could have simply been done on a computer instead?
Encourage Ride Sharing
Ride sharing, or car-pooling, is a great way to reduce footprint and make life more affordable for employees. In some work places the employees will organize these themselves, but having some type of official program can be very useful. If employees who work the same hours live near one another, they can save transit costs by sharing a ride. If certain employees don't have a car, they can always chip in for gas and hop in with someone who would be driving anyways. There are a lot of ways to make this work.
With all sorts of conferencing tech, affordable video chat systems and fast internet speeds available, there's really no need to drive across town and spend an hour or two on a ten minute meeting. Everyone can stay in their own offices and you can get things done in a matter of moments, rather than eating up a big chunk of your day on commuting. The toll on the environment is reduced, and you aren't wasting valuable productivity hours either.
Encourage Reusable Bottles
Instead of having a vending machine selling plastic bottles of water, why not have a water cooler or a high-quality filtration system and give your employees reusable water bottles that can even have your branding on them? You'll get exposure when your employees take their water bottles out and about to the gym, etc. Skipping plastic bottles is a great habit that really helps reduce the amount of waste that we create. 100 employees who each drink a bottle of water a day really adds up to a lot of waste after just one single year.
Turn Off Unused Equipment
Turn off computers and lights at the end of the day, and if a machine is seldom used then unplug it to eliminate it from drawing any power out of the walls. If the office sits empty at night, there's no need to have the lights on. Some workplaces tell their employees to keep their computers on to cut down on them having to wait for the system to boot up each morning, but if that takes more than a few moments then perhaps it's time to invest in some more modern machinery.
Take Advantage of Solar Power
Office buildings usually have a lot of space on their flat roofs, and this is an ideal place for solar panels. In some cases, the solar panels will provide more than enough energy and the building can actually contribute power back into the grid, but in any case a few panels will – at the very least – help to offset the electricity bill and you would be surprised how quickly they can pay for themselves.
Create a Green Culture
Not everyone in a business is going to care about going green or about the environment, and that`s completely up to each individual but when a company decides to take a stand as a green organization, it can really fire up the employees who do care about this type of thing. They`ll feel proud to work for a socially responsible company, and pride goes a long way in terms of productivity and overall performance.
What have you done lately to make your business greener? Hopefully this list of ideas will help get the ball moving. There are so many more options, just take a few minutes to walk around the office tomorrow and use your common sense. You might be surprised at how much waste is going on, and how easy it can be to fix. The benefits of going green are well known to big companies such as Google, Apple, Dell and others. But you don`t always need big resources for viable changes. The bottom line is: Green isn't just good for the environment, it's good for profits in the long-term.
Mary Ann Keeling is a freelance writer and business consultant who travels frequently. She is interested in all the forms of green IT that can best help in protecting the environment. A perfect example of which is Macquarie Telecom, an Australian based company with a forward-thinking green strategy.