In this age where the threat of irreversible climate change continues to loom over us, striving for sustainability is more than just advocacy–it’s a social responsibility. Businesses left and right are joining this fight for climate control and environmental conservation. Being some of the biggest producers of waste and carbon emissions, it is only right that they make the utmost effort to make their operations more sustainable.
Aside from being a responsibility to the environment, going green is also a great way to reduce business costs. However, making the business more sustainable may require some investments. Here are some of the best ones:
1. Solar panels
When it comes to renewable energy for businesses, commercial solar panels are perhaps the best options. While solar panels, in general, require a substantial initial investment, the trade-off is well worth it–free and clean energy for years to come. Moreover, solar panels require little upkeep, which means business owners don’t have to worry much about maintenance costs, or even repair bills, for that matter. Once installed, a business would only have to call in a specialist to maintain the unit once or twice a year, at the bare minimum.
If the cost of solar panels is too high, businesses can try to qualify for tax credits from government agencies that incentivize the use of clean energy. They may also qualify for low-interest loans if they have also invested in energy-efficient equipment, which can help reduce the overall cost of installing solar panels on the property.
Alternatively, businesses can source energy from suppliers that produce renewable energy, be it from the sun, wind, or water. This option can be much more cost-effective and inherently less risky for businesses that either can’t afford or don’t want to commit to installing their own solar panels on the premises.
2. Paperless technology
There are so many tech solutions that can help businesses reduce their paper waste. Digital tools and cloud technology are perhaps the two most important ones. With tools that allow employees to digitalize documents, there is no need for hard copies, saving not only paper but printer ink and energy as well. And with cloud technology, employees don’t have to print out files to share them with each other; they can simply store the files in the cloud and allow access to whoever needs them.
Digital notepads also eliminate the need for sticky notes, printed memos, and meeting agendas. Employees can simply use their digital devices, be it smartphones, laptops, or tablets, to take notes or set up reminders without using paper or ink.
Offering employees the option to work from home provides many benefits. From an environmental point-of-view, letting employees work remotely reduces energy consumption in the office, decreases carbon emissions due to commutes, and helps downsize the amount of trash that they produce each day (coffee cups, straws, takeout containers, and other disposable items that they use at work). On the other hand, this kind of work set-up also helps the business reduce overhead costs, while also increasing morale as employees learn to form a more positive work-life balance.
However, letting employees work from home requires investing in telecommuting technology, including computers, business telephone service, communication programs, videoconferencing tools, and more. With the many benefits of telecommuting, however, these investments will seem insignificant in comparison.
4. Energy-efficient equipment
Investing in energy-efficient equipment is one of the best ways to reduce energy consumption in any building. When buying equipment (computers, printers, appliances, etc.), business owners must look for options that have an ENERGY STAR label. This label signifies that a particular piece of equipment or device has passed the energy-efficiency requirements as set by the U.S. Department of Energy. Equipment with an ENERGY STAR label can use from ten to 50% less energy than a regular counterpart.
Lights are also the biggest consumers of electricity in any commercial building. That said, it is crucial to invest in the most energy-efficient lights there are, which are LED and CFL lights. These lights use anywhere from 25-80% less energy than other types of bulbs. More than that, LED and CFL bulbs can last 25 times longer than incandescent or halogen bulbs, thus reducing maintenance expenses in the long run.
Sometimes, a business will have to make investments to become more sustainable. Nevertheless, these investments will reap financial dividends down the road, both from reduced overhead costs and increased revenue (due to customers preferring green businesses). More importantly, making these changes towards sustainability contributes significantly to the planet’s fight against climate change, pollution, natural disasters, and other environmental issues.