SUSTAINABILITY DOESN'T MEAN MORE EXPENSE
It's easy to say you want to go green and a lot tougher to figure out where to get started. Going green can be viewed along the lines of doing more with less or accomplishing the same amount while being more efficient with your use of energy and water.
Under the current economic situation and with all the green washing in the marketplace businesses need to be wary and smart. A recent survey by the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that 70% of companies surveyed reported they have no funds directly budgeted for green improvements or initiatives and many organizations remain myopic on sustainability - a business driver that requires a wide focus.
WHERE TO START
- Figure out where you are. Make a thorough assessment of your current energy and consumables use, then implement green procedures and recycling policies. Cost - $0.
- Develop a strategy. Decide upon an action plan. Start with small steps and implement initiatives you know will work and are easily accomplished. Investigate outside incentives and programs. For example, make use of the current tax laws for rapid ROI to justify any capital outlays. Cost - $0.
- Update purchasing policies. Build sustainability into procurement. Accelerate, whenever possible, acquisition of newer, more efficient equipment to avoid escalating energy costs due to old, inefficient hardware. Cost - $0.
- Engage employees. Green initiatives go nowhere unless they are promoted. Educate employees and bring them into the process early on. Cost - $0.
- MEASURE: Arm yourself with as much information about the company's consumption of energy and water, your waste disposal and recycling procedures, and your staff's work habits and policies and then set a baseline for consumption, reuse, and re-education.
- ANALYZE: Once you've set the baseline it is much easier to identify offenders, uncover wasteful practices and begin to implement new, greener ways of conducting business.
- ACT: Adjust operations and schedules as is warranted. Replace, repair, and turn-off offending equipment and embrace no cost or often inexpensive solutions to consumption. Keep in mind that every initiative, however small, will generate savings and compound those savings over time.
Starting and implementing green business practices should be a top priority for all organizations, particularly in these sluggish economic times. For little or no cost and with a guaranteed payback going or becoming greener is not a political or feel good issue but a business imperative where failure to act indicates poor management judgment.