Sustainability is increasing in importance -- to both today’s consumers and your employees. The media has expanded its coverage of climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic has created more significant concern about the health of the environment -- and the people who inhabit our planet.
The number of LEED-certified buildings is on a steady upswing, but businesses do not need to invest in massive upgrades to be more respectful of the environment.
1. Know Your Facts
Sustainability means different things to different people. McGill University sums it up with this simple yet powerful statement:
“Sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Part of a sustainability effort is a focus on the environment itself. Among the many issues faced by our planet (in addition to global warming) are air, noise, and water pollution, urban sprawl, waste management and disposal, and over-use of energy.
All business owners -- large and small -- need to become more aware of the impact their actions and operations have on the environment. They can then start to take smart steps toward reducing their carbon footprints and contributing to their customers’ health and the communities they serve.
2. Audit Yourself
Although larger enterprises may have individuals or entire departments dedicated to environmentalism and sustainability, even small operations are taking steps to build healthier workplaces and reduce waste.
Consider aspects of your business, such as:
- The materials you’re using to create or renovate physical structures.
- How you dispose of waste.
- Packaging of your products and services.
- Energy usage -- including HVAC and lighting.
- The types of appliances and equipment you have.
- How you source your materials.
- Your use of transportation.
You may find that some of your current operations are not only harming the environment but also costing you thousands of dollars each year in unnecessary expense.
Once you’ve gathered your facts, look to other businesses similar to yours and the steps they’ve taken to become more environmentally conscious. You’ll find facts and case studies for different industries here.
You’ll also find that incentives may exist for “going green.” Not only are your actions good for our planet, but they can be useful for your wallet as well. For example, reducing the amount of paper your company uses or switching from fluorescent lights to LED lighting can have significant and long-lasting financial benefits.
Engage your team in efforts to become a more sustainable company. Environmentalism often requires habit change. Make these small steps a group effort.
3. Enjoy Significant Energy Savings
How your business uses energy -- heating, cooling, and lighting -- can have a massive impact on environmental health.
The business world contributes to 22 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable energy solutions (like geothermal heating and cooling and solar power) are coming down in price, and many businesses have adopted them.
Lighting is another area that is being tackled by businesses of all sizes. Some companies have seen up to a 60 percent reduction in costs by switching to LED lighting. The right types of lighting can also contribute to the health of your employees and customers.
4. Become a Thought Leader and Trusted Company
According to a recent IBM study, about eight out of ten respondents say sustainability is essential. Among those who believe it is very or extremely important, more than 70 percent would pay an average of 35 percent more with companies that care about the environment.
By championing and communicating environmentalism, you will not only become a preferred brand, but you’ll have an easier time attracting the best talent to your company.
As you take steps to reduce your carbon footprint, use energy more efficiently, swap outdated systems for those that are environmentally friendly, communicate your efforts to your community and the media.
As you develop your giving strategy, develop partnerships with causes and local organizations with environmental missions. Involve employees in efforts like local clean-ups and educational efforts for schools and community groups.
But beware “greenwashing” -- heralding efforts that may seem to be earth-friendly but don’t contribute to environmental well-being. Today’s customers are savvy and will see through the hype.
Save the planet while saving money. Get your lighting audit today.