A Good Environmental Strategy Will be Good for Your Business Startup

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Whatever type of business you are starting, there are steps you can take to join the ranks of the environmentally-friendly and energy efficient workplaces. Going green is not just a socially-conscious decision - it can also save your business money and attract customers concerned with environmental issues. A good environmental strategy will encompass all areas of your business, from building your space to incorporating the three Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) into your day-to-day work.

If you are building or renovating commercial space, building green means installing energy efficient HVAC systems, appliances and lighting. Many major construction contractors are altering their business practices to go green as well. Ask your contractors whether they are certified in green building and ask for recommendations on how to use green materials to renovate your space. Making sound environmental choices in building products won't necessarily cost more, and the effort to find green options in building will benefit everyone in the long-term.

If you have a home office or standard commercial office space, there are simple improvements you can make to the space to both cut energy costs and respect environmental concerns. Replacing your HVAC filters frequently will lower energy costs, as will using compact fluorescent lamps instead of standard light bulbs. Consider swapping standard light switches with occupancy-sensitive switches (they turn off when no one is in the room). Programmable thermostats are relatively inexpensive and will ensure you are not heating or cooling your space unnecessarily. Temperature can also be controlled inside through weather-protective measures like ceiling fans, weather-stripping, and other cheap insulation projects.

Many business supplies and products are also available in environmentally-friendly versions. Look for items made from post-consumer, recycled materials and that can be recycled or renewed again after use. Use bio-based and non-toxic materials whenever possible, and consider purchasing locally produced products.

All appliances and peripherals should be as energy efficient as possible - look for the Energy Start label when available. Consider using entirely or partially renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar power, for your company's electricity needs. If you choose to install it at your location, the original equipment to harness the energy will cost you a bit, but you will save money in the long run on monthly utility costs.  And many utility companies now offer the option of purchasing energy from renewable resources, often for almost no increase in cost.

Include environmentally friendly policies in your business's SOPs, and encourage a culture of responsibility in this area as well. Make it easy for your employees to follow the three Rs - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - by encouraging electronic rather than paper storage and document usage, providing recycling bins for the specific materials your local recycler will pick up, and offering incentives to employees who develop specific cost-cutting, Three R-compliant measures for the company to implement. If your company produces hazardous waste materials, you not only pay for the raw materials, but you pay again when you dispose of the waste. Do some research to see if you can exchange any of your processes for ones that do not produce expensive waste.

Establishing green policies will also help your bottom line. Your business will save money on waste removal, raw material costs, and office equipment and supplies. In addition, streamlining processes to reduce paperwork will improve your business's overall efficiency and productivity, not to mention enhancing goodwill.

Going green is good for business. The data and resources you need for improving your company's environmentally friendly status are widely available and, for the most part, will save your business money in the long run. And, making sound environmental decisions will enhance your company's image in the eyes of your customers.

About the Author-K. MacKillop, a serial entrepreneur, is founder of LaunchX and authors a small business startup blog. The LaunchX System is designed to help entrepreneurs start a business the right way. Visit LaunchX.com for a free workbook to help you choose a business idea.

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