Why Going Green Makes Good Business Sense
Financial Benefits of Environmental Responsibility
Up until approximately 6 months ago, I was of the impression that being conscious of the environment was strictly for the benefit of the environment itself, and that I would derive nothing from it; the ultimate beneficiary of any recycling/waste reduction would be future generations, and the greater effect of my efforts would occur long after I was gone.
Thanks to Dr. Anthony Watanabe and my work as the web developer for the Toronto Regional Green Building Festival website, I have come to the realization that there are reasons beyond the ecological benefits mentioned above.
In speaking with Anthony, I noticed that he uses the word "sustainability" and the phrase "sustainable growth" quite frequently when describing his business. He even went so far as to conceive the Sustainable Business Resource Centre (SBRC), a network of for-profit and not-for-profit businesses whose collective mission is to grow while maintaining a sense of social responsibility and ensuring that they use the minimal amount of environmental resources
It was in speaking to the owners of the other members at the SBRC launch party that I discovered the direct financial benefits of sustainable growth:
Lower energy/utility bills. By using energy-efficient appliances and renewable sources of energy (e.g. solar), consumption of energy resources decreases and, in turn, utility costs decrease.
Increased productivity. A cleaner office environment will keep employees happier and consequentially more productive.
Government rebates and incentives. Depending on where you live, there may be municipal, provincial/state-wide, or federal incentives designed to reward environmental responsibility.
For example, Natural Resources Canada offers an ongoing series of rebates and incentives for both homeowners and businesses.
Another site worth checking out if you're interested in rebates and incentives is http://incentivesandrebates.ca.
Lower costs on goods, both in the short and long term. Reduced use of goods and recycling provide an increased supply of goods as well as a decreased demand for said goods. Simple economic theory teaches us that this increased supply and/or decreased demand leads to lower costs for goods.
Ways To Go Green and Save Money
Some of these ways may seem obvious, but bear repeating in order to ensure that as many of us as possible are contributing to our own sustainable growth:
Purchase energy-efficient products for use in the office. Look for consumption ratings on products that make use of hydro and gas. Another positive sign that a product is energy efficient is the Energy Star logo.
Don't print/photocopy unless absolutely necessary. I've seen many people print non-necessary documents, web pages, and even personal pictures on the office printer and distribute them to friends and colleagues.
A good rule of thumb when it pertains to paperwork is, "if you don't need a permanent record of it, don't print it."
Turn off all electrical devices and adjust the thermostat to match the outside conditions when no one is in the office. If you don't want to adjust your thermostat manually, consider investing in an electronic programmable thermostat. These thermostats can be programmed within 10-15 minutes of installation and very rarely need to be adjusted.
Choose environmentally responsible companies for your commercial needs. Companies such as Diamond + Schmitt Architects Inc. that show a commitment toward sustainable growth will help ensure that your needs are met while making minimal use of natural resources.
Transmit mass-consumption documents electronically where and when possible. Besides being far less expensive to do so than to mail out said documents, paper use is also minimized.
Consider features for your fax line such as Call Screen and Privacy Guard. Companies such as Primus offer features for any phone line that will allow the owner of the line to filter out and eliminate needless and unnecessary calls.
In the case of a fax line, activating filtering features will allow you to block known mass fax senders from tying up your fax line, shortening the lifespan of your fax, and wasting ink and paper an on unsolicited commercial faxing. These features are typically minimal in cost (usually no more than $5.00 per feature per month) and can be considered a wise investment on the basis of avoiding unsolicited commercial materials alone.
These are just a few examples. If you examine your own business environment, you will likely find many other ways to contribute in a positive manner to both the environment and your company's bottom line.
Adam Senour is the owner of ADAM Web Design, a leading web design and development company in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.