When you’re running a company, profitability, morale, and brand image might be some of your biggest concerns, so things like environmental sustainability might take a backseat. However, prioritizing your energy efficiency could be one of your most important decisions as a business owner—both for your individual company and for the world as a whole.
Ways to Improve Energy Efficiency
So what do we mean by “energy efficient”? These are just some of the ways you can make your business more sustainable:
- Install better windows. If your office’s windows are more than a decade old, you could be losing heat and cold air through small cracks and structural inefficiencies. Today’s double-paned, treated windows can save you between 40 and 50 percent of your utility expenditures, since you’ll be using your heating and air conditioning less often. For a large office building, that could ultimately save you hundreds to thousands of dollars every year, and reduce your emissions by 40 to 50 percent as well.
- Use efficient heating and air conditioning. Speaking of heating and air conditioning, you can use more effective units, and take precautions to ensure your system works as efficiently as possible. Each year, efficiency technology takes another step forward, so if you haven’t upgraded your HVAC equipment in many years, switching out could result in a major leap forward in efficiency. You’ll also want a maintenance schedule that involves regular ductwork cleaning to keep your system running efficiently.
- Keep an eye on office temperatures. As a simple measure, you can adjust your office temperature above or below your target “comfort zone” to reduce the operating hours of your HVAC system. For example, in summer, you can set the temperature higher than usual, and in winter, you can set it lower than usual—even a difference of a degree or two, which your employees and clients won’t even notice, can result in energy savings (especially for a large building).
- Install solar panels. Depending on the size and nature of your business, solar panels are likely a net-positive investment option for you. To install an entire array could cost a few hundred thousand dollars, but you’ll earn much of that money back in tax incentives, and over the course of a decade or two, you’ll make everything else back thanks to your incoming free, clean energy. Obviously, this is also dependent on where you live and how many panels you install.
- Recycle everything you can. Recycling initiatives don’t take much to set up; simply placing recycling containers throughout the office can be enough to encourage your employees to recycle more. Recycling is a sustainable process that could save your company money—especially if you pair it with a paper-free initiative.
- Encourage carpooling and public transportation. If your employees drive to work, they’re spending extra money and producing more emissions than necessary. Encourage your employees to take part in a carpooling initiative, or raise awareness of public transportation. Either way, you’ll collectively reduce your reliance on fossil fuels, save money, and free up some extra time for your workers.
- Choose sustainable business partners. As a business owner, you get the final call in who you work with. If two prospective partners have similar offers, go with the partner who offers greater sustainability and higher energy efficiency. It rewards sustainability programs, and sets a higher standard for other businesses.
So why would you take the time and spend the money to become more energy efficient?
- Cost savings. Utility expenses can run into the thousands of dollars per month for office buildings. Investing in better equipment and energy efficiency practices can slash this, and over the long term, could save you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Brand image. Investing in energy efficiency also gives you publicity opportunities; people are more willing to buy from environmentally conscious brands, so show off some of the efforts you’ve taken.
- Our world is only going to become more energy efficient; investing in sustainable practices now sets you up for a smoother transition, and is more scalable over time.
- Finally, the actions you take will have a major influence on the actions of the businesses around you. Your competitors will need to keep up with you, and your partners may be inspired by your example. This makes your company the first domino in a potential wave of improved sustainability.
Together, America’s business owners can start to reduce our energy demands and restructure them in sustainable ways. Today, it’s about more than just the environment; it’s about remaining competitive and earning the public’s trust. If you don’t already have a sustainability initiative, now is the time to create one.
Currently, Larry writes for Entrepreneur, Social Media Week, CEOWORLD Magazine and the HuffingtonPost among others.