Five Tips for Greening Your Business

By Chelsey Lucas March 31, 2014

Biz(941)’s April-May issue showcases three local businesses that are top performers in conserving energy, reducing waste and keeping the planet healthier while improving the bottom line.  Other local businesses can make these improvements as well, but with so many opportunities and so little time, it’s hard to know where to start. Lee Hayes Byron, the Sustainability Manager for Sarasota County, shows how easy it is to take advantage of local resources. For starters, attend the Chamber University: Tips to Green Your Business, April 22 at 8:30 a.m. at TPC Prestancia ($15 for members and $20 for nonmembers), and then try these five tips for greening your business.

1.    Find your champions:  If you canvas employees, you are bound to find someone with a passion for sustainability.  Empower these individuals to develop a Green Team, educate fellow employees and develop internal communications such as e-newsletters or bulletin board reminders.

2.    Start with the numbers:  You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Take the time to review your energy, water and fuel bills over the last year. Look for trends over time, between buildings and vehicles or spikes that might point to an equipment issue.  Take advantage of your utility’s online tracking services and the free ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool.  Then, focus on your biggest users.

3.    Engage on energy: On lighting, swap out incandescent bulbs for CFL or LED and install occupancy sensors.  Require computers and monitors to use energy settings and be shut down at the end of the day, unplug devices not in use and switch to multi-function copiers. Schedule a free FPL Business Energy Evaluation.   With high fuel costs, focus on your vehicle fleet too.  Driving behaviors and route decisions can really cost you.

4.    Look for the label: When making purchases, look for third-party certifications: ENERGY STAR, WaterSense, Green Seal, Forest Stewardship Council, EcoLogo and others.

5.    Waste not: Go paperless with scanning and email, print only double-sided, establish an office supply reuse cabinet, recycle everything possible and evaluate your waste contract to save money by reducing dumpster size.

Ready to get started?  The Sarasota County Green Business Partnership is a certification program, providing free technical support and marketing benefits.  The Manatee Chamber of Commerce has a similar program.  If you aren’t ready to go all the way to certification yet, you can start by reviewing the Sustainable Business Guide by Sarasota County.  It provides a menu of tangible first steps in eight categories of action, allowing a business to choose what is relevant and most valuable for them.

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