Happy Earth Day! Have you thought about what you can do to help the environment? It’s not just about protecting the earth. Many business owners don’t realize the benefits of being more green – from increasing employee moral, saving money on energy costs, improving the public image of your company, and importantly, it can protect your business from a legal perspective.
Below are 10 steps for becoming a green company. Remember, these are just guidelines, and it’s smart to find a business lawyer who specializes in environmental law to ensure that your business complies with environmental regulations.
1. Comply with Environmental Regulations
As a green business, you should practice what you preach. This means complying with all environmental regulations relevant to your business. Compliance not only protects the environment, it protects your business from fines and legal action from the government. Consult the Environment Regulations section of the Green Business Guide for more information.
2. Develop an Environmental Management Plan
Running a green business means creating an environmentally-friendly, energy efficient workplace. A sound environmental plan will help minimize your company’s eco-footprint, and encourage green business practices throughout your organization.
3. Build Green
If you are opening a business in a new or remodeled building, make sure you build green and install energy efficient heating and air conditioning systems, appliances, equipment and lighting. Consult the following resources for more information:
4. Buy Green Products
Consider buying green and environmentally friendly products that are
- Made from post-consumer, recycled materials
- Energy efficient rated products, such as ENERGY STAR®
- Renewable and recyclable
- Locally produced, such as food that is locally grown and organic
5. Adopt Energy Efficient Practices
Good energy management is good business. The prudent and conservative use of energy is one of the easiest and most cost effective steps you can take to cut costs, increase profitability, and create shareholder value. Given the potentially high returns and minimal risk, implementing energy efficiency practices is at the core of most business environmental management strategies.
- Conduct an Energy Audit. Whether you are opening a home based business or moving into an existing commercial building, having an energy audit conducted on your facility will help you quickly identify areas where you can save energy costs. See Managing Energy Efficiency Products for more information.
- Purchase ENERGY STAR appliances and office equipment.
- Provide energy saving tips to your employees.
- Look for green power and renewable energy sources.
- Visit the Small Business Guide to Energy Efficiency for more information.
6. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Wastes
Most businesses can save a substantial amount of money by reducing waste. In addition to lower removal costs, waste reduction measures help cut costs on raw materials, office supplies and equipment. Furthermore, by streamlining your operations to reduce waste, you may also be able to enhance your overall efficiency, productivity and public image.
Develop waste management procedures throughout your operations that includes:
- Use of post-consumer, recycled products
- Elimination of excessive product packaging materials
- Optimized use of paper products
- Participation in recycling programs, such as EPA’s WasteWise
- For more information visit the Waste Management Guide.
7. Conserve Water
The increased demand on our nation’s water supply is threatening human health and the environment. By implementing a water efficiency program, you can not only help conserve this precious resource, but cut your costs associated with buying, heating, treating and disposing of it.
- Have a water audit conducted at your facility by your local water agency.
- Conserve water using best available technology and water saving equipment utilities.
- Minimize discharges to sewer/wastewater.
- For more information visit the Water Conservation Guide.
8. Prevent Pollution
Every business generates waste. For some, it may be only waste paper or dirty water; for others, it may be hazardous or toxic wastes that require special handling and disposal.
Whatever the type or volume of waste your company generates, it is costing you money. You pay for what you use twice – once when you buy it and the second time when you throw it away. The bottom line is that preventing waste will save you money.
For resources to help you prevent pollution, visit the guide to Pollution Prevention.
9. Create a Green Marketing Strategy
If you are starting a green business, you need to market yourself as one. Adding “green” claims and eco-labels to your marketing strategy will enhance your brand image and secure your market share among the growing number of environmentally concerned consumers.
Visit the Green Marketing Guide for information on the legal aspects of green marketing and strategies for successful campaigns.
10. Join Industry Partnership and Stewardship Programs
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sponsors a wide variety of industry partnership and stewardship programs that aim to reduce the impact of industrial activities on the environment. These partnerships will help you build relationships with other green business owners in your industry, and build a brand that’s credible with your customers.