Going green is certainly “in” right now for all companies, including startups. The benefits of making your business more environmentally friendly are numerous: you can take advantage of tax credits, work towards some serious cost reductions, avoid polluting the environment, and win customer respect. Your startup can start being more environmentally conscious, and save money at the same time, by following these ten tips.
1. Take advantage of tax credits
The US government has implemented substantial tax credits for businesses that implement tangible changes to save energy. The Business Energy Investment Tax Credit can amount to a rebate up to 30% and can be taken for adopting solar, geothermal or wind energy.
The maximum rebate for the Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction is currently set at $1.80 per square foot. This includes upgrading things in a commercial building such as lighting, HVAC systems, windows, siding and roofs, and sealing off leakage points from ducts or by using caulking.
2. Switch to eco-Friendly lighting
This is one of the oldest, simplest and most recommended environmentally-conscious changes to make, but it is still effective.
LEDs can use up to 80% less energy than traditional incandescent and halogen bulbs. LED bulbs are more expensive, but they more than make up their cost in electricity savings and lifespan. The savings of replacing one hundred bulbs that run for an average of eight hours a day can easily be over a thousand dollars annually.
3. Buy used Or reusable items
It’s relatively easy to find used furniture for half the cost of new furniture or less, which can save your startup a lot of cash. Liquidation sales from other businesses that have gone under are a good source.
Sometimes buying used is not an option or you might not want to risk it. If that is the case, invest in good quality rather than cheap furniture. If you do, you won’t have to invest in new furniture as often, which keeps more furniture out of landfills or needing to be manufactured in the first place. Also, try to buy furniture made out of renewable resources, such as bamboo, which grows back very quickly.
4. Encourage telecommuting
Telecommuting is something employees love (it’s estimated that two-thirds of employees desire to work remotely) and it benefits employers too. Having employees telecommute on certain days decreases office energy costs – because no one is there, the lights and air conditioning don’t have to be on, for example.
Employees save money and time as well because they don’t have to commute, and productivity won’t suffer due to new technologies that make real-time collaboration and video conference calls a cinch. Encouraging telecommuting for just half of a typical workweek carries an average estimated savings of $11,000 per year.
5. Replace outdated electronics with energy-efficient ones
The first and easiest thing you can do is ensure devices, electronics and appliances are turned off at night. Using a power strip with an on and off switch might make this easier. You can also unplug them, but for practical reasons it might be best to only do so on holidays and weekends.
Always look for the official EnergyStar certification when buying new electronics or appliances, including everything from copiers and printers to refrigerators.
6. Promote health of your employees
By going green, your startup can even save money on healthcare costs. If your employees are healthier, you will also see increased productivity and less use of sick days. UCLA even confirmed in a recent study that employees at “green” companies show significantly more productivity.
Start by not having vending machines full of junk food. If you ever bring in meals for your employees, steer towards foods that are healthy and nutrient-rich. Hold weight loss challenges around the office or participate in various walks and runs in the community to both promote employee health and your business.
Another thing you can do is renovate the landscaping around your office, and plant more trees and bushes to provide clean oxygen for your employees. The EPA even offers businesses of any size the opportunity to join the Food Recovery Challenge, which challenges your business to cut down on food waste and promote sustainable food management.
7. Conserve water
Conserving water is fairly easy if you make some simple changes. For example, instead of providing bottled water, invest in a filtration and dispensing system that can be used by both employees and customers to save money and reduce the need for plastic bottles.
Install automatic sink sensors in bathrooms so faucets cannot be accidentally left on. Also, always make sure to check for any sort of plumbing leakage and get it fixed straight away: this can decrease water bills by about 10%.
8. Go paperless
There are a number of ways your startup can go paperless and see significant savings. E-mail invoices rather than send them in the post. Utilize cloud storage systems to digitize all of your documents and keep them in one place. This will allow all of your employees to have access to the same documents for better collaboration.
Digitizing files also means your business will require less space and you can downsize to save money. As an example of the kind of savings that are possible, Legacy Health Systems claimed $279,000 in savings by reducing paper consumption. When you do need actual paper, do what you can to print on recycled paper, print less, and print on both sides of a sheet.
9. Tap into your investment potential
Going green can even help your startup attract investors. For business expansion, investors are a must, and when they see a company actively working to reduce overhead costs and comply with environmentally sustainable standards, they are much more likely to be interested in a business knowing that it will increase their return on investment.
10. Power your office with alternative energy
Something as simple as installing a few solar panels on the roof can drastically decrease the energy costs at your office. Other options include geothermal, water and wind energy, though solar panels are generally the easiest and cheapest alternative energy available. Estimates of monthly cost savings for going solar are almost $1,500 for an average commercial property.
If your startup is still looking for ways to improve energy efficiency, consider an energy audit, where a certified professional comes in, observes the building and your employees, and offers advice for what else can be done.
There are many different ways to “go green” and save thousands of dollars annually as a result. Therefore, it is definitely in your startup’s best interests to start making these beneficial changes.