It is always advisable to conduct a comprehensive audit to understand what sustainable options that would have high impact for your triple-bottom-line, however sometimes you just want to get started to enjoy the benefits of implementing sustainable options. To start with, you can consider doing projects that have a high probability of success or focus your efforts on projects that make good business sense i.e. good for the sustainability and profits of the company. This blog attempts to capture a few low hanging fruit sustainable options, especially for small & medium-size businesses that may be interested in implementing low-cost sustainable options to save money or time and material resources such as energy:
- Plan an energy efficiency project. Small businesses may not have the finances to conduct a comprehensive energy audit that requires capital intensive modifications but could start with a walk-through audit to visually inspect each of the energy-using systems. Ideally, a walk-through energy-audit will perform a preliminary analysis of energy use or consumption to obtain the energy trends and patterns while benchmarking with other similar facilities. Small businesses can also consider performing a benchmarking audit which is faster because of the use of online tools such as the EPA ENERGY STAR portfolio manager. This online tool which is created by the EPA is a great tool that can be used to measure and track energy and water consumption, as well as greenhouse gas emissions. This tool is free to use and it is recommended for users to benchmark the performance of one building or a whole portfolio of buildings in a secure onlineenvironment. It is easy to use and it can be used to manage the energy use of any building.
- Implement solar photovoltaics (PV) project: Most solar projects especially commercial solar projects can be capital intensive, but in most cases, companies don’t have to own the PV system using flexible financing mechanisms such as the power purchase agreement (PPAs) and leasing financing models that allow companies to buy solar power at slightly lower rates compared to utility rates. EnergySage which is an online solar marketplace is a great starting point that online users can be used to estimate their solar potential, savings and get financing for their solar energy projects. At EnergySageyou will also have access to multiple solar quotes from your local solar installers.
- Consider using recycled paper for your office:Buying recycled paper may not have a direct impact on your bottom-line, but the indirect benefit this practice has on sustainability can be considered a high impact. Green America has made estimates for the sustainability impact of how recycled paper can have on environment and climate. According to Green America, recycled paper use saves resources and reduces the paper industry’s impact on the planet. For instance, using 100 % recycled copy paper instead of 100% virgin fiber paper saves: 100% of the trees, 31% of the energy, 53% of the water, and produces 39% less solid waste. In case, you consider, recycled paper, Amazon sells several brands of recycled paper. For instance, this example of 100% post-consumer recycled printer and copier paper for everyday use is made in the USA from recycled food and beverage containers and other paper-based printed materials.
These are just a few examples of low hanging fruit sustainable options that can be implemented by small or medium-sized businesses. Learn more about greening your business here for more details. To learn more for instance about energy audits and the concept of sustainable business or sustainability, check out the following books on Amazon.
- Handbook of Energy Audits 9th Editionto learn more about energy auditing in buildings and industry. Topics include energy assessment and computer software, etc.
- A circular economy handbook to learn more how engaged businesses are now increasingly re-thinking product design, material choices, business models and supply chains, and adopting the principles of the circular economy.