For Amber Rambo, president of A.G. Artisan Finishes of West Reading, Pa., going green in her painting and finishing business was an easy choice to make once she and her business partner heard about the possible health benefits.
"We've always been about trying to help people," she said. "This was much bigger."
Rambo co-owns the company with Gary Laity and their work has been featured on television shows like "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" on ABC and "Construction Intervention" on the Discovery Channel.
After Rambo attended a Feng Shui conference and learned how American Clay paint and plaster helps filter the air and dehumidify a room, she began using the environmentally safe brand in her business's work.
"It's a natural product," Rambo said. "That in itself has opened up so much business for us."
Businesses don't have to switch their business models like A.G. Artisan Finishes to help the environment. Even implementing simple steps can have a big impact.
By making small adjustments in the way a business is run, you too can turn your business into a green company and boost your bottom line at the same time.
Companies are required to hit environmental standards by law, but green businesses are those that go above and beyond what is required. To become a green business, a company pinpoints where it impacts the environment most and how it can change to reduce that impact.
A company can see myriad potential benefits of a company going green. Efficiency and streamlined operations save money with reduced costs for power, water and less trash hauling (which is a result of increasing recycling). Here are some small steps you can take in your workplace that will not only help the environment, but save you money:
1. Go as paperless as possible
Forward emails instead of printing them. Even taking measures like using both sides of paper to make copies and use single spacing rather than double spacing can have a huge impact. Mentor Graphics in Wilsonville, Ore. implemented a policy that all copies be double-sided unless specifically ordered as single-side copies. The company decreased its use of copy paper by 35 percent in one year–an estimated savings of $15,000 in paper costs, according to the Portland Office of Sustainable Development.
2. Buy green office products
Environmentally friends cleaning products, items that are made of recycled material and energy-saving light bulbs are all examples of easy things to incorporate into your office shopping list. Energy saving light bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than traditional bulbs and can last up to 10 times longer. Depending on the brand, recycled paper is about 10 to 20 percent cheaper than regular copy paper, said Focus.com.
3. Power down to conserve energy
The U.S. Small Business Administration estimated that businesses can cut utility costs between 10 to 30 percent a year without compromising service, quality or employee comfort. Other ways to conserve energy in the workplace include maintaining the HVAC systems and installing energy-efficient windows and lighting. Many of these improvements are eligible for SBA loans. If a company spends $10,000 a year on utility costs, the potential savings could be between $1,000 and $3,000.
4. Start a composting program
Restaurants in particular, can save money and reduce the amount of garbage generated by joining food composting programs, Rambo said. Instead of leftover food being thrown away, it gets turned over to the composting programs and the restaurants save money on the number of trash bins they have to pay to have hauled away.
Companies can also tap into the marketing power behind being a green company and tout their status to customers and potential clients. Customers have sought A.G. Artisan Finishes out simply because the company uses environmentally friendly products as much as possible in its work, Rambo says.
Companies looking to boost their bottom lines can also tap into trends that have global reach, says Glenn Croston. For example, as fuel gets more expensive, car sharing and ride sharing will increase, as will interest in hybrid or electric cars as alternatives to gas-guzzling vehicles.
Companies can implement car- and ride-sharing programs among their employees–offering incentives to those who join in–and boost their financials by inviting other companies to participate for a fee.
Even if it's in small steps, going beyond mandatory recycling can make a big impact on the environment and on your business's financials.
For more on how your business can go green, click here.
Linda Doell is a journalist with more than 20 years experience as a reporter, editor and blogger. She blogs via Contently.com.
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