Why you should become an environmentally friendly company

April 03, 2019

For small businesses, it's easy being green

Small businesses thrive on efficiency. That's always been true with respect to financial decisions and business processes, but it's become increasingly important in environmental terms as well. Environment-friendly companies enjoy a host of benefits while also making a positive impact on their communities. Going green may seem like a short-term trend, but growing environmental concerns and the broad success of green businesses in recent years suggest that most companies would do well to invest more time and effort into sustainability initiatives.

Leadership in sustainability drives business success

Environmental and social responsibility has become a deep concern for many people in recent years. Consumers are increasingly voting with their wallets, preferring to seek out goods and services from companies that they believe align with their values. In fact, nearly half of U.S. consumers make purchasing decisions at least partly based on environmental factors. Additionally, 66 percent of global consumers are willing to pay more for products from companies they believe are environmentally responsible.

Employees, too, often prefer to support sustainable, eco-friendly organizations. Going green in business has become a great way to attract and retain more top talent. Environmental concerns have become some of the most important considerations for prospective employees. Linking your business to these causes also engenders more excitement among employees and boosts engagement. Of course, embracing sustainability also serves as a powerful example for others to follow.

Saving green by going green

Going green in business also offers a number of more practical and tangible benefits. Perhaps the greatest payoff is in terms of reduced waste and improved efficiency. Whether it's cutting down on energy use or reducing material waste, a more efficient business is a more profitable one. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, some businesses can save up to 30 percent on utility costs alone simply by implementing a few free or low-cost measures. Greater investments often lead to even greater returns.

Environmental initiatives can pay off in other ways as well. Federal, state and local governments frequently offer tax incentives to encourage investment in green technologies. Completing energy-efficient renovations and making other upgrades to your facilities may also allow you to take deductions on your taxes. Energy-efficient properties also tend to have more favorable financing terms. For instance, facilities that bear the ENERGY STAR certification typically have lower interest rates by 30 to 35 basis points. According to some studies, a greener workplace can even boost employee productivity by up to 16 percent.

Ways of being an environmentally friendly company

The best news of all is that there are many ways of going green. Many of the simplest ways to boost your sustainability revolve around reducing unnecessary energy usage. Businesses are notorious energy-wasters, but cutting your consumption doesn't require a major effort. Considering that small businesses in the United States spend more than $60 billion each year on utility bills, there are abundant opportunities for savings. Here are a few convenient ways your business can save energy without incurring significant expenses:

• Replace all applicable lighting in your facilities with compact fluorescent light bulbs.
• Keep heating and cooling equipment well-maintained and change air filters regularly.
• Use programmable thermostats and occupant sensors to reduce energy waste.
• Regularly evaluate energy use to identify opportunities for improvement.

Another great way to commit to sustainability is to reduce your material waste. Paper is among the most common waste sources in the business world. You can reduce your environmental impact by seeking out paper products made only from postconsumer waste. These products are composed entirely of recycled paper and require substantially less energy and water to produce. Of course, your business should also make an effort to recycle as much waste as possible.

A more eco-friendly workforce

In addition to reducing the amount of waste your company produces, it's also important to ensure that your employees themselves are working in a sustainable way. One way to cultivate a more eco-friendly workforce is to encourage the use of alternative transportation. Offering small incentives to employees who choose public transportation, carpooling or biking is a great way to make an environmental impact by reducing the number of cars on the road each day.

It's also worth considering whether all of your employees even need to be physically present to perform their work. Along with improving work-life balance and leading to greater productivity on average, allowing employees to telecommute can drastically slash gas consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. As an example, the U.S. Patent Office runs a telework program for some of its employees and tracks the results. In 2017 alone, they found that allowing 6,438 employees to work from home four or five days per week saved more than $5.5 million in gas and reduced emissions by more than 37,500 tons per year.

Become an eco-friendly company

Making a positive impact and helping protect the environment for everyone is certainly its own reward. There are many other reasons to consider going green. Environment-friendly companies save money, have greater productivity, enjoy competitive advantages and set a positive example through their actions. With so many easy ways of going green, there's simply no reason not to adopt environmental responsibility as a core part of your business strategy.