Sustainability in business has many benefits, one of them being decreased costs. This article is part of a series to discuss the benefits of what happens when organizations work with sustainability in their core operations
Operating a business can be expensive, and turning a profit isn’t always easy. This is especially true if you’re only focused on the sales of your products and/or services and not on the bills that you are paying. In this section of Working with Sustainability, you’ll find many of the practices to be common sense, and you may already be doing them without even thinking of sustainability. However, once the whole picture is captured, more savings on the back end will help with the bottom line.
First, there are the beginner steps. These include simple reduction techniques, such as turning off lights when they’re not needed, making sure all light bulbs are high efficiency, and keeping the office at the right temperature to not waste heat or air conditioning. Many locations can even benefit from installing timed thermostats, so as to decrease use of heat or air conditioning while people aren’t in the office. The U.S. Department of Energy identifies that homes and commercial buildings consume 40% of the energy used in the United States, with anywhere between 10%-20% of the annual energy bill going being wasted because of poor insulation, outdated systems, and drafts.
Additional beginner steps, which can bring in big savings depending on how much they are used, is done through a technique called nudging (read about it here). This is effective in an office setting by simply updating some of your office settings. One example is by switching the default on your printers to always print double-sided. Another is to set all computers to sleep or airplane mode if not use within five minutes. Place motion detection light switches so lights automatically turn off if people have left the room. If you don’t have dual flushing toilets, use a Water Hippo to reduce water consumption and your water bills.
Steps beyond the basics are to include adding a sustainability filter into your organizations procurement policy. This will ensure the purchase of energy efficient appliances (including computers and company cell phones), and even office leasing practices to ensure future locations or expansions are more sustainable.
Another way of reducing costs, beyond reduction or overall practices in your office, include turning waste into a resource. One example is General Motors, who reuses or recycles 90% of its manufacturing waste. One way this is done is by selling leftover steel from its manufacturing sites to a local steel fabricator. They’ve become so good at it, they have even created a zero-waste blueprint to show others how to reduce waste, too.
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