26 Green Business Initiatives: Cutting Costs and Carbon emissions
14 May, 2012
Picture taken by M.O. Stevens
With the new Carbon Tax soon to be introduced, Australian businesses will need to implement effective ways to cut down on carbon emissions. No matter what business you’re involved in; you’re going to be impacted. Electricity prices are going to increase, fuel prices are going to keep going up. It’s time to implement changes that will save you money in the long term and ensure you gain a competitive advantage over the business that didn’t take action.
Below is a list of 26 ways to reduce waste, cut costs and invest for long term savings. Many of these tips can be implemented at work and at home.
- Change your current lighting to LED’s; they are more expensive compared to other lighting solutions but they reduce power usage by as much as 80%. LED lights also last for up to 10 years so this means less replacement costs, reduced labor for changing lighting and increased employee safety (workers have to change lighting less often reducing risk of injury). They can now be purchased in almost any size or type of light fitting, including circle down lights and standard light globes.
- Install sky lights – Utilise free light from outside. Thermal glass used in sky lights can help maintain climate control. Sky lights are great for warehousing applications where tow tugs, forklifts or general equipment travels from inside to outside; and often operator’s eyes become obscured by the changing light conditions. With sky lights installed operator visibility will be improved, while also reducing power costs & improving workplace safety & productivity.
- Cool roof technologies are highly beneficial for warehouses with refrigeration storage; depending on your climate. Cool roofs reflect sun instead of absorbing heat; reducing warehousing temperatures. These roofs increase energy efficiency in the workplace; reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Reduce business travel. Businesses often hold meetings in multiple countries or states; meaning a lot of air travel, hotel costs and food expenses. This can leave a large carbon footprint for the business and can be quite costly. Although some business travel may be necessary; businesses can reduce it by using web conferencing where possible; instead holding virtual meetings via the internet.
- Install power shut down switches. These devices will allow all power to be switched off to office/ warehousing spaces, apart from equipment requiring power such as refrigerators. This can save large amounts of power per year with machinery, computers and photocopiers normally using power when they are not in use.
- Installing Solar panels on business sites such as offices, factories or warehouses makes even more practical sense than on housing; with most businesses remaining in a set location for long term periods of 20-30+ years you can ensure you get strong return on your investment. State Logistics Services installed over 1,000 solar panels on their roofs which generates about 560,000 kilowatts of power annually; equivalent to providing electricity to 51 homes year after year.
- Install wind turbines. These wind turbines which work by the movement of the blades spinning, give power to a generator which creates energy which is then converted into electricity that can be used in the workplace. This energy source can be relied on in the long-term creating cost-effective and pollution free energy.
- Install solar water heaters. Solar water heaters use the suns natural energy to heat water. There are a few main types of water solar heaters; such as: ICS or batch collectors, Flat plate collectors, Unglazed or formed collectors and Evacuated tube collectors.
- Installing Green Roofing (or “living roofs”) covered with vegetation and soil. Green roofs have many environmental and energy-efficiency benefits, helping reduce urban air temperatures and providing building insulation. A green room is beneficial by insulating a building from heat loss in winter and from heat gain in summer. Additionally they can reduce rainwater run-off by up to 50%; preventing flooding and additionally beneficial to health by filtering pollutants and carbon dioxide from the air; lowering disease rates.
- Change transportation to battery/electric options. Lower fuel consumption Hybrid or electric corporate cars, vans and trucks can create significant savings. The initial investment for battery/ electric is often higher, but the lower ongoing cost will mean significant savings in the long run.
- Clean air filters in vehicles. A clean air filter can improve fuel consumption by up to 7%. By creating a policy that air filters must be changed every 4 months or less in vehicles, you can make significant savings in fuel consumption.
- Employ battery electric forklifts & other equipment. Battery electric forklifts have lower ongoing running costs; they also have significantly lower emissions because main power plant emits less carbon/fuel than LPG or Diesel forklifts. Don’t stop there; employing battery electric machinery such as cranes, power tools and heaters can also make a large difference. If you are looking for a battery electric forklift check out Hyster’s Electric range
- Add a sleep mode to all equipment. By running conveyors and other equipment at full capacity during breaks and lower usage periods your business is wasting precious energy costing them more in electricity and additionally causing their equipment to be worn out at a faster rate.
- Install rain tanks for rain capture and use it for watering gardens, cleaning bays and even staff toilets. Stainless steel is the longest lasting material for rain tanks and can last up to 40+ years; they are the most expensive but will ensure the best return on investment if you’re expecting to stay on the same site for a long period of time (20+ years).
- Employ thermal heat storage. Thermal heat storage is used to help reduce fluctuations in temperature, if you have the space it can be a cost effective system for maintaining consistent temperatures. One of the most effective systems for thermal heat storage is the use of water tanks, but there are a number of different materials that will work well. An effective setup is water tanks located under Skylights that capture heat during the day and then disperse heat at night, keeping temperatures higher. Ideal for night shift workers and other applications.
- Add trees and ferns inside your warehouse. Trees are effective at controlling humidity and cleaning the air, although this will not directly cost cut; the end result is happier workers with improved productivity. The manufacturing plant at Ferrari uses both skylights and trees within the plant which help improve the factories humidity creating the perfect environment for engine manufacturing.
- Implement recycling: organise for different waste to be delivered to different recycling programs, such as tyres, oils, saw dust, batteries and scrap metal. Once different waste items are separated they become more valuable and hence you can get paid for removing them or at least free removal of the waste; saving you money and reducing land fill.
- Set your printers to print double sided as default. Force staff members to evaluate whether they need to print single sided or if they can save paper with double sided printing.
- Replace old refrigerators and ensure damaged seals are always replaced. A high energy star refrigerator can save up to 30% power compared to older units. So it may be worthwhile investing in a new model.
- Replace thermal fax machines with inkjet units. Thermal paper costs more over the long term to run compared to plain paper.
- Employ a cartridge refill service to replace ink in the office instead of buying new cartridges. This will both save money and reduce waste.
- Install double glazed windows for the office and factory, which reduces cooling and heating bills. Additionally these double glazed windows offer more stability and safety; and eliminate the formation of black mold with their tight seals.
- Install power and water meters. For the most efficient use of these meters; place them in a high traffic area for employees to pass them often and take more notice. Making staff more aware of their cost & consumption may motivate them to be more efficient in their energy and water use.
- Add motion sensor lights to bath rooms, store rooms and areas that are not used continually to ensure electricity will not be wasted as these auto lights allow for light to be automatically turned off when the area or room is not in use. These savings all add up and can be significant.
- Install timed water taps to reduce water usage, and stop taps being left on accidently. The constant rising of water costs makes this small implementation very worthwhile for the businesses.
- Record printing costs. By adding software to workplace computers which displays their printing balance on the screen, staff are made more aware of their usage. By making employees more aware they are more likely to change their printing habits; printing only when necessary and overall reducing printing costs.
Reducing carbon emissions isn’t just good for the environment, it is also smart business, as reducing waste can also help you reduce costs and save. What other green business initiatives can you think off? We would love to hear your ideas, so comment below.
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