Monday, 7 May 2012

Sustainable Business Owners. Part 1

As a business owner your main drive is to gain customers/clients and produce a healthy income. The cost of running a business can be quite high and finding ways to save money is always a priority. There are ways to save your business some extra dollars to put into other areas if you start to adopt a sustainable approach. 

Looking at your business from a sustainable angle does not mean you become a tree hugger, it just means you begin to sustain your business in a healthy way and on all levels. There are many areas that you can make some small to bigger changes and in the immediate to near future have a healthy business.

We will take you through the steps from easy and small changes to the more bigger changes. As an owner you have the authority to establish sustainable practices within your workplace. It can have a great impact on your working environment and the greater environment. 

In Australia the carbon tax comes into effect on July 1 2012, starting at $23 a tonne. To find out more visit here 

All the more reason to practice sustainability!

"If you are an employee keep reading, you could take this information to management and they could end up giving you a great big thank you and some recognition or maybe even a bonus"

The 3 Small Steps
We will begin with cutting high energy costs, with some practice it can save you a significant amount. You can reap the benefits whether you are a small business or a larger scale business and across most, if not all, industries.

Step 1. We will look at lights as they are, or can be, a large area of cost. These are some simple tips to reduce the use and cost of lights.
  • Swap lights to low watt energy efficient globes
  • Turn lights off when not in the room
  • Make sure all globes are kept clean and dust free
  • Take off lampshades to maximise light
  • Use natural light when you can by opening blinds or rearrange the set up of the room
  • Consider decorating with light coloured finishes and furnishings
  • Take one globe out of each light fitting- this will still leave enough light but reduce the energy cost of them by half. As long as the light quality is still at the national standards.  

Here is some detailed information on lighting and standards 
Savings you can make from swapping to energy efficient globes
Disposal of globes
Next we move onto other electrics that generate energy. Here is a business energy consumption chart, click on picture to see a larger view. 

  • Computers/Laptops
  • Televisions/DVD players
  • Phone & fax
  • Copier & printer
  • Projectors 
  • Electric white board
  • Kettle/hot water thermos or boiler
  • fridge
  • Drink dispensers
  • Heating and cooling
  • Ceiling and mobile fans 

Ways to reduce energy in these areas is to turn off when not in use or install timers that are set when business opens and close off overnight. Standby power still generates 2-3% energy.

Place "switch off" stickers next to lights and on computer screens to remind staff and customers. You can use post it notes or download switch off stickers- for a more formal look click on this link

If appliances break down look to purchase 4-5 star energy efficient ones, this will save you a great deal in the long run.
  • Set printers and computers for double sided print as default
Fridge care
Fridges can use a lot of energy. It is wise to make sure it runs efficiently by making sure all door seals function as intended, keep the back of them clean and dust free and position them out of direct sunlight and away from the wall (12 cm gap from wall to fridge)

Make sure to have the fridge set at the correct temperature- 3° for summer and 5° for winter 

Heating and cooling
Keep room temperature between 18-20° during winter and between 24-27° during summer- this reduces your heating and cooling use and cost. (use thermometers to test room temperature)  
Use clear comfort for windows that get morning sun and afternoon sun- helps keep out the heat during summer and also keeps heat in during winter.

Close doors to rooms that are not in use- keeps heating and cooling in areas most used. 

Draught stopper attached to bottom of front door and back or main doors- blocks draughts. Seal up any cracks or gaps around windows and doors.

Hot water
Use an insulated cover to keep the water boiler warmer longer- this reduces how hard the boiler has to work to generate heat.

Turn down hot water thermostat to 50°; the recommended temperature is 50°

Insulate hot water system and pipes- reduces running costs by using less energy to generate heat. 
Changes you can make cheaply   
Sign up to green power through your provider.  You can get a certain percentage for free! If you sign up for just 20% green power you can use their logo in your advertisements to display you are practicing sustainability. Can be a great image for your business.

Take time to understand energy rates and the effect the carbon tax will have on your business.

Step 2. Now we will look at water, making small changes here will also reduce your bills. These are some simple suggestions.
  • Fix aerators to taps- reduces water use by up to half
  • Fix dripping taps as soon as possible
  • Do a regular water leak test that you will find attached- prevents the high cost of a leak and the waste of water
  • Install a water tank to use for toilets, make sure you still have it hooked up to the main water supply for when the tank is empty
  • Install half flush toilet systems and encourage employees to use if already installed
  • Only do one load a day of dishes in the dishwasher or hand wash as you go
Important water leak test for mains and toilets
For a toilet leak test use coloured dye, place in the top of the water cistern and if any dye runs into the water without flushing (wait 5-10 mins) you have a toilet leak.

For a mains test follow this chart, click on picture to see a larger view.


Step 3. Last of all we look at waste, making changes here can save you money and even in some cases make you money.
  • Recycle office paper- reduces waste going to landfill
  • Use recyclable disposable cups and spoons or washable ones- reduces waste going to landfill
  • Can purchase second-hand items to implement changes- this is low cost and reduces waste through purchasing an item already in circulation
  • Dispose of broken appliances thoughtfully
  • Bring lunch from home in a reusable container or if you get take out think twice before getting a plastic carry bag, take your own eco friendly bag
  • Give reusable containers to a local food charity or schools and kindergartens to use for art and craft.
  • Start a compost from staff waste, you can give to local companies if you do not have a business garden. You could also sell your compost to local people for a small price. 
For information on starting a compost visit our compost blog 
OK as you can see these steps are basic and with practice can become second nature. Employees are more happy to work in an environmentally friendly workplace and also promote that you are a sustainable business. We should take care of out immediate nature as there is no second, this is all we have so let's make it a great one for our present and future generations.

Further information
Top ten sustainability tips for business
Sustainable business eBook 
If you wish to start to become a more sustainable business it is important to have the cooperation of all employees. Setting up systems to implement strategies and maintain them is vital to your progress.

Here is a brief article on the importance and setting up of systems
Make some changes and track if it saves you money by comparing your bills.  Use one from before you made the changes and compare it to a bill after you made the changes. For example a lower bill would mean a change has worked. Through keeping track of the bills, you may even be able to find faulty appliances that are running inefficiently and remove or replace them. 

Stay tuned 
In part 2 we will explain how making bigger changes can save money, grant information and green business accreditation.

Part 3 will be all about setting up a green team within your business, where employees are involved in assisting your business to be a sustainable one.

Thank You For Reading

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