Green Practices: Good for Nature - and Business

Green Practices: Good for Nature - and Business

Business owners who operate "green" offices do more than protect the environment - they save money on electricity, supplies and operations in general. There's the law to consider, too. Violation of clean air laws, pollution control laws, waste water quality laws and other regulations invoke stiff penalties.

With consistent application, a few simple measures can reduce your business's carbon footprint, help the budget and keep operations within regulatory parameters.

Use this checklist to get started:

  • Go digital. Invest in printers with built-in wireless networking so several workers can access to single machine. Consider digital invoicing to save paper and scan old files you must keep for electronic storage.
  • Lighting. Use CFL (compact fluorescent light bulbs), which save energy, and open blinds to take advantage of natural lighting. Switch off lights you aren't using.
  • Heating, air conditioning, utilities. Lowering the thermostat by one degree produces an annual savings of 5 to10 percent. Make sure your heating and cooling equipment is properly serviced, and ask your utility providers about services that cut costs.
  • Equipment, computers. Switch off all office equipment when leaving at the end of the day. Consider using laptop PCs instead of desktop towers and monitors for a dramatic energy savings. Buy Energy Star appliances such as PCs and servers, monitors, printers and multifunction devices, and external power adapters.
  • Recycling. Place bins near printers, copiers and in the break area to make recycling convenient for employees.

Green Practices: Good for Nature - and Business

Government agencies regulate a number of pollution-control situations. The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, establishes overall guidelines and standards for air pollution levels and controls. Currently, each of the 50 states manages and monitors compliance to those standards. Requirements for your area, as well as contact information for your state or area Pollution Control Agency is available on the EPA web site at www.epa.gov.

You also can contact the EPA Asbestos and Small Business Ombudsman via the EPA. These officials not only can help you understand air pollution guidelines, but they also provide information about asbestos removal, waste water treatment, chemical waste, solid waste or and any additional form of pollutant.

Other states provide general assistance to small businesses as well. Services may include permit assistance, on-site compliance assessment visits, confidential assistance on designing compliance strategies and plans, and guidance on new regulation.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov) is an excellent resource for locating federal and state agencies to help with your compliance issues and questions. The SBA provides a detailed online rundown of how to locate organizations with information on air pollution, environmental compliance and management, ecosystems, clean-up, environmental permits, pollution and chemicals, water, waste and many other subjects.

Environmental control specialists likewise can serve as consultants for your business either on an occasional or an ongoing basis. These firms will help you conduct testing, file required paperwork and reports, and implement changes to ensure compliance, both now and in the future.

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