Three Common Hurdles to Greening your Business

Planning and implementing a sustainability program for your business is a lot harder than it may initially seem. There’s no shortage of little snares and pitfalls that can hinder your plans for environmental friendliness. Here are 3 of the most common hurdles small and medium sized businesses face when trying to implement sustainability efforts:

  1. Lack of Information: One of the most commonly cited issues with small and medium Hurdlesbusiness sustainability is lack of information. Employees may not have enough information on how to implement green programs, or may not be properly informed that such a program is in place to begin with. Trying to make heads or tails of local and federal incentives and subsidies also makes it hard to know exactly what the most efficient path to take may be. Make sure to plan research time to understand the benefits and challenges of various sustainability initiatives.
  2. Too Much too Tackle: Many small businesses attempt to tackle sustainability initiatives with too large a scope or scale. And while the enthusiasm is helpful, failing to get a project off the ground can be a big morale killer. Most importantly, especially with new project managers, the experience needed to implement larger and more complex plans isn’t there yet. Instead, businesses should focus on building a sustainable foundation of smaller, easier to implement initiatives that can be built on into larger programs in the future.
  3. Lack of Leadership Support: When switching to sustainable business practices, it is vital that leadership, both the CEO and the executive team, support the initiatives. If employees don’t see the leadership on board, they often will sidetrack the efforts. Leadership should support initiatives by talking about them in staff meetings and be a visual example to sustainability initiatives that require behavior change.

Implementing a successful sustainability program takes time and experience. eco-officiency helps business owners throughout Colorado and nationwide plan and implement sustainability initiatives and train and educate staff on the best ways to implement these new practices to both improve office sustainability.

Sustainability Resources for Small to Medium Sized Businesses in Denver/Boulder Colorado

Denver is leading the way for the denvernation in striving to become the “greenest” city in the country.  Greenprint, CORE, Alliance for Sustainable Colorado and many more sustainability groups have played a vital role in Denver being named recently as 5th Greenest City Overall by Siemens.

Each of these organizations offer a wealth of resources to support small and medium sized businesses in the Denver/ Boulder area including:

Certifiably Green Denver: An Environmental Business Assistance Program with Greenprint that assists Denver businesses in identify opportunities to reduce waste, energy, air pollution and water.

CORE Catalyst: A program sponsored by CORE that matches talented graduate students from our leading Colorado Universities to do sustainability assessment and recommendation plans.

Sustainability Calendar: Managed by the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, this calendar keeps track of all the Colorado sustainability events and activities.

Here are also some other ideas and initiatives to investigate in becoming a green business:

  • The Denver Energy Challenge will encourage energy efficiency investment in our state and help advance our energy independence through large scale upgrades.  They hope to have 1,200 businesses participating by May 2013.
  • A carbon calculator is a great way to find out how you can help lower the release of carbon dioxide into our air.  This tool will help you find ways that your business can save energy and money.
  • They challenge you to join the Energy Star® Change a Light Pledge by changing at least one regular light bulb to a compact fluorescent bulb.
  • You can also find links to LEED®-certified builders or Energy Star® builders who can help you with your design plans for your business or with additions to existing structures.
  • Of course, one of the simplest ways to make a real change with very little investment is to plant a tree!

At Officiency our mission is to support organizations and consumers in developing and implementing eco-friendly initiatives to reduce environmental impact, resource consumption and waste while maximizing efficiency within business and home environments.  We hope and strive to have Denver become the number one greenest city in North America!

Contact us and we can help you take small steps that will make a big impact.

Going Paperless Reduces Carbon Footprint

For most small and medium sized businesses reducing paper consumption can significantly reduce an organizations carbon footprint. If the US cut office paper use by just 10 percent it would eliminate 1.6 million tons of greenhouse gases which is the equivalent of taking 280,000 cars off the road for one year. According to reduce.org, the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year. Further paper statistics conclude that it takes an entire tree to generate 12,500 pieces paper, of which only 5% will ever be recycled.

As companies of all sizes realize the constraints that paper places on their businesses, they are exploring the many advantages offered by a paperless office, as identified in the article, Becoming a Paperless Office.

Even though the principles of a paperless company are beneficial, it can be challenging to leave behind a data format on which your business has always relied. Here are just a few easy tips that can start your business to reduce and recycle paper;

  • Use both sides of the paper. You can set your printer default to print both sides, make double-sided copies, and use the backs of single-sided documents that have served their purpose.
  • Think before you print. Double check print/copy properties before you print, only print the necessary pages, and share documents whenever possible.
  • Put forms, newsletters, articles and any other applicable documents online. Your management, employees and customers will have immediate access to what they need. 
  • Recycle, recycle, recycle. If your company does not yet have a recycling program, get one started. If you have one, make sure you employees know how to properly use it. Be sure to use post-consumer recycled paper whenever possible.

Going completely paperless is a commitment that will take your company time to fully implement. A first step is getting better organized electronically Then, start by improving overall automation of processes. As identified by the numbers, if every business made improvements it would make a significant impact to climate change.

Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Resources For Small and Medium Businesses In Colorado

Here in Colorado we take the business of sustainability very seriously. In every corner of the state the push is on to improve our businesses to increase energy efficiency and support green business operations. Here are some resources, programs, incentives and guides available online to assist small and medium sized businesses;

The Main Street Efficiency Initiative (MSEI) is a Colorado Energy Office (CEO) program that helps small business lower energy costs as well as their carbon footprint.

Recharge Colorado has a resource page that is specifically for small businesses seeking information for energy efficiency, water efficiency and renewable energy projects in Colorado.

The Energy Efficiency Guide for Colorado Businesses will help you find ways for your company to save energy.  Their recommendations are sorted by sector that provides specific suggestions depending on the type of business.

Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) has a website full of valuable information and tools for small businesses.

CORE, the sustainable business association for Colorado also has a separate page for resources that include articles, business success stories and downloadable reports.

And of course, we at eco-officiency provide a wealth of resources for businesses to become greener in their operations.

Contact us if we can help you find the answers you are looking for when it comes to finding resources and information to help green your business.

Sustainability Assessment Tools- Small to Medium Sized Businesses

Some organizations want to conduct their own sustainability assessments. If so, here are some assessment tools and resources;

 

eco-officiency: Developed in Excel, this sustainability assessment tool has over 360 questions customized for each primary area and department of an organization. Departments include Administration, HR, IT, Facilities and Operations, Marketing and Communications, Purchasing, Finance, Accounting, Product and Research/Development, Events and Conferences. Organizations can have departments answer the questions themselves or it can be conducted at a management meeting. The cost to download this sustainability assessment is $75.

Three Steps to Eco-Efficiency, Canada: This assessment tool was developed by the Ministry of Environment of Canada to assist small and medium-sized manufacturers to develop an eco-efficiency program that is custom tailored to their business needs. The tool is a free download.

Earth Charter: This assessment is a free download available from Earth Charter International. The assessment is designed to improve practices based on the Earth Charter principles.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Measuring Impact Framework: The WBCSD developed a framework to assess the contribution of business to the economic and broader development goals in the societies where business operates. It is designed to help companies understand their contribution to society and use this understanding to inform their operational and long-term investment decisions, and have better-informed conversations with stakeholders.

The International Society of Sustainability Professionals released in 2010 a consolidated list of Sustainability Assessments. For members it is a free download and for non-members there is a fee to download.