Green Building: Funding Options for Renewable Energy Projects

Few business owners would argue that green building practices are ethically the right step and will prove to be cost effective in the coming years. However, funding a green building project up-front can prove to be a challenge for many entrepreneurs and small to mid-size companies.  energy-efficiency

Consider the following funding options for your green building project:

  1. Research grant opportunities.  Grants for green projects are available at both the state and federal levels.  The Department of Energy, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Veteran’s Affairs and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development branch make funds available to both business owners and homeowners. The Environmental Protection Agency also has a list of funding sources for homeowners, industry and non-profit organizations. Grants.gov and mrsc.org are additional grant-finding resources.
  2. Rebates from the local utility company.  Utility companies often offer rebates on energy conservation and green building projects.  There is also a host of rebate programs available through Xcel Energy that can defray costs for energy conservation efforts.
  1. Energy Efficient Mortgages.  If you are taking out a mortgage on your business property, ask about an energy improvement mortgage. This special lending arrangement allows you to borrow a larger amount of money to fund green improvements, without having to increase your down payment.
  2. Federal Tax Credits. Similar to homeowners, business owners can get tax credit for qualifying energy-saving purchases, including air conditioners, furnaces or construction materials. The Business Energy Investment Tax Credit, is the corporate tax credit enacted in 2013 and provides up to 30% tax rebate for solar and wind and PTC renewable technologies.
  3. State and Local Tax Credits.  States and local municipalities often provide incentives for business owners to build green. In Colorado there are many opportunities with the Governor’s Office of Energy Management as well as other organizations.

Don’t let cost of renewable energy prevent you from building green.  Investing in renewable energy will save your business money over time and leave less of an environmental footprint.

A Green Business Operations Can Start at Anytime or Age

“Did you know that each person [on the planet] throws out four and a half pounds of trash a day?” he told NBC 7 News. “Now multiply that by 3.8 billion people. How many pounds is that?”

These words were spoken by a 12 year-old by the name of Sam Klein, who started his own recycling business. He earns up to $200 for each box of ink cartridges he recycles and donates the proceeds to charities in his home town of St. Louis, Missouri.

This is one way to make a difference. Looking to create a green business operation is another. What can you do? There are very easy and simple options that are available. Here are some ideas;

Paper: Purchase 100% recycled paper for every day printing. Did all of those pages that were tossed need to be printed? Proofread those documents electronically before they are printed.

Re-use printer cartridges: Purchase recycled ink-jet and laser printer cartridges. There can be a sizable savings if your turn them in when purchasing new ones at certain office stores.

Lights: Are the lights turned off in rooms that are not being used? Merely turning off the lights when not in use (especially at night) can save a company between 10-15% of their utility bill. Consider adding stickers to the light switches to remind staff to turn off the lights or purchase sensor lights that will turn off automatically.

Energy: Save energy and turn off computers, monitors, and printers overnight. Assign one person each week that will check the office before leaving to make sure all equipment is turned off. This not only makes it happen but starts building accountability and responsibility among all the staff.

eco-officiency has an assessment tool developed in Excel that will help you explore all the areas where you can make your business a greener environment.

There is a good feeling that comes when employees know they are making a difference for the environment. By coming together in the office as a team, they develop a sense of accomplishment that you can be sure is shared with their families. This environmental effort just may carry over into their home life, if it did not exist there already.

Contact us and we will work with you to create a green environment for your business.

LED Lights: The Good and the Bad

More and more companies (as well as homes) are converting lights to the LED bulb (LED stands for Light Emitting Diode) for their benefits. These light bulbs offer similar light with substantially less power, saving between 50-90% of

lighting energy costs. LED’s are extremely durable and require very little maintenance once installed. Although expensive, they also last a very long time

up to 12-25 years depending on use and therefore are considered more cost-effective over the full life cycle of an LED. LED’s have also been touted as superior to CFL’s because they last longer, are more efficient and don’t contain mercury. If a CFL breaks and the mercury is exposed it is considered a hazardous waste issue.

However, LED’s aren’t all good and have waste challenges. They do contain lead, arsenic and a few other s

ubstances known to be dangerous. They are not a health hazard in a home or office encased, but if they do break it is important to treat them like hazardous waste. Currently LED’s can be disposed of in regular landfills and are not considered hazardous waste legally. However, because of the toxic contents it is strongly recommended when disposing of LED’s to treat them similar to hazardous waste. (To learn more visit E-magazine article, Dark Side of LED Light bulbs)

For more information on LED lighting visit these websites;

  • LED Lighting Facts: A program of the U.S. Department of Energy that provides information on LED products and performance rating.
  • LED’s Magazine: A magazine dedicated to LED lighting information.
  • LED Journal: Provides an online resource guide, a buyer’s guide, industry directory and other resources on LED lighting.
  • Energy Efficient Lighting: LED reference information provided by EarthEasy, a green product online retailer, which provides basic information for the consumer including an overview of benefits, terminology, and how to choose an LED.

Sustainability Training: Carbon Trust Empower Tool

A new sustainability training tool was launched in January 2012 by Carbon Trust called the ‘Carbon Trust Empower’ tool which can be downloaded by businesses free of charge.

This interactive application allows employees to take a virtual tour of a typical office building to learn how to make environmental improvements. Employees start off about considering how they get to work, then moving to their desk learning about turning off unused equipment, finally they can review options to avoid unnecessary travel. The tool will also create and keep track of individual personal action plans for employees.

If employees took all of their money-saving suggestions, the company could save annually $309 per employee. Some of the savings that they cite;

  • Turning off the computer and monitor in the evening could save $60 per year
  • Accepting a 1 degree temperate reduction could save $6 per person per year
  • Reduction of paper practices could save $31 per person per year