Consider Renewable Energy for Your Small Business

solar-power-generatorWith the cost of fuel rising higher each year, many companies have started to look towards renewable energy to reduce expenses. However, many of the smaller enterprises are often lagging behind in adapting to greener energy resources because of the associated costs to invest in renewable energy.

Cheaper Than You Think

One of the most common let-offs for many small businesses when trying to switch to renewable energy sources is the purported high cost. Technological innovations in recent years have resulted in reduction of the cost of renewable energy systems. Also, more investment and partnership opportunities for small businesses. Clean Energy Collective, a community-owned solar program, is one of those organizations making renewable energy cost effective for small businesses.

Small businesses can buy wind energy to support renewable energy programs without the cost of building the infrastructure. There is also a host of rebate programs available through Xcel Energy that can defray costs for energy conservation efforts.

Choosing the Right Renewable Energy Systemwindturbines2

Of course, all of these would be useless if you don’t choose the right energy system for your particular needs. Here, knowing the kinds of renewable energy resources available in your given area will definitely help a lot in selecting the actual system. The Colorado Renewable Energy Society provides a clear and short overview of the types of energy resources available for small business enterprises.

Contact us and learn more on how you can effectively use renewable energy for your business needs.

Environmental Sustainability Resources for Small Businesses from EPA

An essential small business resource is the Small Business Environmental Home Page. Funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Asbestos and Small Business Ombudsman (ASBO), the Small Business Environmental Home Page was developed in 1996 and serves as a comprehensive directory of sustainable business information and environmental compliance specifically targeted to small businesses and assistance providers.SBA Resources

The collection of resources is extensive and organized per the following:

Environmental Compliance. Locate updates, publications, and factsheets regarding environmental compliance regulations and new rule implementation. This includes links to state specific regulations, timelines, and agencies.

Sector-Specific Compliance. Sponsored by the EPA, sector-specific, web-based National Compliance Assistance Centers were formed to assist regulated entities (e.g., combustion processes, automotive recycling, food processing, paints and coatings, printing, etc.) with issues and language unique to each industry. The Small Business Environmental Home Page links to each of these assistance centers.

Sustainability Resources. Find helpful portals to EPA-sponsored resources related to recycling, landscaping, energy use, pest control, waste management, refrigeration and AC, and more. Users may also identify grants, funding, and incentive opportunities for sustainable business practices. Links to state-specific agencies, guidelines, and opportunities are provided when possible.

Environmental References. Extensive assistance is provided in the form of a searchable database of EPA publications and factsheets, videos, website links, funding opportunities, and more.

Performance Measurement. Small business owners and assistance providers will also find guidelines for performance measurement for measuring compliance, including logic models.

Shared Information, Events, and Conferences. The website includes a searchable database of upcoming events and trainings. Access state and national newsletters and listserves. Identify national conference schedules, including the SBO/SBEAP National Conferences and Trainings.

Greener Printing Methods and Products for Small Businesses

Cartridge ChangingIn Office Depots 2012 Small Index Study, they found that 60% of small businesses want to green their ink and toner cartridges. Not only are printer and toner cartridges expensive for businesses, they have a high environmental cost. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over 350 million printer cartridges are thrown away each year, and each one takes over 450 years to decompose.  That’s a lot of cartridges filling up our landfills.

There are several ways to green up your printer usage.

  1. Recycle Used Cartridges: Recycling used printer cartridges is a popular way to save money and help save the environment. Many office supply stores will take back used cartridges and give you a store credit in return. Office Max and Staples both offer a $2 credit for each cartridge, which also saves you money on office supplies if you purchase from these businesses. There are also numerous toner cartridge recycling businesses popping up nationwide. In addition to the environmental benefits, recycled cartridges often cost half of what new cartridges do, offering savings to business owners.
  2. Use Soy Ink: Another option is to switch to soy ink, instead of the more common ink products, which are petroleum-based.  Soy ink has several benefits. It is made from soy oil, which comes from a renewable resource, while petroleum products are not. Soy ink is more biodegradable, degrading four  times faster than regular ink. Also, less soy ink is required for the same amount of printing, leading to few cartridges made and fewer cartridges thrown away.
  3. Consolidate Printing: A final option is printer consolidation. Consider removing desktop printers and fewer networked printers. This leads to less printing by your staff and fewer cartridges that need to be purchased. Educating your employees on the costs of managing paper is also beneficial for a company attempting to go green in the printing department.

If you would like to move to a paperless office, then contact us for more information.

Recommended Sustainability Resources for Colorado Small Businesses

Because Colorado continues to be a leader in small business implementation of environmentally-friendly business practices, our state has created an abundance of organizations and resources which can help guide a business in their sustainability plans.

CORE

CORE is dedicated to helping Colorado denverorganizations implement sustainability in their operations, products, and workforce development, focused on small and medium businesses. They have success stories that share sustainability best practices of businesses in the Colorado community.

Certifiably Green Denver

They can give free and confidential assistance with your environmental questions and concerns.  Because they work specifically with the small businesses of Denver, they can give you knowledgeable information to help with avoiding environmental liability specific to this area, while not sacrificing your profitability.

Denver Energy Challenge

You can find information regarding rebates and also find help with your energy-saving efforts.  You can even talk to an expert by phone Mon. thru Sat. (8:00AM to 6:00PM) at (720) 865-5520.  These are the people to talk to if you are preparing to do an “energy upgrade” as they will help you throughout the process.

Watts To Water

This water conservation program recognizes and awards small business for their water conservation efforts. All hotels and offices with over 5000 sq. ft. of space can participate with minimal effort, but the benefits to your business are great.

Denver Regional Council of Governments

This organization focuses on enabling telework as an alternative to commuting which will help our community reduce pollution, ease traffic congestion and create higher levels of employee satisfaction.  They can work with your company to help you implement a tele-commuting plan that can work in your situation.

The Colorado Carbon Fund

They have created the first, statewide, voluntary offset program in the U.S., with special attention paid to the GHG reduction projects in our state, which will mean verifiable and permanent carbon offsets.

Eco-officiency offers sustainability consulting services in Colorado and nationwide. We provide expert business advisors to assist organizations and individuals in becoming more sustainable in their work and personal lives.  Contact us to discover how we can help you today!

Small Businesses Profit from Sustainability

A report published by multiple entities offers insight into how small businesses can profit from sustainability.  Sustainability initiatives can be challenging when most small businesses don’t own their building or facilities nor manufacture their products. This report focuses on case studies from the United Kingdom, United States and Canada. It offers some best practices on sustainability that small businesses can employ immediately with little cost and high return.

Click here to download the free report, SME’s Set Their Sights on Sustainability.

Can Cloud Computing Help Global Warming?

That is what Rob Bernard, the chief environmental strategist for Microsoft, is projecting in his latest article in Sustainable Industries. Microsoft recently commissioned a study with Accenture to analyze the energy and greenhouse gas use for cloud-hosted systems such as Microsoft versus on their own hosted systems.

The study found that organizations could save energy and carbon by switching to the cloud. It found the smaller the organization, the larger the benefit.  The study predicted an effective carbon footprint reduction of up to 90 percent over using local servers for smaller organizations (less than 100 people). For large corporations, the predicted savings were typically 30 percent or more. This is a pretty remarkable carbon and energy savings for smaller businesses.

In addition, cloud computing services can generally save companies money. It ranges from 25-50% savings in your IT costs. PC Computing has a nice article, 13 Terrific Cloud Services for Small Businesses, which provides an overview of companies that offer cloud based computing for small companies.