Starting a business takes a lot of effort, so it’s understandable that when asked about the environmental impact that their venture will have, plenty of budding entrepreneurs claim that they haven’t got the time or the energy to worry about sustainability.

While this is understandable, it’s a shame, because there are lots of things that any startup can do to curb the negative impact that their business has on the environment. With a little research and creativity, anyone can become an eco-friendly entrepreneur.

For those who need a little more convincing, it’s not just the environment that will benefit from any efforts made to go green. According to E.ON, most businesses could make energy savings of up to 20%, impacting significantly on their all-important bottom line. Also, being able to call yourself a “green business” is great for public relations. Emphasize the efforts you’re making to be environmentally friendly, and gain the favor and business of like-minded consumers.

So, in order to get started, take a look at these tips for implementing easy and efficient energy-saving ideas, and feel great about being a positive force in the fight to save our planet.

Lighting

Try and embrace natural lighting wherever possible, and think about things like proximity to windows when you’re laying out your workspace, wherever it may be. If you’re lucky enough to be building from scratch, why not utilize awesome technologies such as light tubes, to pipe brilliant, natural light into the building for free?

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“Light tubes,” sometimes known as “sun pipes,” or “light tunnels,” are a great way to illuminate an indoor space with natural lighting.

If this isn’t an option, or you’re going to be working somewhere that doesn’t enjoy hours of sunshine every day, then swapping normal high-energy bulbs with lower energy versions is also a great way to save energy. They last longer, use less than a quarter of the power required to light up a filament bulb, and are considerably cheaper to run, so will reduce your energy bills significantly.

Once you’re up and running, it’s also a good idea to encourage your staff to only use lights when necessary, turning them off when they leave meeting rooms for example. Another easy way to save is to use time switches and daylight sensors to reduce your energy consumption.

Heating and air conditioning

Did you know that the recommended temperature for offices and sedentary workers is 70 to 74°F?  If you’re running your heating any higher, it’s completely unnecessary. Remember, reducing room temperatures by just 1.8°F can cut your businesses fuel consumption by around 8 percent a year.

Energy efficient heating isn’t just about getting the temperature right, it’s also essential to make sure that the heating is only on when you need it. Typically, setting the heating to come on 15 minutes before the working day begins and to turn off half an hour before it ends will provide your office with just the right amount of heat—and remember to check that it’s set to turn off on the days when your building is unoccupied.

If heat loss is a problem, install thermal strips around doors and windows to reduce draughts, and fit automatic closures on doors, as up to 15% of the energy that’s lost from a building escapes through gaps in doors and windows. Also, fitting reflective strips or insulation behind radiators that are fixed to external walls can also help to reduce wasted energy by directing heat that would otherwise be wasted back into the room.

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Look for this energy start logo, which is placed on efficient appliances and products.

Conversely, most of these tips apply when it comes to air conditioning, too (things like getting the temperature right and only cooling areas you’re using). Other things that can help cool your workplace include installing solar or mesh-like window screens to intercept solar energy, and using fans to move cool air around.

Also, when you’re looking to purchase an air conditioning system, look for an Energy Star™ approved model, as qualified air conditioners are 10 percent more efficient, and qualified central units are about 15 percent more efficient.

Waste and recycling

In the average workplace, about 80 to 90 percent of solid waste is actually recyclable, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), so limiting the amount of waste that your business produces is a great way to be more eco-friendly. However, it’s important to remember that wherever you work, sustainability starts with your employees.

If you work in an office, ask staff to print only when absolutely necessary, and make sure that any extra copies or mistakes are recycled appropriately. And recycling, of course, is a big deal, it’s one of the most important ways your business can reduce the amount of pollution that it puts into the environment. Be sure to provide separate waste bins for your staff to use and label them appropriately so that things don’t get confused.

It’s not just standard items that can be saved from the landfill, either. Things like ink cartridges, computers, and other electronics can also be recycled. Check out Earth911 to discover some of the more unusual items that you can give a second chance.

Water

Every business will have different needs when it comes to water, but adopting a systematic approach to reducing wastage can cut your usage by up to 30%.

As water fittings in commercial buildings experience more frequent use than in dwellings, investing in water recycling schemes and water-saving technologies can pay off extremely quickly.

If you can, think about installing:

  •         Urinal controls or waterless urinals
  •         Efficient flush toilets
  •         Automatic or sensor taps

Also, it’s a good idea to maintain your plumbing so that any leaks or dripping taps are spotted and fixed quickly.

In addition to the things that you do inside, the space outside your place of work is important when it comes to saving water too. Think about sustainable landscaping when you’re planning any outdoor spaces, as even the smallest eco-friendly attempts in this area can go a long way.

Technology

Investing in energy efficient technology is another great way to save on energy use in the workplace, but for your efforts to be even more effective, ask your staff to switch off equipment when it’s not in use. For example, turn off things like computers, monitors, and photocopiers.

Remember even when it’s left on standby, electronic equipment is still consuming energy, so turn it off wherever possible. To give your employees a little extra encouragement, why not print out some of these posters from the Carbon Trust?

Car sharing

When you’re setting up a new business, it’s important to remember that it’s a lot easier to implement new ideas at the beginning than to change things later on down the line. Start as you mean to go on and help your employees set up a car sharing scheme that rewards those who share lifts or travel to work using green alternatives.

Takeaway

Before you set up your new business, you can estimate the energy that you’ll be using with this handy energy calculator.  As well as demonstrating the difference that a few small changes can have, it also offers further tips on easy ways to make savings, so is the perfect resource for green gurus to get started with.

Remember, to give your business the best chance at becoming and staying sustainable, energy awareness should become as much a part of the culture of your organization as safety, quality, and customer care. Run awareness campaigns, write an energy saving policy, and try and include energy efficient practices wherever you possibly can.

Sustainability is a big deal, so as well as the obvious benefits of going green, ensuring that your business is as eco-friendly as possible is a great way to future-proof it against any environmental legislation that might yet be put into place. Do your bit now, and make a real difference to the future of our planet.

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Brittany Klontz
Brittany Klontz

Britt Klontz is a Digital Content Strategist at Distilled, an online marketing company. Say “hi” and give her a shout @Britt_Klontz, she’s always up for having a conversation about digital marketing tactics and social networking in general.