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GREENING YOUR BUSINESS

All the following tips have proven to reduce operating costs.  Every business association now has green standards.

FUEL

The less environmentally damaging fuel sources are solar, wind, and hydroelectric; and many businesses are installing new greener tools.  Tap geothermal heat.  Manufacturers even burn oat hulls as fuel - they create ethanol by distilling waste beer.

But most financial and ecological energy benefits come from reduced fuel use.  Small businesses can easily cut fuel bills by 20% or more by turning off lights, computers, and other equipment when not in use; and by turning down thermostats and switching off the heating on holidays, weekends, and after closing at night.

When replacing computers, motors, and appliances that can't be repaired, new equipment should be Energy Star rated.  Computers are rated by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool.   Compact fluorescent light bulbs provide quick returns on the investment.  A company-wide energy audit is easily worth the money.

Your office building sets the stage for profit or loss.  Reflective roof coatings help cool passively, without having to use air conditioning.  Superwindows and superinsulation can reduce heating/cooling expenses by 80%.  A large fuel-cell power unit will let you sell power to the grid.  Likewise, "regenerative drive" elevators send electricity to the grid.  Locate in a "green incubator" with other businesses.

PAPER/WOOD

Slice paper use by relying on E-mail for memos and document store.  Buy printers that print on both sides - see GreenerPrinter.com - and print only the necessary pages.  Collect reusable paper beside printers and fax machines - and don't forget to recycle the paper.

Stock 100% chlorine-free post-consumer recycled.  Better still, use tree-free paper made from kenaf or hemp.  Use a union printshop with recycled paper and soy ink.

Nix paper towels - wipe washed hands on pants or skirt.  Body heat dries clothes fast, and use reusable cloth for cleanups.

Junk mail can cost thousands of dollars yearly to sort and dispose.  Unsuscribe former employees via EcoLogical Mail Coalition.  When registering at conferences, give no address.  When an address is required, give 555 Five St.

Choose suppliers who reuse their packaging.  Redesigned packages can reduce paperboard use.

Don't use wood from endangered forest species:  Certified Forest Products Council

Use less wood; structural insulation panels cut wood demand 40%.  Use alternatives to wood like bamboo and strawboard that are formaldehyde free.  Damaged boards can be chipped into mulch rather than dumped.

TRANSPORTATION

Reward staff who commute by train, bus, or bike; provide showers, bike sheds, and SEPTA passes.  Form carpools and reward carpoolers.  Buy hybrid vehicles and give rebates to employees who buy hybrids.  When travel is essential, rely on the Green Hotel Association.  Locate satellite offices on transit routes.  Close the office and telecommute to save real-estate costs and increase productivity.

Who hauls your freight?  New diesel locomotives cut fuel usage by 5% and emissions by 40%.  There are also now diesel-hybrid 18 wheelers.

WATER

Fix faucet and toilet leaks.  Install faucet aerators, low-flow toilets, and shower heads with flow restrictors, water-saving laundry.  Collect rainwater on the roof, send it to a tank in the basement, filter it, then pipe it up for laundry and toilet.  Install waterless urinals and compost toilets.  Reuse greywater.  Recirculate water in cooling towers.  Install time-of-use water meters.

Instead of hosing, sweep.  Reduce fleet washing.  Let hotel customers request clean towels and linens.  Use biodegradable detergents.  Never pour oil or grease down the drain; remove fat, oil, and grease from pots and pans before washing.

Manage stormwater by planting layers of vegetation along the street; low-water use plants, larger trees, green roofs and green wals, pervious paving and rubber sidewalks.  Use drip irrigation with moisture sensors to reduce excess watering.

REDUCE/REUSE

Eliminate disposable dishes, napkins, cups, and silverware.  Plastic containers made of corn or sugar cane biodegrade in months, while plastic ones remain thousands of years.  Build a green kitchen.

Donate surplus food legally.  Perishables past the "sell by" (or "best if used by") date are fine, but not foods past the "use by" date (unless frozen).  Other foods not donated include home-prepared (except baked goods); vacuum-packed or pickled; soiled, dented, opened, or rusty containers; unpasteurized milk; "off" odor; and temperature-abused.

Repair or donate office furniture and other equipment rather than recycling them.  Repair buildings (adaptive reuse) rather than demolishing and rebuilding, or just building elsewhere.

Use recycled polyester and rubber (PVC-free recycled rubber floors), organic cotton, from as locally as possible.  Buy equipment that can be returned to manufacturers and whose carbon impact is declared.  Buy "cradle-to-cradle" goods that can be disassembled for recycling.  Cut bottle size by condensing liquid.  Donate off-cut carpeting to playgroups.

Green building design, construction, rehab, operation, and maintenance reduce fuel and maintenance costs, while strengthening property value.

Deconstruct buildings rather than trashing them; construction and demolition (C&D) waste is 40% of municipal waste.  Require deconstruction in bid package.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) sets building standards for concrete, masonry, wood, plastics, thermal and moisture protection, carpets, doors, windows, equipment, furnishings, conveyors, mechanical, and electrical supplies.

There are now environmental standards for every profession.  Green dentistry uses non-toxic products, reducing waste of water, materials, and fuel.  Green chemistry reduces or eliminates the use of toxins, minimizing danger and maximizing efficiency; prevents waste; uses renewable feedstock and catalists; avoids derivatives; and uses safer solvents, even water.

RECYCLE

Everything can recycled to create green collar jobs and retain wealth; cement foundations into aggregate for new foundations, old wallboard into new, computers and electronics, fluorescent lamps and ballasts, even food waste and cell phone batteries.  Material exchanges reduce industrial feedstock prices.

BIGGER PICTURE

Researchs upplier records on green issues.  Evaluate their raw material sources, labor records, and investments - see the Corporate Social Responsibility Green Data Center.  Form an evironmental committee or hire a corporate ecologist to keep on top of these distinctions, opportunities, and trends.

Begin with Fair Trade coffee, buy locally-made greener products and hire locals.

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