Research continues to show that going green benefits companies in all industries. Adopting sustainable practices is a powerful driver of long-term efficiency. Sustainability is also in demand among consumers, with a McKinsey study showing that 66% of buyers consider the environmental impact of a purchase. Here are five simple ways entrepreneurs can leverage this global movement for cleaner living.
1. Automate Certain Business Processes
It seems counterintuitive, but automation technology can help companies become sustainable. It takes a lot of energy to train an algorithm, but that analytical power can be brought to bear on a range of efficiency issues. Analytical systems can help assess energy use. Digital tools can also virtualize infrastructure that would, otherwise, have a massive carbon footprint. Many business owners don’t know the vast number of options they have. Ask managers “what is a customer data platform,” and you might not get an answer. Research the plethora of automation opportunities available to streamline your operation.
2. Utilize Clean Energy
Adopting clean energy practices might be the most effective and efficient way to go green. Solar power has emerged as the go-to source of green energy. Solar energy now costs only around $0.08 per kilowatt-hour to produce, making it competitive with fossil fuels. Photovoltaic cells can be installed directly in your facilities. Alternatively, renewable energy is often available for purchase through a utility provider. The advantage of the former solution is that your infrastructure is no longer entirely dependent on the grid. Solar and wind energy both involve an initial outlay of resources to install, but they are virtually guaranteed to pay off in the form of a long-term investment. Shop around for solutions that fit the geography and needs of your buildings.
3. Purchase Energy Efficient Devices
Sustainability doesn’t just mean using cleaner energy. It also means using power more efficiently. Much of the energy a business uses goes into devices and appliances. The federal EnergyStar program exists as a clearinghouse of information for energy-efficient equipment. Companies can also become EnergyStar partners and show their commitment to environmental responsibility. That could be worthwhile, given that Pew Research found that around 69% of consumers consider sustainability in their purchasing decisions.
It could also be advantageous to conduct an energy audit of your buildings. These can either be performed by professionals or in a DIY fashion. HomeAdvisor estimated these audits as costing between $0.08 and $0.50 per square foot in a residential setting. Costs for an office audit vary. The bottom line is that knowing where energy leaks exist and fixing them can save money in the long run.
4. Invest in Electric Vehicles
Clean energy isn’t limited to your static physical infrastructure. Current high fuel costs should make the benefits of electric vehicles (EV) obvious. Corporations as diverse as FedEx, Hertz, and Best Buy are already making the switch. Advances in battery technology (such as graphene batteries) are emerging that will likely make electric vehicles more efficient over the next few years. Charging stations are the major logistical challenge for EVs these days. Thankfully, these stations more than doubled in number between 2015 and 2020. If your company has a vehicle fleet, consider upgrading to hybrid or electric vehicles sometime shortly.
5. Employ Biophilic Design Principles
The design of our infrastructure can alter its impact on the environment. Biophilic design emphasizes incorporating nature into the places where we work and live. NASA research shows that certain plants (like the spider plant) can filter toxic chemicals out of the air. Daylighting is another productivity aid. Exposure to daylight acts as a mood booster and limits lethargy. Even the positioning and architecture of a building can make a big difference in terms of efficiency and sustainability. These may seem like radical changes, but many biophilic design principles are simple and intuitive.
Making business sustainable isn’t just good for the planet. It’s a profitable decision. Keep up to date on the latest trends in green energy and match the latest advancements to your company’s needs.