With Our Economy in the Red, Green is the New Black

Nearly every business seems to have turned “green.” and it’s easy to be skeptical of the altruistic claims that always follow. If a business is serious about green, however, not just claiming “green” as a marketing strategy, there is a quieter green strategy that can reduce our impact on the environment as well as assist in the recovery of a bottom-line issue for any business: management of utility costs.

Currently, there are more than 5 million professional buildings in the United States, consuming 40 percent of the total energy in the country. This amounts to $100 billion spent annually to power the U.S. office environment. This cost of doing business is not a fixed amount; there are both small and large actions that can be taken by any company to reclaim a percentage of this overhead expense. And even a small percentage of $100 billion could be a large fortune. Here are some ideas that can help your organization start reclaiming its share:

Gain awareness. Clear, accurate reporting is crucial to every successful business plan. Demand the same understanding of your overhead expenses as you would of any service area or marketing campaign.

  • Collect historical data, and create baselines of your previous utility use.
  • Track and trend the current data against previous patterns.
  • Understand the utility bills so you can react to the inevitable inconsistencies in both costs and consumption amounts.
  • Set benchmarks to solidify your energy goals.

Get the low-hanging fruit. Some energy solutions are complicated. These are not.

  • Replace any old lighting with new compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs.
  • Window treatments will help deflect solar heat in the warmer months, lessening the strain on the air conditioning system.
  • Install occupancy sensors on the lighting system.
  • Install low-flow plumbing fixtures.

Establish involvement from the users.

  • Let the users know what is being done and what the benefits are.
  • Encourage participation. Let them know what they can do to help, such as turning off computers and lights when they leave, unplugging chargers and other gadgets, and becoming vigilant and responsible energy users.

Seek an energy study.

  • If you want to see changes on a larger scale, bring in an energy management team or engineering firm so you can identify greater tracking and response methods and optimize the performance of your building.
  • If you are a client of Georgia Power, contact your account representative for more information on receiving a free energy audit.

Minimizing energy use is as good for the earth as it is for business. By redirecting green initiatives inward, businesses can move beyond marketing trends and truly start minimizing their impact on the environment. Green initiatives that make business sense—without the need for a public campaign—can succeed in any economic climate and truly act in the best interest of the business and our environment.

Michael Rouse,
Draper and Associates