Green Business Bureau green business
Going green is not a new concept within our government. They’ve been taking steps towards green for years; back in the 1970s, during the Carter administration, a solar water heating system was installed at the Whitehouse. Although the technology at the time was not able to produce the wanted results, those living in the Whitehouse did not give up on having the government lead in going green. With technology finally able to make environmental conservation a reality, the government is working to upgrade the nation’s Capitol to become a bright green beacon of inspiration.
A Green Whitehouse
After Carter’s failed attempt to heat water, the Clinton administration made environmental upgrades throughout the Whitehouse and was able to save over a million dollars in six years. George W. Bush continued the legacy of making the Whitehouse green by having several solar power systems installed. One was an upgraded version of the water heating system, and it successfully heated the pool and showers. Surprisingly, a several hundred year old building like the Whitehouse is actually environmentally conservative in its own nature because the thick walls and insulation helps retain heat.
The Obama’s moved in and have taken the previous small roof top garden and placed it front and center as a full scale garden, which produces ample fresh vegetables for the President’s kitchen staff. Research is continuing today to find additional ways to help the Whitehouse continue being green well into the future.
Capitol Hill Reaches for the Future
Ever since George Washington placed the first stone down for the Capitol Building, there has been one person in charge of maintaining all the land and buildings of the Capitol, the Architect of the Capitol (AOC). The AOC must find a balance between making changes for environmental conservation and protecting the Capitol’s structures. One part of going green that works for both objectives is eliminating carbon waste from power sources. The AOC is accomplishing this goal by buying wind powered electricity from an area utility. With the decision to use wind energy, the AOC has helped keep over 190,000 tons of carbon emissions out of the air, and off the nation’s landmarks.
Keep it Out of the Landfill
The AOC has been completely recycling all electronic devices for over four years. In 2008, the amount of non-office waste recycled saved over 700 tons of materials from going to landfills. Plans are currently in development to help recycle and reduce office waste up to the amount of non-office waste in the next few years. By having such success in recycling non-office materials today, the AOC is researching ways to include even more types of waste.
Let it Grow Green
To help remove some of the dependency on petroleum, the Capitol has switched to vegetable based fluids and away from oil based products. Not only is this good for the environment by using biodegradable material, but it is also good because vegetable based products are sustainable. This new hydraulic fluid is being utilized in several elevators around the Capitol. Most of the vehicle fleet has been replaced by vehicles that can use Ethanol 85 fuel, a vegetable based mixture. The Capitol’s boiler and furnace systems were also upgraded to use natural gas and bio-diesel mixtures.
Give it an Upgrade
Just as major appliances should be replaced in a home every 10 years, the AOC has a plan in place to replace several conditioning units and other major building appliances over the next few years. Replacing the decades old equipment with new modern units will help reduce electrical usage and will cool the buildings more effectively. Along with these upgrades, the AOC makes sure that greener products are used in maintaining and cleaning the precious landmark buildings, and their beautiful lawns.
Although we may never see a wind turbine farm on Capitol Hill or the Whitehouse lawn, plans are in the works to create energy by other means including geothermal, solar, and non-oil based products. The largest hurdle left for our government to tackle will be paper, or office waste products. As many have seen, tons of paper is still used to print out bills, proposals, and budgets. However, like the green beacon it is working to become, the government will hopefully continue in that direction and help eliminate that waste as well.
You are striving for green, right? At home you filter your tap water instead of buying bottled water, you compost your food scraps and you keep the house warm in the summer and cool in the winter. Certainly, you are doing your share and you feel good about it. But, well, maybe you think you would like to be a bit greener at work, but how can you do that? You don’t want to look like a green freak – or any type of freak for that matter. And, you don’t want to nag people about their own habits. Well, there are ways that you can be green without becoming the office nutcase, though we can’t promise that you will not ever raise an eyebrow or two. But, hey, a life worth living is a life that gets noticed! So, let’s take walk through a regular day on the job and see how you can do it with just a bit of green flair.
Start Your Day Right Start your day the green way be avoiding the temptation to stop for a high priced cup of coffee; that foam or paper cup isn’t going to do anyone any good. Of course, if you absolutely must start your day with some overpriced caffeine, bring your own reusable travel mug. Many coffee shops today are happy to fill your own mug with the coffee of your choice in their own efforts to help out Mother Earth.
Arrive on Time and in Style One of the least green parts of many days is the commute. So, try to cut your carbon footprint by walking or biking to work, if possible. If that is not an option, then take public transportation or at least carpool. If these are simply not possible, then at least consider leaving early for work to beat the morning rush hour. Tons of C02 is emitted into the air by cars stuck idling in traffic; beat the traffic and you will use less fuel.
Work Smart Once at work you can make a few simple adjustments to be just that much more green. First, try to get control of the lights or thermostat. Dimming the office lights a bit will save a lot of energy, which is good for the environment and the company. This may seem strange at first, but most people will find that a little less wattage on the overheads is actually more pleasant to work by. Encourage desk lamps for task lighting. Next, try to get your hands on the thermostat. If you can adjust the thermostat by just 2 or 3 degrees you can make a huge difference in energy use; simply encourage people to dress seasonally. Talk to your boss about installing an automatic thermostat so the office is not being heated or cooled when no one is there to need it.
Eat Smart When lunch rolls around be kind to your wallet and the Earth by packing your own lunch in a reusable bag, with reusable containers. Avoid disposable bags or plastic baggies, and avoid non-biodegradable carryout containers. Now, this next one is a bit of a push, but if you are really serious about things, take your lunch leftovers home to put in your compost bin. Yep, stick your uneaten carrots or apple core back in your bag and hike it home to dispose of responsibly. Be sure to bring a drink in a reusable, stainless steel or aluminum bottle as well, so you are not wasting single serving water or soda bottles.
Head Home and Continue the Green Cycle When your day at work is done, jump on your bike, bus or carpool and head home knowing that you have made some small changes that, when added up over 365 days of the year, can make a big impact. While no one person can save the planet, you are not alone. The more people take the time to care a little and make a bit of an effort towards green, the better off we will all be.
The idea of a zero waste to landfill program is more than just a recycling program. Zero waste to landfill encompasses every part of the manufacturing of the product, and activity at the plant producing the product is taken into consideration and the waste eliminated. From what happens to the metal left over in a stamping process to what happens to the food waste in the cafeteria. A zero waste to landfill factory is an environmental conservationist’s heaven. For corporations, a zero waste to landfill program equals efficiency at the factory, money saving techniques through energy conservation and reuse of materials. The less waste a company sends to the landfill equals a better profit margin. The zero waste community has begun to split into two separate levels: the purist who believes the product should be reused, and the modern believers who believe recycling the product is acceptable. The difference between the two is that recycling the product actually causes more waste of energy, water, and other resources. Whichever philosophy is followed the end result is a win-win for the environment and the reduction of waste products landing in our landfills.
More than just Recycling
A zero waste to landfill program is not a process that can be instituted over night. A corporation needs to take the time to do some dumpster-diving, so to speak, and find out what its waste consists of. Once the make-up of the waste is found, then an evaluation needs to be done to determine where the waste came from, and if a change in the manufacturing process can eliminate it. Even food waste from the cafeteria can be mostly eliminated by creating a composting program to use for fertilizing the landscaping. Other waste that can be recycled back into the production process, or recycled by other industries, can be eliminated by use of an on-site trash burning facility. This facility could utilize the heat from the trash burning to produce electricity of heat for part of the plant. Packaging from products can be redesigned to eliminate waste in cutouts, and made to be reused or easily recycled. After careful planning, many corporations have found that achieving a zero waste to landfill facility can be an attainable goal.
A Car Manufacturer Leads the Way
The Subaru plant in Indiana was one of the first facilities to go to a zero waste to landfill program. With the use of robotics in the production lines, they could become more precise in their stamping and trimming methods for parts. This simple reprogramming saved over 13,000 tons of scrap metal from being produced. The packing material for parts shipped from Japan is now shipped back to Japan to be reused again for new parts being shipped. By using an automated method, as opposed to a human hand, to add lubricating oil into the engine cylinders for assembly, they save over 650,000 gallons of oil in a year. Subaru boasts that they no longer send any manufacturing waste to the landfill, and have saved enough electricity to power a small community in for a year.
The process to become a zero waste to landfill facility can take a year, or two, to complete. There are several resources on the internet that help a corporation create a plan and goals to achieve their zero waste status. The Zero Waste Alliance, at www.zerowaste.org provides a comprehensive process to follow and ample resources to solve your recycling/reuse needs. As always the U.S. Environmental Agency has several proposals for helping reduce waste and even incorporates an Office of Strategic Environmental Management: Waste Minimization at www.epa.gov/epainnov/ strategicmgmt.htm . At the Container Recycling Institute, www.container-recycling.org , there is abundant information on ways to recycle any container, along with current legislation in the works. The Grass Roots Recycling, www.grrn.org holds annual conference to help familiarize people with steps to achieve zero waste.
Whether a corporation moves towards zero waste by themselves, or gets assistance through another resource, the decision needs to be made to go to a zero waste to landfill program now. The technology is available to make zero waste a reality, and the cost savings are apparent. Corporations should lead by example and show the world that the bottom line does not include only the profit margin. They should show future generations that the environment needs to be included in the business plan and the end result is less energy being wasted and resources being used wisely and responsibly.
Having an idea for a new business does not make it a success just by the mere service or product alone. There has to be a strategy behind opening the new business with a goal to reach. This strategy, or plan, needs to help the vision come into being, keep it sustained, and help it become successful. In the business world, this strategy is called a business plan. They can be as complicated, or as simple as it needs to be. For example, selling lemonade in the driveway sounds simple, but it still needs a plan. What are the supplies needed to make lemonade? Will you use plastic cups to sell it out of? What is the cost of making the lemonade, the cups, and signs? How much does each cup need to cost to make a profit? Are bio-degradable cups too expensive to be an option? Since you are selling a product out in the environment, what are the plans in case it is cold or raining? Again, these are not hard decisions to make for such a small business, but still a business plan needs to be formed to make the lemonade stand a success.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) at www.sba.gov there are several elements to a good business plan: executive summary, market analysis, company description, organization and management, marketing and sales management, service or product line, funding request, financials, and an appendix for additional information. A business plan should be reviewed on a quarterly basis and be flexible if changes are found to be needed.
Save the Best for Last
Even though the Summary is the most important part of the business plan, writing it should be saved until last. This statement will encompass what the entire plan for success will be. There should be a clear statement of your business, product, how you plan to sell and distribute items, number of staff, along with what direction the business will grow. Writing this after the details are completed will make writing the summary less daunting.
Where does the Green Come From
The most daunting task in a plan is the market analysis and financials, but the detail on this section will depend on whether funding needs to be obtained. If the funds have already been secured, then less work will be needed. If you are still trying to secure a loan, a detailed report will be necessary. Do your research and find out all the costs involved including the product, shipping, packaging, and marketing of your business. Never underestimate the power of the internet. If creating a website intimidates you, then add the cost of getting one professionally done.
Without organization and management planned out, there would be little chance of success for your business. It is rare to find a one man business, thus a clear chart for how the management will work in the business in needed. Be sure to have an organizational chart which shows each level of management, starting from the lowest employee up to president.
You Touch It, You Bought It
The service, or product line, section should give all the details of your service or product. List any copyrights and patents obtained, or in the process of obtaining. Be sure to include any research and development that will be planned. With environmental conservation looming large in society, including how green your product is from start to its recycling potential will give your plan an enormous boost.
As mentioned before, the level of financial analysis needed will be determined on whether funding will need to be secured still. The funding request section will be where all the detail is given for any potential loan or backer for your business. Complete details will need to be provided on what funding has been secured already, and where the rest of the funding will come from. Since this may involve a loan, a detailed plan for five years should be included with long term goals and plans. This is the chance to convince investors that your service or product will be a homerun and their monies will be handled responsibly.
Do Not be Afraid to Ask for Help
Thankfully, you do not have start this alone. At the SBA site, there are links on finding mentors to help with the development of the plan, and to help get the business of the ground. There are sections on how to obtain a loan and contractors to help you. On www.businessplans.org there are samples of successful business plans. Find one similar to your market and use it as a design tool. If thinking about all these steps seems daunting, there are software programs that can help with every step of the way. You cannot have a successful business plan if you do not ever start one.
Unfortunately, these difficult economic times have caused many companies to discontinue events such as company picnics and off site team building events. This is unfortunate because these events really do serve to build company moral by demonstrating the company’s commitment to and appreciation of their employees. Company outings can encourage employee interaction which can improve team dynamics, reduce stress and actually increase productivity once everyone is back to work.
In today’s stressful economy these social outings are a welcome way for employees to introduce the coworkers that they spend so much time with to their families who are so important to them. It is a time of bonding, relaxation and fun – valuable to everyone in and outside of work. And the great news is that your next employee outing can also be a green activity, providing an opportunity for you to help the environment, encourage responsible eco-friendly actions in your employees and their families, and perhaps even get a bit of good press out of the entire fun event. Following is a list of six tips for how to make your employee outing green:
In this case, we actually mean green – hold your location in a neighborhood park. Choose a location that is central to most employees to cut down on transportation costs. Encourage carpooling with a sign-up sheet for people who live further away to try and share rides, or arrange for a shuttle if you have a lot of people who you know come from a similar distance. Choosing a park can help you keep costs down as park pavilions are often free or quite inexpensive to rent. Choose one with adequate play equipment for the children and you may eliminate the need to rent expensive, energy hogging blow-up toys or other entertainment.
Inform your entire company about the event in a green way – through email. If you fear that not everyone has email, then hang up a limited number of signs in high traffic areas; avoid the environmentally irresponsible method of handing out hundreds of flyers.
3) Decorate in eco-friendly style.
Keep decorating to a minimum and avoid putting anything dated on your decorations, so you can reuse them next year. Stay basic, simply create signs that say, “Welcome”, “Welcome to Company ABC’s Party”, or “Have a great day”. These signs can be stored and reused so that you do not have to waste money or resources on new signs every time you hold an event. For paper products, spend a few dollars extra and go green. Visit GreenIrene, EcoProducts or other websites to find plates, cups, spoons, forks, etc. all made of sustainable, biodegradable materials. For serving platters, use hollowed out watermelons and other similar sustainable containers, or ask for volunteers to lend serving platters and other non-disposable items from home. Renting tents is another way to be eco-friendly.
4) Hand out green party favors.
Every party is more fun if everyone goes home with a free gift. But avoid the easy out of purchasing cheap plastic souvenirs or company hats that will never be worn again. One great giveaway is a reusable, recycled plastic water bottle or stainless steel bottles with your company logo or a simple “go green” logo on it. You can hand these out and use them right at the event – instead of going through a million plastic water bottles, have a couple of 5 gallon water coolers on hand at the event. Everyone can use their new refillable bottle for their drinks.
Once your event is planned to be amazing, put some press on it to let the community know that your company is dedicated to employee satisfaction and also keeping our Earth clean. Simply send out some electronic press releases to various websites, advertise on your green certification organization’s website and put the details on your own website.
6) Leave no trace.
Once your event is over hike out all your trash. After you are gone there should be no clue at the park that your group was ever there; as they say in the park business, “Take only photographs and leave only footprints.” Ensure that every streamer, napkin and cup is accounted for and disposed of properly. If you have used biodegradable table wear, ask for employee volunteers who have home compost bins to take them or find out if your local yard waste facility will accept them.
Join Our Free Webinar
“What Green Certification means for your Business”
Date: November 9th, 2011
Time: 11 AM CT
GBB’s newest free webinar helps you understand the basics of going green and green certification for small and medium sized businesses. This webinar is designed for all SMB’s either thinking of going green or are already on the green path. Register today!
Even if you can’t attend live, feel free to register anyway since all registrants will receive recording of the webinar via e-mail afterward.