Making Your Business More Energy Efficient
Commercial and institutional organizations operate under many configurations from schools, community halls and churches, to small restaurants and offices, to major malls and office complexes. No matter what size your enterprise there is a common series of steps that you can take to becoming more energy efficient.
Get People On Side
The first step, and one that will be vital throughout the process, is getting people on side. You need to find energy champions to support any further steps you will take, and while it is necessary to have management support, you will need supporters at all levels of your group. Look for people who already take action in their own lives both at home and at the workplace. People who recycle, turn out the lights and ride their bikes to work are a good place to start. These environmental leaders can form the core of your “green team”. This group can meet to help plan you future actions.
Do a Walkthrough
Once you’ve established a green team you can do a walk-through of your facility looking for low cost and easy to implement solutions such as recycling paper and reducing paper use, and turning off lights, computers, appliances and other equipment when not in use. Many professional energy auditors also offer preliminary walk-throughs to help identify areas of potential energy savings. Call for suggestions from staff via e-mail or newsletters, or have a contest rewarding the best ideas for energy savings.
Challenge People to Take Action
Choose one or more of the items identified and challenge people to take action. Again use e-mail, newsletters, contests, lunch and learns and staff meetings to let everyone know what your goals are. Have people fill out a contest entry which includes a promise to take action at staff meetings or lunch and learns. Social marketing research indicates that people who make a public commitment are far more likely to act. Make sure you establish a baseline and report results for comparison, so everyone knows what you are accomplishing. For example “the office reduced paper use by 50% compared with this time last month”. These results can help you show savings to managers, give employees a sense of accomplishment, and can be used to justify expenditures on future green initiatives that involve greater up-front costs.
Hire a Professional Energy Auditor
Once you have established support for going green, it is a good idea to get a baseline of current energy performance and a customized report on where you should focus your efforts to maximize savings. The major utility companies along with many engineering firms offer this service. Often the fees paid to these firms are recovered in short order through the energy savings identified.
Evaluate Your Success
Go back and see what else can be done. Does you company have a fleet of vehicles that can be replaced or better maintained? Can company drivers be trained to drive more efficiently? Can you make it easier for staff to cycle, carpool or take transit? Can new buildings be designed to meet higher green standards? The opportunities are endless!