Green is good — and, it’s here to stay.
By adopting green strategies, you can both maximize the environmental performance of your facility and reap economic rewards.
The potential benefits are considerable, including:
Improved air and water quality, reductions in waste streams, conservation of resources and protection of biodiversity and ecosystems.
Reduced operating costs, improved occupant productivity and optimized lifecycle economic performance.
Enhanced occupant comfort and health, improved aesthetics, minimizing the strain on local resources and improved overall quality of life, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
So, how do you get there?
Here are 10 simple steps to guide you on the road to greening your facility:
1. Identify and set goals
Begin by assessing the current state of your facility and prioritizing your goals.
Will you be applying for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification or are you simply looking for new ways to make your facility more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable?
According to the EPA, a clear set of goals can turn your vision into a reality.
How do you accomplish this?
For starters, make sure your goals are SMART: Specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-bound.
Then, select and prioritize them.
Next, formalize a budget and begin with easy-to-implement modifications, such as reducing or recycling office paper, to gather momentum and build toward larger goals.
2. Assess your impact
Determine the impact your business has on the environment so that you can identify the actions with the greatest environmental benefit.
For instance, how does your business impact the air, water or surrounding habitats; how much trash do you generate; what are your direct releases to the environment from trucks, ozone-depleting substances or industrial wastewater?
3. Plan appropriately
Careful planning can help you achieve maximum success, according to the EPA.
If your employees don’t share your vision or if you decide to make changes at your busiest time of year, it will be hard to make headway.
Be sure to allocate sufficient resources to ensure success.
4. Practice sustainable purchasing
Do business with suppliers with stated environmental goals and a track record of continual improvement in these areas.
Take into account not just what a product is made with but how it is made as well.
Start by examining the entire lifecycle of products that are purchased for use in the maintenance and operation of your facility, from source to disposal.
There are a wide variety of products that can help you minimize your impact on the environment, as well as reduce costs.
Many of these are certified by green certification systems like the Forest Stewardship Council, EcoLogo and Green Seal.
5. Develop a facility-wide operating plan
By reviewing the operations, monitoring and maintenance of all heating, ventilating, air conditioning (HVAC) equipment and lighting, improvements can be made to daily operations to conserve energy, reduce maintenance and increase the life of equipment.
6. Promote sustainability and recycling facility-wide
Sustainability programs have been shown to motivate existing employees and generate greater interest from visitors, customers and other stakeholders.
Communicate your green goals to everyone and encourage participation in sustainability programs throughout your organization.
Further engage employees by sponsoring recycling drives and competitions.
Green buildings with a recycling focus can reduce waste output by 90 percent and use 30 percent less energy, equating to a five percent increase in net operating income, according to the EPA.
7. Use water more efficiently
Replace old plumbing fixtures and materials with those that meet water-efficient, high-performance plumbing standards and install irrigation systems that utilize storm water for landscape watering.
Check for leaks, install faucet aerators and low-flow devices or adjust flush valves on toilets.
Consider conducting a water audit.
8. Commit to green cleaning
Create a green cleaning program to include the use of chemical concentrates and sustainable cleaning products and materials.
Make sure cleaning staffs are trained on green cleaning practices and policies.
9. Go digital
Take advantage of the digital world.
Bring your laptop to meetings instead of printing out documents.
Convert all employee communications to digital; optimize materials for viewing on iPads, smartphones and other devices where applicable.
10. Ensure continual improvement
Sustainability requires an ongoing commitment to reduce environmental impact for future generations.
Make sure to measure progress, communicate your accomplishments, update goals and activities and continue to move forward.
Revisit your vision at least annually and update your goals as your business grows or changes.
Do What’s Right
Whether you’re building, renovating or updating an existing facility, green techniques can be incorporated into the process at any time.
By following these steps to green your facility, you can help to reduce carbon emissions, preserve forests and biodiversity and help keep the air and water clean.
You can do the right thing and protect your bottom line because environmentally responsible businesses are also efficient businesses.