While the choices private citizens make can have an impact on slowing climate change, it’s businesses that ultimately have the bigger influence. They use more resources and impact a greater number of people.
Still, the job of a business owner is not to operate as an activist. It’s to turn a profit and to keep the lights on and try to turn a profit. Sometimes the desire for sustainability can feel like it is in contrast to the desire for stable profit. That doesn’t have to be the case.
In this article, we take a look at sustainable, sensible business practices that can help you reduce your carbon emissions without busting your budget.
Consider a Remote Work Environment
Working from home can reduce your carbon footprint in several ways. For one thing, it puts a lot fewer cars on the road. The average American commute is thirty minutes each way. That means that by switching to a remote work environment, you can subtract hundreds of hours of driving from your carbon footprint each month.
Switching to a remote work environment also allows you to downsize your lease. Even if you do retain a physical space of some kind, it probably won’t need to be nearly as big as you had when you were a strictly brick-and-mortar business.
Reducing your overhead also means shrinking your utility usage—a big boon for companies that are trying to be more sustainable.
As a bonus, you will also save a significant amount of money.
Use Sustainable Appliances
If you can’t entirely step away from commercial real estate, you can at least make sure that you are using it in the most sustainable way possible. Eco-friendly major appliances (particularly HVAC) can help reduce the amount of energy you use even during normal operations. You get the same experience on the user end but for a reduced financial and ecological cost.
Eco-friendly appliances can be on the pricier side, but most modern units have at least some sustainability features built in, even if they aren’t, strictly speaking, high-efficiency units.
You may also be able to get rebates through government programs that exist to incentivize businesses to reach for sustainable solutions. Do research to find out what options are available in your area. Finally, think big picture. Even though the short-term cost might be unpleasant, these machines usually save the user money in the long run.
Double Down with IoT
Even if you can’t afford an entire new HVAC system, you probably can afford to invest in IoT sensors. IoT-powered appliances (often referred to as “smart home,” technology) reduce your energy costs by only activating the machines at full power when you are actually using them.
IoT sensors can often be paired even with older units to make them more efficient to operate. Not only is it good for heating and cooling, but it can also be used for lighting, security, and other big-ticket items that could stand to benefit from energy regulation.
Unlike full-blown appliances, IoT-powered products often only cost a few hundred dollars and typically pay for themselves in energy savings over the first year or so.
Work with Sustainable Businesses
As you dig deeper into the sustainability movement, you will quickly find that you weren’t the first business to arrive at the party. There are many companies out there that bake sustainability into every step of their supply chain.
Making sustainable choices for yourself is great, but it only does so much good if all of the bands you collaborate with are major carbon emitters. You can find brands in almost every sector that are just as committed to reducing their carbon footprint as you are.
In fact, some brands, like HP are on the way to carbon neutrality. By partnering with companies like them, you can further reduce your business’s footprint with minimal extra effort.
Look for Sustainable Energy Sources
Admittedly, alternative energy sources aren’t accessible to everyone. Getting panels even for a modest-sized building can easily cost in the mid-five figures, and wind power is equally hard to access. There are programs out there that allow you to release panels. These programs often don’t come with the same amount of monthly savings as you would get by owning the panels outright, but they remain a good way to reduce the impact of your business’s daily operations.
As with many of the other suggestions on this list, there are also grants, stipends, rebates, tax credits, etc. that make seeking alternative energy sources a little more doable. Renewable energy sources can save you money in the long run and are necessary for businesses that want to maximize their carbon reduction efforts.
Explore External Options
The most impactful forms of carbon reduction are usually done in-house. However, there are also ways you can offset your emissions with a transaction. Carbon offsets and sequestration programs allow you to pay another business to help you reduce your footprint.
Offsets usually work by paying for reforestation, or other processes that help to sponge up carbon in the atmosphere. Sequestarization works by essentially storing carbon in places (like rock formations) where it can no longer be harmful to the environment.
Helping to support programs like this can take your sustainability efforts well beyond your business’s ordinary reach.
High levels of emissions create unsafe air pollution and accelerate climate change. That’s bad for everyone. Fixing the problem is not easy but from action comes opportunity. Businesses that are able to reduce their carbon footprints are usually rewarded both with reduced energy expenses and improved standing in the court of public opinion.
People like doing business with companies that care about the environment. So, do your part. Cut carbon. Help save the world. And maybe make a little money doing it.