Topic: green business at work

10 Ways to Go Green

The Hamilton County Waste Management department has been working hard to help increase environmental awareness around the area.  Earlier this year they shared 10 Ways to Go Green, which are very much worth re-sharing.

From the Hamilton County Interchange Newsletter:

Top 10 Ways for Your Business to Go Green
Michelle Balz, Program Specialist, Hamilton County Solid Waste Management District

So, your business has decided to reduce its environmental footprint and become a good corporate citizen by going green. Generously, upper management has given you free reign to implement environmental policies…but where do you begin? Here are 10 simple ideas that can increase worker productivity, improve your company’s public image, and save your company money.

1. Start Recycling

Today recycling is a no-brainer. More than 40% of what we throw into the landfill is paper, yet over a dozen local companies crave paper as feedstock for their operation. Not wasting this valuable resource can also reduce your waste bill since the cost to haul recycling is lower than trash. Add in the environmental benefits of reduced pollution and conserved energy and it is easy to understand why recycling is often one of the first environmental policies a company adopts. For help with recycling, call the Hamilton County Solid Waste Management District at (513) 946-7734 or visit www.hamiltoncountyrecycles.org.

Environmental Benefit- Recycling office paper reduces air pollution by 95% and saves 24 trees for every ton of office paper recycled (National Recycling Coalition).

2. Switch Your Bulbs

While the lighting technology choices are endless, CFL, LED, T8, T5… the solution is clear: switching to energy efficient lights saves energy and money. The bulbs may cost more upfront, but energy efficient lights last much longer than traditional bulbs and use significantly less energy to reduce costs in the long run. To help you decide which technology is right for you, visit www.energystar.gov.

Environmental Benefit- Replacing a single standard bulb with a CFL reduces energy use by 75% and prevents 450 lbs. of carbon dioxide emissions over the life of the bulb (Energy Star).

3. Build Green

Whether you start with a vacant lot or renovate your current space, integrating green building ideas can decrease energy and water use and increase worker productivity with a healthier work environment. The idea is simple: use sustainable materials and design to create a space that works with the local environment instead of against it. For ideas on green building and how to earn LEED certification, visit the US Green Building Council at www.usgbc.org or call the local Cincinnati chapter at (513) 388-0020.

Environmental Benefit- Green buildings on average use 30% less energy than conventional buildings, saving $60,000 per year for every 100,000 ft2 space (US Green Building Council).

4. Convert Your Fleet

Increase fuel efficiency, decrease pollution, and receive federal tax credits, need I say more? Integrating hybrid vehicles or biodiesel not only builds a green fleet but it also makes the public aware of your green commitment. To compare the latest alternative fuels and vehicles visit www.CleanFuelsOhio.org.

Environmental Benefit- The production and use of biodiesel, compared to petroleum diesel, results in a 78.5% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions (National Biodiesel Board).

5. Implement Storm Water Management

Everything the rain washes off your buildings and parking lots ends up in a stream nearby, likely with unnatural speed that damages a stream ecosystem. You can take steps to minimize this effect by installing green roofs, buffer zones, rain gardens, and porous pavement. These practices allow rainwater to slowly release into local streams improving the health of the stream for local wildlife. For more information, visit
www.hamilton-co.org/stormwater.

Environmental Benefit- Porous pavement can reduce storm water runoff six times better than traditional pavement during peak rainfall (Environmental Protection Agency).

6. Encourage Employees to Save Fuel

If gas prices continue to climb, employees will welcome ideas to reduce fuel consumption. Offer incentives to employees who take the bus, ride a bike, carpool, or drive fuel efficient vehicles. Or if practical, allow your employees to work from home and eliminate the commute altogether. These actions will reduce your company’s carbon footprint and likely save employees money.

Environmental Benefit- Switching a 20-mile round trip commute to existing public transportation can reduce one person’s annual CO2 emissions by 4,800 lbs per year, equal to a 10% reduction in all greenhouse gases produced by a typical two-adult, two-car household (American Public Transportation Association).

7. Adopt an Environmental Purchasing Policy

Your company purchases many products- why not make those purchases greener? Adopting an environmentally preferable purchasing policy will give your employees the green light to seek out products ranging from post-consumer recycled content paper to non-toxic cleaning products. For sample policies and environmental purchasing tools visit www.epa.gov/epp/.

Environmental Benefit- Purchasing one ton (40 cases) of 30% post consumer copy paper saves the equivalent of: 7.2 trees, 2,100 gallons of water, 1,230 KW hours of electricity, and 18 pounds of air pollution (Conservatree).

8. Reduce and Reuse

Reduce waste in your office by discouraging employees to print unnecessarily (e.g., keep emails electronic) and encourage double-sided printing when possible. A simple change in margin size to 0.75 inches fits more text onto a page and reduces paper usage over time. Reuse in your office by providing a water cooler instead of water bottles and giving employees a reusable mug instead of disposable cups.

Environmental Benefit- Save energy! You would have to use a foam cup 1,006 times to reduce the amount of energy equal to reusing a ceramic mug (Institute for Lifecycle Environmental Assessment).

9. Make Energy Conservation an Office Habit

Want an option for going green that won’t cost you a dime? Encourage employees to conserve energy by turning off lights when they are not in use and shutting down computers before they go home. This small change in behavior can add up to a big conservation of energy. According to the US Department of Energy, to conserve the most energy turn off the monitor if you are not going to use your PC for more than 20 minutes and turn off both the CPU and the monitor if you’re not going to use your PC for more than 2 hours./

Environmental Benefit- Turning your computer off at night or on weekends can reduce energy use by two-thirds and save an average of $90 a year per computer (US Department of Energy).

10. Take the Go Green Challenge

By joining the Hamilton County Go Green Challenge, your business becomes part of a network of local companies implementing green practices. Go Green Challenge members also have access to experts in a variety of environmental fields and receive public recognition for their accomplishments. Visit www.hcdoes.org/gogreen.htm for more information.

And remember, the next Go Green Challenge event is Oct 7. Are you registered?

Greener companies bring in more green

A recent study from Brockmann and Co. claims that compared to standard businesses, eco-friendly companies have:

  • 3x customer satisfaction
  • 4.7x employee satisfaction
  • 1.7x more revenue per employee

Including socially and environmentally responsible practices in your business can increase your competitive edge.  Of course going green makes you feel warm and fuzzy, but cold numbers speak louder.  Is your business sustainable yet?

Cincinnati branding goes eco-friendly

Cincinnati has a large contingent of branding, marketing and communications professionals and companies.  As the design and packaging industry has moved toward sustainable practices, Cincinnati has an opportunity to lead the wave.

Finally, there is news that a Cincinnati company will focus on branding for eco-friendly products.  Read more about Marsh Eco from Soapbox Cincinnati.

Marsh Inc., an independent design consulting firm, has launched Marsh Eco to to specialize in brand identity, packaging and promotional design for companies that create consumer products supporting eco-friendly lifestyles. Ken Neiheisel will lead the Marsh Eco team from the Marsh Inc. headquarters in downtown Cincinnati, producing the creative work, and providing other project support.  Sherri S. Henry will focus on new business for Eco in the Austin, Texas market and surrounding areas in the Southern U.S. She’ll be based in Austin.

In recent years, Marsh has worked with leaders in health and eco-conscious living such as Whole Foods, Save Your Skin and Nest Fresh Eggs. “Consumers are embracing the importance and value of eco-friendly, healthier products, and as a whole are rethinking their lifestyles,” Neiheisel says.  “This paradigm shift represents an extension of our business – that also marries with our personal convictions.”

If you are a marketing or design professional, will you take your clients toward a sustainable future?

LED Street Lamps

LED lighting uses less power than traditional incandescent bulbs or even compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs). LEDs are still priced out of use in average homes, but are finding a home in other applications.

A recent trip to Watt Works,  a company providing residential and commercial energy saving products and services in Columbus, introduced a street lamp using LED lighting.

These inventive street lamps are being incorporated into neighborhood streetscapes in Columbus and around the country as a way to reduce the environmental impact of ongoing operation of the street facilities.

Clovernook compostable cups and politics

The Clovernook Center’s recyclable and biodegradable paper cups came into the spotlight again this week by being chosen for the Democratic National Convention.  The Clovernook Center is a local 105 year old non-profit organization dedicated to a high quality of life for people with visual impairments.  This Enquirer article mentions a few other customers that the Clovernook Center has landed with their inventive product.

This is great news because it shows that the cups are filling a need as companies, people, and events across the country work to be more environmentally conscious.  Need more proof that green business is good business?

Quote from the enquirer article:

New interest in green products will help propel Clovernook’s cup business from about $500,000 in sales last year to roughly $1 million this year, Usalis said, making the cups one of the highest-growth business segments for the center.

Keep this in mind when your business makes product development plans or your entrepreneurial spirit kicks in!

More love for the Cincinnati Streetcar plan

The Director of the Economics Center for Education and Research at the University of Cincinnati recently worked to provide testing to support the positive outcome of the Cincinnati Streetcar feasibility study presented in 2007. In a nutshell, George Vredeveld’s work says:

Cincinnati is on the right track in considering a streetcar system, according to Vredeveld. The likely average net economic payoff of $315.8 million, as estimated by HDR over a 35-year period, is sound, as is HDR’s most conservative net economic payoff estimate of $186.8 million over 35 years. Even if this most conservative payoff comes to pass, “the proposed streetcar system is economically worthwhile,” said Vredeveld.
From the UC News online.

This week’s guest blogger on Soapbox Cincinnati is Councilman Chris Bortz. His first entry is a piece with more information supporting the Streetcar initiative. Here are his concluding remarks:

Why build it? You’ve heard the arguments. We need more money to keep the pressure on crime, close the health gap, improve workforce development, and combat blight. We need more residents and more jobs. A streetcar, according to the experts, will help create those jobs and attract those residents and generate those new dollars as well as position our city in a competitive, global economy, create walkable neighborhoods, attract young professionals, stimulate residential development, energize retail, reduce parking pressures and alleviate traffic congestion. But my favorite reason to do this? To tie together all the investments we have already made or are making. We can physically connect them.
From Cincinnati Soapbox.

These are convincing arguments for a small leg of city mass transit, and all without specifically mentioning gas prices or the environment. That’s a good indicator of the right thing to do - when it makes sense economically, socially, and environmentally. Remember the triple bottom line: people, the planet, and profits working together to create sustainability.

Findlay Farmer’s Market appreciates you

Findlay Market’s Farmer’s Market is an excellent place to pick up some locally grown foods and plants. They help fill your belly with in-season foods and they want to thank you for continuing to visit them.

From the Findlay Market website:

Saturday August 30th, from 11 AM to 1 PM, the local growers in the Findlay Market Farmers Market will hold a Customer Appreciation Day celebration on the Farm Shed Plaza.

They will be grilling their own fresh vegetables and fruits for you to sample. There will be other fresh foods to taste, flowers for the kids, and free recipes so you can take new ideas home to try.

Stop by and try grilled leeks, okra, eggplant or even peaches! Sample homemade pesto or smoked garlic on crusty artisan bread. Talk to the folks who grow your food, and let them tell you “Thanks!” in person.

And if you need more inspiration than that, check out our Live Green Cincinnati video pod featuring the Findlay Market Farmer’s Market on YouTube!

I Make Cincinnati Green: handyman edition

Ever wander around the house and look at things that you know you can fix to save energy or water like that leaky toilet or your drafty windows?  Knowing what you can do to make your living space more environmentally friendly is one skill, being able to install and maintain things around the house is totally different.

This week we meet Chris Wiedeman, the handyman known around town for wearing a utility kilt.  His business, UtiliKris, specializes in offering earth-friendly repair suggestions and using energy-smart and natural materials.  He’s also a great example of how you can convert your current skills into a green job!

Do you make Cincinnati green? Submit your answers to the three questions below with a picture.

  1. Who are you?
  2. How do you make Cincinnati green?
  3. What’s on your wish list for a greener Cincinnati?

I Make Cincinnati Green: creative edition

Environmental efforts in Cincinnati are far from all technical and lead by large companies and the government.  Meet Alison Glover, with Seek Research, who is making it happen.

When her company grew and started looking to move into a new space, Alison learned about green building and green offices so that she could take ideas and plans to her company leaders.  The good news is that Seek was all ears and is now implementing an environmental plan thanks to Alison’s efforts.

Every job can be a green job.  Use the Live Green Website to find resources and ideas that will work where you work.  Bring ideas to your managers.  Create or join the office green team.  Make a small change.  Improve the world around you.

Paperless meetings save resources

Many companies are envouraging virtual meetings via teleconference and videoconference to save the costs of traveling.  One side effect of more virtual meetings is saved paper.  If the meeting attendees are scattered across different locations, an electronic copy of the agenda and presentation works much better than mailed, printed copies.

Paperless meetings can also be a benefit to face-to-face meetings.  Look at this example of the Hamilton County Commissioners going paperless for meetings and saving both a pile of trees, the time of copying the documents, and a decent amount of money.

Planning a workshop or seminar?  Consider saving all the agendas and presentations and supporting documents for the meetings to a USB memory stick.  Have the memory stick imprinted with your company’s logo and you’ve got an instant paperless workshop or tradeshow giveaway.