How to Promote Going Green and 5 Easy Energy Efficiency Projects
Why should businesses go green?
Profits, sales, and revenues are undoubtedly important objectives that businesses need to achieve in order to survive. But businesses, whether small or big, have an even more important objective- maintaining environmental sustainability. 22nd April of every month is celebrated as Earth Day by businesses around the globe. But this is not the only day when businesses should show respect towards our planet. It should become a daily practice for them. The logic is very simple; no business can survive if our planet Earth doesn't survive.
Whether you have a fast food restaurant, a hotel or a multinational business, you need to focus on developing an Eco-friendly business. “Go green” is perhaps an echoing buzzword today, but it's time that businesses actually start embracing it like a gospel truth. There are a number of advantages that an Eco-friendly business can reap. Here a few of them:
- Reduced waste and improved business efficiency.
- Tax and legal advantages, including credits, incentives, and various exemptions from the government.
- Creation of a healthy workspace.
- Fulfillment of corporate social responsibility.
- Creation of a sustainable environment.
Given these advantages, no business can ignore the importance of going green. It syncs them with their environment and ensures that scarce resources are used optimally and judiciously. While businesses may be reluctant to change, they have no other option but to change if they aim to survive in the long run. Going green is important if a business is aiming at huge savings, improved staff productivity, and a better relationship with customers and communities.
Effective ways for businesses to go green
Let's take a look at a few ways in which businesses can become “green businesses” and entrepreneurs can become “Eco-entrepreneurs”.
Considering post-consumer waste
Perhaps very few businesses will know how effectively they can use paper scraps and other wastes that go into the dustbin, every day. Such wastes are called post-consumer wastes (PCW), meaning their use did not produce any other product. So, technically, they contribute towards a much cleaner workspace. The best way to switch to post-consumer waste (PCW) is by skipping paper completely. They can use Eco-friendly paper for printing so that they don't contribute to extra wastage. Businesses should look for 100% PCW mark on the paper boxes so that they are using less harmful products.
Switching to eco-friendly lighting
There are a number of ways businesses can light up their workspace without affecting the environment. The best way to do so is by using compact-fluorescent (CFL) or light emitting diodes (LED) lights. Albeit these bulbs cost a little higher than the usual incandescent bulbs, they are long-lasting and way more energy efficient. Both LED and CFL bulbs can replace standard bulbs and save up to $200 per light bulb over time. Not only will these bulbs light up the workspace but also push down electric bills to a great extent. This kind of lighting adds immense value to the workspace and takes good care of the environment.
Considering biodegradable cleaners
The distinction between biodegradable and nondegradable is very clear. The former breaks down naturally, while the latter does not. This distinction becomes even more important while talking about waste disposal and landfills. But when it comes to businesses, the importance of biodegradable products is simply unavoidable. One example of such products is biodegradable cleaners. These products lower the introduction of harsh toxins into the environment, thus protecting it from their harmful after-effects. Businesses should switch to greener soaps, shampoos, and cleaners so that they can contribute their bit towards a healthier environment.
Getting rid of outdated appliances
It's not uncommon for businesses to use the same appliance for years. But their falling energy efficiency is something businesses can't avoid. For example, a printer that has been in use for over 10 years is likely to consume more power than the latest versions. Moreover, such printers may not be equipped with Eco-friendly components like their modern-day counterparts. Businesses should consider replacing old and outdated appliances and devices with new ones. Not only will they get better functionality but also higher energy efficiency. They should look for the Energy Star rating on the appliances so as to ensure an Eco-friendly investment.
Using alternative sources of power
Using energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances is good at their place. But an energy-efficient source to power them is nothing less than an icing on the cake. Solar and wind power, hydropower, geothermal energy, and plant matter are renewable sources of energy that can be used efficiently to power up workspaces. These alternative sources of energy can come with a big cost of investment, but they are certainly cost-saving in the long run. Moreover, these sources never deplete, meaning they are meant for recurrent usage. Using alternative sources of energy will certainly help businesses in conserving scarce resources and protect the environment.
Recycling outside the box
Recycling newspapers, boxes and other items of daily use is a good idea for businesses. But there's certainly more they can do. Instead of buying brand new furniture, businesses can consider purchasing second-hand or vintage ones to furnish their workspace. Not only will it prove less expensive but also put old items into use again. This will also reduce the amount of scrap produced in the process. Businesses can take help from local dealers or online stores that deal in old furniture.
Encouraging green transportation
Businesses should encourage their employees to use the public transport as much as possible so as to reduce the carbon footprint left behind by automobiles. There are many other green transportation modes, such as walking or biking. The latest concept of carpooling is also a great way to reduce automobile emissions. Instead of employees coming from the same direction taking different modes of transportation, they can share a car with their colleagues. Not only will this save the environment but also increase parking space in offices. Carpooling also reduces road traffic, and also highlight a company's commitment towards environmental protection.
Utilizing green web hosting
In today's digital age, a company has to strive to maintain an active digital presence. But they can resort to Eco-friendly ways of doing so. One such way is using green web hosting. Green web hosts are organizations that participate in a wide range of activities, such as promoting the use of renewable energy sources, purchasing carbon offsets, tree plantation drives, and applying for renewable energy certificates while running servers and web infrastructures. Not only will this help them reduce cost and protect the environment but also make them socially responsible in the long run.
Conducting an energy audit
While office spaces may have a plush design, it's not necessary that it's Eco-friendly. Some studies by the Department of Energy have shown that cracks and leaks contribute immensely towards high electricity bills. Sealing them is seen to cut down heating and cooling bills by nearly 20%. An energy audit can reveal the loopholes and bring more efficiency into the workspace. Some states provide free energy audits and pay for the necessary repairs. Such an inspection should be done regularly so as to ensure that the businesses are meeting the required energy-efficiency standards.
Last but certainly not the least, businesses can resort to eco-friendly ways of selling to different parties, such as customers and vendors. For example, while using giveaways as a promotional strategy, companies can give customers something they can use again. Instead of disposable pens, they should consider coffee mugs as a giveaway item. Moreover, the items should be packed with recyclable materials so that there is less generation of waste. “Green selling” methods are a great way to uphold environmental protection and provide something valuable to customers at the same time.
5 easy energy efficiency projects to draw inspiration from
The above were a few ways in which businesses can make themselves Eco-friendly. But going green requires businesses to comply with a number of specifications. They have to install Eco-friendly systems and establish processes that keep the larger objective in mind- maintaining the environment's sustainability. This has paved the way for different energy-efficient projects to come up in the recent times.
Energy-efficiency projects are gaining strategic importance and recognition today, with several different levels of organizations expressing keen interest towards them. There are a number of projects that can inspire businesses to take steps towards Eco-friendliness. Here are few of them:
- Monitoring and leakage identification
Sites and plants are perhaps the first locations where businesses can bring about energy efficiency. One such project that businesses do (or rather should be doing) is sub-metering. It is a well-established process of measuring electrical flows in large sites and plants. But the recent technological transformation has infused several changes in the monitoring and identification of leakages.
Sensor technology, for example, possesses the potential to bring about a huge change in this domain, thus enabling organizations to keep pace with the competition. Energy management systems provide a number of operating benefits and make systems more efficient. Such systems can identify anomalies in harmonics and voltage and reduce downtime and outages. Vectors such as water/condensate, steam, compressed air, and fuel provide a holistic approach and thoroughly checks the entire process.
Even leakage detection audits can provide impressive results for improving the overall business efficiency. Energy-intensive vectors such as compressed air and steam help businesses identify leakages and make new investments. The process becomes even more robust when new technologies are installed on the basis of potential savings and required accuracy.
- Data and energy management systems
In the present day business scenario, where regulatory-driven audits are gaining importance, the most important starting point for any action is data and information. Energy audits provide useful insights but are frozen in time. But, perhaps some degree of intelligence is enough for a successful data and energy management system. Intelligence, however, comes from capturing, applying, and manipulating data points to identify trends and outliers and measure progress.
It's widely considered that a data collection system or process is the first step for a capital investment. A huge collection of processes exists that can cope with multiple vectors and inputs. Such processes can help businesses in determining an efficient project pipeline action, from behavioral change to huge capital investments. But software may change as a result of business changes. So, it's important for businesses to ensure that the energy and data management system create and prioritize in the project pipelines of the industrial energy manager.
- Smart motor control and variable speed drive systems
There' s no doubt in the fact that industrial electricity consumption is rising significantly. Studies have revealed staggering statistics of electricity consumption in industries worldwide. Small businesses are also not lagging behind in exerting pressure on the resources. They often use motors and devices that operate at a full speed and regulate output using mechanical means. That can consume unbelievable amounts of power.
But variable speed drives (VSDs) can perhaps help businesses in overcoming this problem. These devices use huge industrial electric motors whose speed can be adjusted using an external controller. These devices are becoming extremely popular in process control because they help in saving a lot of energy. Businesses can match its speed to its application and save up to 30% of energy! That's an enormous saving. The capital expenditure on motors can be as small as 8% of their life cycle costs, which is 92% of operational costs. As such, these motors provide a strong avenue for investment because businesses can get a substantial ROI just within a year of using them.
As mentioned earlier, lighting also contributes immensely towards a business' operating costs. It consumes about 20% of the total power consumption worldwide. As such, LED and CFL lights have become a prominent cost-cutting installation in offices. But there are several other options depending on the lighting requirements, usage, location, and switching cycles. Some LED lights can also fit seamlessly into existing fixtures.
When presenting businesses with different lighting investment options, one very important benefit of LED lights goes under-reported. This kind of lighting can provide uniform lighting effect, thus improving both low-lit and high-lit areas. As such, their effect on employee health and safety becomes obvious. The most noteworthy benefit is the reduced exposure of employees to color spikes from fluorescent lighting.
Sensor activation is seen as a good way to reduce power wastage. Occupancy sensors dim or switch off lighting when nobody is present in the room, thus reducing electricity use by nearly 30%. Daylight sensors are also a good way for businesses to bring about efficiency in their lighting systems. These sensors are capable of adjusting lighting according to the natural light entering the room. Having a maintenance plan for skylights and windows is a good way for reducing dependence on artificial lighting, thus reducing electricity usage.
- Heat waste and cogeneration
Heat and the use of waste heat using different technologies is commonly overlooked by businesses. Heat exchangers, thermal de-stratification blowers, and microturbines available in the present times function very precisely. They blow down the heat from the ceiling and contribute immensely towards energy savings. Thermal imaging surveys, for example, can help businesses find out the quantities and probable sources of heat waste.
But the largest investment could be in a CHP co-generation plant, which is variable in terms of size and power. Businesses can configure these onsite power plants into co-generation plants, which utilize heat waste for heating boilers. They can also configure them as tri-generation plants where heat waste can be used to operate absorption chillers, which can effectively run HVAC systems.
Businesses can even use contemporary quad generation plants, which combine heat, electricity, and cooling and recover additional carbon dioxide from the exhaust gas. The recovered carbon dioxide can be put to different industrial uses, especially in the food and beverage industry or greenhouses. This process is highly efficient and effective in reducing carbon emissions.
When it comes to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, there are a few ways in which businesses can ensure energy efficiency:
- Lowering temperature points by one degree can reduce annual heating bill significantly.
- Replacing inefficient boilers brings in more efficiency into a business' energy systems.
- De-stratification fans can be installed to reduce energy usage.
- Businesses should ensure that they purchase only high-efficiency motors.
- Having variable speed fans can help businesses in reducing their overall electricity bills.
- Businesses should ensure that their air conditioners are not operating below 24 degree Celsius so as to reduce cooling costs.
- Using free cooling coils in air conditioners also save a lot of energy and money.
The aforementioned projects are highly effective in turning any business into a “green business”. These projects, although popularly found in large organizations, can also help small to mid-sized businesses. These systems and processes can reduce operating costs, improve efficiency and productivity, and safeguard bigger environmental aspects as a part of their corporate social responsibility.