How going green can help your organization

How going green can help your organization

Sustainability has become an important issue facing companies on every front, but what does it mean and how can it help your company? You may be surprised that it doesn't require outlandish expenses or major updates. In addition, implementing green initiatives in the workplace can help attract new talent and retain existing employees. Keep reading to learn what going green means and how it can help, not hinder, your company, along with a few tips to start your green initiatives in the workplace.

What does going green in the workplace mean?

Going green in the workplace can mean different things to different people and companies. It generally means applying changes centered on sustainable choices to help a company lessen its potential environmental impact. This might focus on reducing waste, rescuing reusable items from waste facilities, or recycling items to become something new. This can also mean establishing processes that produce fewer greenhouse gases or reduce the toll taken on the surrounding environment.

Why should companies go green?

Companies go green for various reasons, differing between organizations and industries. Helping the environment is the primary reason companies should go green, as implementing green initiatives means a healthier planet and surrounding ecosystem. Putting less pressure on natural resources helps their ecosystems recover, which can work to reverse the adverse effects of urban sprawl and greenhouse emissions.

"Going green not only helps a company achieve its sustainability and environmental goals but also offers many secondary benefits."

Why going green is important

So, what other benefits do companies get from going green besides helping the environment? There are several secondary benefits to starting environmentally conscious initiatives and practices in an organization, including the following:

Reduces operational expenses

While different initiatives will have varied costs for a company, many pay off in the long term by resulting in less expensive operating costs. For example, if a company installs solar panels, they'll pay a higher initial installation price compared to their normal electric bill. However, as time passes, they'll see a decrease in their electric bill month after month, with some companies having no electric bill to pay.

After some years, the company will break even with this initial installation cost and start saving. Many hit this break-even point after just eight or nine years.

Enhances recruiting and hiring efforts

People want to work for a company they can be proud of. Having green initiatives in place can help a company boost its recruiting and hiring efforts simply by their existence. Some job seekers search for companies offering these projects. By having them in place, your hiring team may have a larger candidate pool to choose from, increasing the chances of finding top talent to bring on board.

Promotes innovation

Getting your team involved with finding ways to go green promotes innovation. Rather than relying on the executive and management teams to produce ideas, go to the rest of the team for new ways to do things, thoughts about how the company can go digital, and methods to streamline existing processes. Involving your team in innovation can also increase employee satisfaction, as the company may recognize their unique contributions to the organization's success. 

Enables tax incentive claims

Green initiatives can have related tax incentives, potentially saving the company money each quarter. Here are some tax incentives your company might be able to capitalize on when considering how to green the workplace:

  • Building improvements deduction: If your company owns a commercial building, you may be able to get this tax deduction if it recently has made energy-efficient improvements related to heating, ventilation, air conditioning, hot water systems, lighting, and building materials. While deductions vary, the company must have an independent building certification to claim this rebate.
  • Electric motor vehicle deduction: Having a fleet of vehicles can be costly, but investing in qualified electric vehicles for your fleet can qualify you for a unique deduction for the tax year you purchase these vehicles. Some states also offer additional tax reductions for qualified electric vehicles for even more savings.
  • Alternative energy tax credit: Installing alternative energy solutions can also help your company claim this tax credit. Tax credits differ between green energy solutions, such as wind turbines and solar panels, so researching your options can help you get the most credit.
  • ENERGY STAR initiatives: Buildings with energy efficiency enhanced by at least 25% can claim this credit, with higher percentages allowing additional bonuses. ENERGY STAR also helps businesses find ways to improve their energy efficiency by installing LED lighting, tracking water usage, and monitoring energy usage.

Green initiatives in the workplace

There are many green initiatives to consider when enhancing your company's energy efficiency and sustainability. While each company and industry can benefit from different types of greening plans, here are some to consider:

Reduce paper waste

Approximately one billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the United States. While this doesn't come from a single source, businesses can do their part to reduce this amount by finding ways to reduce paper waste. This can include distributing information via email notifications or other digital methods.

Reports can transition from physical to digital, reducing paper waste and relaying information more efficiently. Digital records are also becoming more commonplace as they enhance a company's ability to source information and retrieve data used in daily tasks or decision-making processes.

Replace energy wasters

Many companies may be wasting energy without knowing. Swapping or removing energy wasters can dramatically affect energy consumption, ultimately boosting the company's energy efficiency rating. For example, turning off the lights when employees have gone for the day or allowing natural light into the office are some simple fixes to help reduce energy consumption.

To take it a step further, swapping halogen lights for more energy-efficient LED lights can have a double benefit of reducing your energy costs and your maintenance expenses. Halogen light bulbs often need more frequent replacement than their LED counterparts, making those maintenance expenses add up over time. Older appliances are major energy wasters, too, as they increase your daily energy consumption. Updating the break room refrigerator, replacing the dated microwave, and swapping the energy-consuming stovetop for a hotplate are all ways to help reduce the company's energy usage.

Contribute to an environmental cause

Donating to environmental causes is another way to easily establish green initiatives. With causes ranging from wildlife rehabilitation to ecosystem protection, there are many to choose from that can help the company go green. Contributions don't have to take a huge chunk out of the bottom line; donating when the company can or running fundraising campaigns are all ways to support a cause without negatively impacting profits.

Promote green energy days

Promoting carpools to work, implementing a public transportation reimbursement program, and starting other little green energy days are all ways to promote a green energy model for the company. These can also attract talent and foster a positive company culture.

Going green helps a company achieve its sustainability and environmental goals and offers many secondary benefits. From attracting new talent to tax benefits, your organization has many reasons to consider going green.

More tips for creating a green work environment:

Going green is half the battle. Knowing how to do an environmental, social, and governance report is key to showing how your company is working towards its sustainability goals.

Green initiatives are just one way to attract top talent. Finding many ways to attract the next generation of workers can help you gain the attention of top-tier talent.

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