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Carbon credits, government kickbacks on vehicles and street cred — the hipster crowd swirls around the trendy idea of having a “sustainable” business, but while these much-talked-about perks sound good on paper, what’s it like where the rubber meets the road. How does being eco-friendly change the day-to-day at your business?
The perks might surprise you. There are so many tangible wins to come from making the commitment to eco-conscious ways of doing business — you might wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Here are some of the things we found by getting in touch with real people who work in eco-conscious offices.
People Like Eco-Friendly Businesses
Difficult as it might be to quantify, there is unquestionable value in the positive reaction that eco-friendly businesses receive. Consumers will choose a brand over another because they believe in its business policies. Employees who look around them and see their company showing consideration for the environment feel better about what they do. Remaining conscious of your businesses sustainability will only become a bigger issue as time passes and the environment becomes a greater concern.
Making a commitment to eco-friendly practices now is the best way to receive additional business and boost to employee morale. Some reports show a 20% drop in employee sick time. How many hours of better work or how many good references will that earn you on aggregate? The number only goes up the sooner you begin.
It’ll Help Your Bottom Line
Yes, converting to sustainable practices will cost you money out-of-the-gate. However, in the long-run, you’ll see a return on investment. Take, for example, the installation of solar panels to supply some or all of your business needs. Yes, you will spend tens of thousands of dollars to install the system initially, but there are both short and long-term wins from a fiscal perspective.
As an early adopter, you’re still eligible for the Federal tax credit for solar power in many states. This credit can lead to up to a 30% reimbursement toward the costs of a solar install from the government. With the system installed, you’ll reduce your electrical costs considerably, which means the system pays for itself, typically, within about ten years’ time. Plus, with accelerated depreciation, you can write off a considerable amount of the leftover cost.
Transitioning to eco-friendly vehicles is expensive up-front. However, you’ll save money on fuel over time, and there are similar advantages come tax time, with government write-offs available for businesses that use clean-running cars. If you occupy a large building, converting to LED bulbs will save you considerably on power, as will low-flow water fixtures for your sinks and toilets.
It’s the Law
As our planet teeters closer to the point-of-no-return from the damage caused by unsustainable habits, the government will tighten the proverbial noose to encourage businesses to get in line. If this sounds like news, it’s not. Consider laws like the Clean Air and Clean Water acts, which date all the way back to the 1970s. More recently, the Kyoto Protocol and National Environmental Education Act don’t directly affect every business but can have huge impacts on certain fields such as industrial manufacturing and education, respectively.
Taking steps now to run the cleanest business possible gives you the best chance of avoiding legal trouble in the future. The costs of changing policy and buying new equipment only go up, so it’s a good idea to practice eco-friendly policy as much as you can afford to early-on. Ultimately, it will lead to a healthier, more profitable business with happier employees and a loyal customer following. That’s just good business.
Megan R. Nichols is a technical writer and blogger. She regularly contributes to sites like The Boss Magazine, Born2Invest and Industry Today. She also publishes easy to understand environmental articles on her personal blog, Schooled By Science. Keep up with Megan by subscribing to her blog or following her on Twitter @nicholsrmegan.