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Green Business Ideas to Save Money

Key Takeaways

  • A number of federal tax breaks are available for businesses that make energy-efficient upgrades.
  • Look for vendors that follow environmentally sound business practices, such as producing goods through sustainable methods or using minimal or recyclable packaging.
  • Promote a culture of energy efficiency. There are a number of simple, everyday steps that you and your staff can take to reduce your business’s environmental footprint.

Earth Day isn’t the only time to think about the impact your business has on the environment. Taking steps to go green not only helps the planet, but it can also save you money and help build customer loyalty. In a recent Nielsen survey, nearly half of respondents said that a company’s commitment to the environment impacts their purchasing decisions, while two-thirds said they’re willing to pay more for sustainable goods.

Technology has made it easier than ever for businesses to go green. This — coupled with falling prices on energy-efficient equipment and fixtures — makes now a particularly good time to take action. The following tips can either help you get started or build on your existing eco-efforts.

Go paperless

Even if going completely paperless isn’t an option for your business, there are other ways to reduce waste. For example, arrange to receive statements and bills through email and allow payments to be debited electronically. Consider exploring systems that let you invoice and collect customer payments online (such as those available through online banking). Also look for ways to reduce the amount of paper used in your workflow, including:

  • Sending meeting agendas through email, rather than printing them for attendees
  • Using online systems to organize, collaborate on and store documents
  • Capturing signatures electronically

Reduce travel

Instead of traveling to meetings, consider attending virtual meetings via video or web conferencing tools. Many of these tools offer low-cost options for small companies, and include features such as screen sharing and virtual whiteboards that simulate in-person meetings.

Also look for tools that can help reduce every day trips for you or your employees. For instance, if direct deposit is not an option, consider adopting remote deposit or mobile deposit services — which allow you to scan and transmit checks securely — to cut down on trips to the bank.

Work with green vendors

Look for vendors that follow environmentally sound business practices, such as producing goods through sustainable methods or using minimal or recyclable packaging. Also try to source goods from local suppliers; not only will this lessen the environmental impact of transporting the goods, but it also keeps money in your community. Consider showcasing these green suppliers and any environmentally friendly brands you sell at your business and on your website.

Make energy-efficient upgrades

Look to replace equipment that is nearing the end of its life with energy-efficient models, such as those with the ENERGY STAR® label. The ENERGY STAR website provides information on a number of business-focused products, including computers, servers, imaging equipment and food service appliances. If you own your building and have a fair amount of sun exposure, consider switching to solar power.

Today, a number of federal tax breaks are available for businesses that make energy-efficient upgrades. These include the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit, which covers up to 30% of the cost of solar heating and cooling systems, wind turbines, and other equipment.

Many state and local government agencies offer tax deductions, grants, and other incentives for energy efficiency improvements. A comprehensive list of incentives can be found in the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE)®.

Buy used, when possible

Furniture, vehicles, and some types of equipment are often available used, and in nearly the same condition as new. If you don’t need the latest technology or features, buying used items can save you money while keeping those items out of landfills. However, be sure to weigh upfront savings against long-term benefits. For instance, older refrigeration equipment may be considerably less energy-efficient than newer ones. While a used model may be serviceable for a short while, it may ultimately make sense — financially and environmentally — to purchase a new one.

Promote a culture of energy efficiency

There are a number of simple, everyday steps you and your staff can take to reduce your business’s environmental footprint. Along with common sense practices — such as turning off unnecessary lights, heat or air conditioning — the actions below can have a significant impact:

  • Swap out incandescent light bulbs for more efficient LED bulbs.
  • Recycle as much as possible. Some organizations in the e-Stewards program offer free recycling of computers and peripherals. You can also donate these items to schools or nonprofit organizations.
  • Stock reusable mugs, dishes, and silverware in the break room instead of disposables.
  • Buy printer paper with high amounts of post-recycled consumer content and consider using remanufactured ink and toner cartridges.
  • If you provide company cars for employees, look for energy-efficient models.

More information

Learn more about how we’re committed to helping your business reach its potential. Our dedicated business banking professionals can help you find the right products to meet your business’s needs; please call 1-800-428-7463 or drop by your nearest Citizens Bank branch.

The ENERGY STAR name and mark are registered trademarks owned by the U.S. EPA.

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