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Business Benefits of Going Green

The effects of greening your business can range from saving on the energy bill to building your profile through picking up an industry award. Giovanni Ebono shows how.

A simple first step is to find out the criteria used by various environmental ratings systems (NABERS and Green Star) and environmental awards (The Green Building Award, Sustainable Building Award and Banksia Award) and use them to develop a tip sheet or checklist for your own business. Even if you don’t see your company as award-winning material these criteria will give you a great starting point.

Your checklist will enable you to conduct your own mini-audit of the entire footprint of the place your business occupies within its environment. Some of the issues that may crop up include:

• your company’s use of refrigerants;

• its impact on water;

• its waste disposal system;

• how it impacts upon the landscape;

• its use of transport systems;

• the design of your building; and

• the materials chosen for your building.

While some of these things may be difficult to adjust in the short term, others may not. When examining each aspect of your company’s footprint, look for opportunities to reduce waste, reduce consumption of energy and resources, and improve design and systems.

How to go Green

The old 80s management clichÈ, the 80/20 principle holds as true for energy, waste and water as it does for sales results. The vast majority of your energy and waste inefficiencies and therefore potential savings will come from a very small number of issues that you discover.


A professional audit of your systems may seem an expensive outlay just to rate the green credentials of your enterprise, but it is possible that such an assessment could discover significant potential for savings. A Victorian university recently discovered that over 30 percent of its water use occurred at night when no-one was there. This was completely due to leaky plumbing and was addressed through relatively inexpensive maintenance.

Other examples include sloppy implementation of air conditioning systems, and interior design that clashes with air conditioning systems. Another major drain on energy in many office blocks is the small numbers of offices that operate for 24 hours. In such cases the entire building’s systems may be functioning around the clock when only a tiny percentage of the building’s inhabitants need power. An accurate assessment of the wastage and associated costs in such buildings might encourage tenants and landlords to plan their decision-making about tenancy more effectively and charge appropriate fees.

Encourage your colleagues, staff, friends and customers to care about the place that your company takes up within the environment. Setting an example of genuinely caring and allocating appropriate personal and financial resources to energy conservation and sustainability projects helps to build a culture where the environment is taken seriously.

Some folks will care. Some will not. Some executives or employees, despite your efforts to build a green-conscious culture, will just not co-operate. Develop energy-saving strategies that are not dependant on their goodwill and efforts. Work around them.

It’s important to set energy-saving targets, and make them realistic. A fifteen percent drop in energy consumption will not only contribute to the health of the planet but will add a significant contribution to your business’s bottom line. Convince your colleagues and staff to turn off the lights and other appliances, equipment and machinery in areas where they are not required or working at the time. This is one easy first step in energy saving.


On a similar theme, ask yourself how many of the staff at your office really needs to be in the building at all? How many could work effectively from a home office that would be a much lesser drain on energy resources. Consider whether your business would be any worse off in a smaller building with smaller rents and much lower energy bills.

While a focus on greening your business might seem like a career distraction in the short term, in the long term, greater wealth generated by green companies will see significant career rewards for businesspeople who do pay attention to the needs of the environment. Make sure staff understand their personal greening efforts will be considered a performance positive. Staff, friends, customers and colleagues should also be encouraged to travel to and from work and in between offices and appointments by more sustainable means. Personal cars, taxis and airline travel should be minimised wherever possible in favour of walking, bicycling, telecommuting, car-pooling, public transport and teleconferencing.

Active Image* Giovanni Ebono is the author of Sydney's Guide to Saving the Planet and director of the Ebono Institute, which supports ‘businesses with a purpose’ through communication services and e-business infrastructure.

* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of DYNAMICBUSINESS.com or the publishers.

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