Green Business: How to Make Your Company More Energy Efficient
Investing in energy efficiency can help you save money in the long run. From using LED light bulbs to harnessing the power of the sun, there are all sorts of ways to create a green business.
Being environmentally responsible, also known as being a green business, is smart business. Although you may have to invest in your infrastructure before saving money, it can pay off.
“What I would say to the C-suite executive or business owner who believes that it’s too expensive to be energy efficient is that is not completely true,” says Kobi Karp, principal at Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design, a Miami-based architecture design firm that specializes in sustainable buildings.
If you’re looking for ways to improve energy efficiency in your workplace, you may want to mull over some of these strategies.
1. Replace an energy hog.
Molly’s Spirits transformed into a green business, or at least a greener one, in 2017, three years after the Denver-based upscale liquor store opened.
Rufus Nagel, Molly’s Spirits CEO, was looking to lower his energy costs, which were pretty massive. For starters, his store sells over 12,000 products in a 30,000 square foot facility with 80 cooler doors leading to refrigerated storage.
Molly’s Spirits also does hundreds of alcohol deliveries each week, to individual consumers and large-scale events like weddings. For a time, the gas bill for seven delivery cars was pretty steep—around $2,000 a year.
So in 2017, Nagel replaced one of the cars with an electric car. Not long after, he replaced his entire fleet. Each electric car generally drives 20,000 miles a year, which translates into $810 in electricity costs on each vehicle.
“On fuel alone, we save $1,200 per year per car, resulting in a savings of $8,400,” Nagel says.
“The greater savings, though, is capital cost savings because electric cars have no maintenance and do not break down,” he says.
There’s also the maintenance savings: Nagel figures that Molly’s Spirits saves at least $1,000 per car in maintenance costs over the lifetime of their cars, “and probably another $1,000 in longevity.”
Nagel says there are benefits to going electric than just the money, too.
“[It] convey[s] clear branding that Molly’s believes in reducing local air emissions,” he says. “This is a very big quality of life issue in the Denver and the greater Front Range [in the Southern Rocky Mountains], which suffers from inversions in the winter causing smog.”
It’s not that Molly’s Spirits doesn’t have energy bills, but its total energy costs have definitely come down.
2. Build energy efficiency into your green business.
If you’re starting a new business or moving into a new place, you’d do well to think about energy efficiency from the get-go, says Karp.
He suggests making sure your building has as much natural light as practical—it could save a business as much as 25 to 80 percent on energy costs.
You might also want to think about using laptops over desktops as well.
“Desktop computers tend to consume between 65 to over 250 watts of electricity compared to laptops, [which] normally use between 15 to 60 watts,” Karp says.
He is also a big proponent of renewable energy sources such as solar panels, even if they’re expensive. You may need to use a line of credit or take out loans, but the investment in your infrastructure can be worth it.
“The amount that you will save monthly will eventually add up, saving you a ton of money,” Karp says. “Utilizing energy-efficiency techniques will end up costing you two to three times less than traditional power sources.”
3. Turn seemingly useless space into something energy friendly.
Businesses could be doing a lot with their space to make it more energy efficient, says Leila Dillon, vice president of marketing and communications at Ameresco. (Ameresco is a renewable energy and energy efficiency company headquartered in Framingham, Massachusetts.)
“For instance,” she continues, “replacing old or outdated lighting fixtures with LED sources is a low capital investment that can significantly trim down monthly utility bills. Some businesses also choose to conduct HVAC upgrades, water reclamation and employ advanced building controls to generate additional savings that can be reinvested into the business.”
She also has intriguing idea for any business that has an outdoor parking lot.
“Businesses with uncovered parking lots can create solar canopies covering the lots, creating cost-effective and clean onsite energy,” Dillon says.