Each year on April 22, billions of people across the globe participate in Earth Day, an event designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the environment. This year marks the 46th anniversary of the annual event and, in a year when extreme weather and climate change has consistently made the headlines, its objectives are more pressing than ever before.
More than one billion people are expected to observe the event, taking part in activities such as tree planting and pledging to reduce their carbon footprint. However, Earth Day should not be exclusive to the eco-warriors trying to make a difference – businesses have a huge part to play. So, apart from turning your office into a greenhouse, here are four ways your business can become more sustainable this Earth Day:
Encourage staff to telecommute from home
Encouraging employees to work from home is becoming an increasingly popular way for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint. With less commuters on the roads, there are less vehicles emitting harmful greenhouse gases. Telecommuting could reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 51 million metric tons a year – the equivalent of taking all New York’s commuters off the road.
Introducing flexible telecommuting policies will not only help the environment, it could also boost team morale. Two thirds of workers prefer to work from home, while 36% of employees would even shun a pay rise in favour of telecommuting.
Furthermore, embracing a culture of telecommuting, flexible office space and short-term lets for when you need them can help a business to avoid skyrocketing office costs. Since office-to-residential permitted development rights in the UK were made permanent, office space has become more expensive and elusive. Vacant property security companies like Oaksure Property Protection can heavily reduce expensive business rates adding even more value to property.
Introduce green workplace initiatives
Aside from the inherent ecological benefits of a sustainable workplace, launching a green business initiative can provide a huge boost to a company’s PR image. 53% of consumers prefer to buy from a business with a strong environmental reputation.
Some companies have introduced protocols to limit their impact on the environment, for instance Clearance Solutions follow a reuse and recycling protocol and now save far more CO2 than they produce. Others offer a more direct helping hand, such as SAP recruitment agency Eursap who plant a tree in The National Forest for every consultant they place.
Other ideas include rewarding employees that walk or cycle to work instead of driving, or supplying locally sourced fruit and snacks to encourage employees to eat more organic produce.
Invest in building upgrades to improve its energy efficiency
If the building your company operates from is getting old, it might be time to invest in some upgrades to improve its long term energy efficiency. Replacing old windows is a good place to start. All properties lose heat through their windows, but energy-efficient glazing keeps your building warmer as well as reducing your energy bills by up to 15%.
Structural features such as elevators may also be causing unnecessary harm to the environment. In offices based on multiple floors many businesses have hydraulic lifts installed. These lifts rely on hydraulic oil which, given that it needs to be replaced at regular intervals, is particularly harmful for the environment. Eco-lifts provide a long-term solution as they eliminate the need for hydraulic oil, instead using a more sustainable belt drive traction system.
There are hundreds of ways to upgrade your building. Sussex Exchange, an eco-friendly conference building, has installed a biomass boiler and rainwater harvesting system to reduce its impact on the environment. If these upgrades are slightly out of your price bracket, consider cheaper measures such as using rechargeable batteries and energy-efficient lighting.
Go paperless and turn to technology
Streamlining systems in the cloud has become the most efficient way for businesses to work in the digitised world. Paper can be eliminated from the office as documents can be electronically exchanged and collaborated on via a third-party provider such as Google Drive or Microsoft’s OneDrive.
Centralisation to the cloud also gives you access to free email accounts, word processing and other services. Businesses can therefore save money by abandoning office computer software, as well as cutting back on storage and printer accessories.
Making your business paperless in office can go hand in hand with behind-the-scenes interactions. For example, contractor accountants 3 Wise Bears have taken their services online with cloud-based accountancy software. This provides a simple, separate space for all your accounting invoices and interactions.