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The Business Benefits of Going Green

11 August 2011 17,405 views No Comment

It’s a fallacy that running an eco-friendly business and turning a profit are mutually exclusive goals – there are, in fact, many financial benefits to going green.

Why go green?

As environmental issues assume an increasing importance in all our lives, the concept of ‘going green‘ has really started to take off in many people’s personal and business lives. The world has finite natural resources and, with the global population expected to rocket from its current figure of just under seven billion to an estimated nine billion by 2050, the implementation of sustainable living and working practices has never been more crucial. Add concerns about global warming, pollution and wildlife conservation and it’s no wonder the green revolution has started to gain such momentum.

Many individuals consider the adoption of a greener way of living to be more of a moral obligation than a mere lifestyle choice. Many business owners would doubtless agree – but in difficult economic times, when the financial bottom line can be far too close for comfort – they may also feel that, while they’d like to adopt greener practices, actually doing so is far down their list of priorities.

The fact is, though, greener working practices do not necessarily have to cost more, and in many cases can actually reduce business costs.

Travel alternatives

Traveling can be one of the most costly aspects of any business, in terms of both financial expense and a business’s carbon footprint. Not all travel can be avoided, but with advances in communications technology, virtual meetings are increasingly taking the place of face-to-face.

There are certainly times when face-to-face meetings are beneficial or even crucial but, equally, you may want to consider whether putting a dozen people on different flights for a two hour meeting is really the best solution.

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) software such as Skype, traditional telephone conference calling, instant messaging and email conferencing all offer far cheaper and greener alternatives.

Similarly, employees could also be given the option to work from home, whether on a permanent or occasional basis. Again, this depends on the situation, but in many cases, and for many tasks or projects, individual employees could accomplish just as much without making the daily grind to the office. Furthermore, reducing your need for a physical office space not only reduces your resource consumption, but also dramatically reduces your company’s regular costs.

Consider trains over planes

When traveling within your country or region, trains offer a greener and ultimately more productive experience than flying. While a short flight is always more attractive than a longer train ride, a train journey gives you the opportunity to continue working during the time you’d be either checking in, queuing or traveling to and from the airport while flying – and the carbon footprint for train travel is significantly less than flying.

The paperless office

Few businesses can operate without a stationary cupboard of some sort, but vast amounts of record-keeping and communications that used to clog up desks and filing cabinets alike can now be done entirely electronically.

Going as near to paperless as possible will not only make things easier to organize, but can also save on the basic costs of materials and on postage, which can often add up to a surprisingly hefty expense. Important documents should, of course, be backed up to the hilt, and hard copies will often have to be made, but there are savings to be found in the day to day management of most offices.

Energy grants and initiatives

Many countries are now offering incentives for businesses to use greener working practices, and to off-set the costs of changing working practices. In the US, there are a range of national and state energy initiatives encouraging businesses to move to more sustainable energy sources, such as the US Treasury grant Program 1603 for businesses installing solar, wind or hydro energy generators. For an easy one-stop resource to find all available green grants, try the North Carolina State University’s Database State Initiatives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) search engine.

Some business owners may claim there are many pressing reasons in today’s climate (pun most definitely intended) for them not to go green. But with green issues taking on ever greater importance to customers and employees alike, and with clear financial benefits to many green practices, business owners are better off asking themselves if they can afford not to change to a cleaner, greener way of working.

About the author:
Christian Arno is the founder of professional translation services provider Lingo24, experts in the foreign language internet. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over 150 employees spanning three continents and clients in over sixty countries. In the past twelve months, they have translated over forty million words for businesses in every industry sector, including the likes of MTV and World Bank. Follow Lingo24 on Twitter: @Lingo24.

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