Ask Eartha: Sustainable Business Program

 In Ask Eartha

Dear Eartha,

I’ve been striving to live more sustainably over the past few years and want to make a better effort at my business. What tips do you have for someone trying to bring sustainability into the workplace?

-Marc, Breckenridge

HC3's Resource Wise Sustainable Business ProgramWhile your efforts to live more sustainably at home are commendable, we’re very excited about your interest in environmental stewardship at work as well. At the High Country Conservation Center, we work closely with over 160 Summit County businesses to reduce their environmental impact and save money. Through our Resource Wise sustainable business program, businesses owners gain a greater understanding of how their business uses energy and resources.

Beginning with a quick assessment of your business’s sustainability practices and energy efficiency, the experts at HC3 gain a deeper understanding of the specifics of your business and the building it operates from. With this information, HC3 delivers reports outlining potential improvement projects and various ideas to green your business. Additionally, through the funding we receive to operate this program, businesses have access to rebate incentives to help them pay for the various improvements we recommend. Participation in the Resource Wise program is intended to be minimally invasive and an easy process for your business. Funded by our local municipalities and Summit County government, participation in this program is completely free for any Summit County business or religious organization.

When we assess a business’s performance, we’re looking for a business that conserves water and energy, utilizes eco-friendly cleaning products, reduces material use, and recycles or composts correctly. In assessing these areas of a business’s operations, we’re able to take a holistic approach to identifying solutions that make the most sense for a business to implement. As your workplace completes recommendations outlined by HC3, you’ll ascend the levels of our certification system, earning your business more community outreach and recognition for your efforts.

Anyone can walk around their place of work and take notes of some basic things they could improve upon to help save money and the environment. Look at the type of light bulbs you have installed. Most bulbs will list their wattage in small print somewhere on them. Light-emitting diode, or LED, bulbs are the most efficient on the market today and can save up to 80 percent of the energy used by traditional lighting styles such as fluorescent and incandescent. The price of LEDs is at an all-time low, making this investment one that will typically pay for itself in a couple years. Feel around for drafts and look for daylight around your windows and doors to identify where you could install new weather-stripping or caulk some gaps. In our climate zone, air leaks account for roughly 40 percent of overall energy costs.

Take a look at the paper you print and make copies on and see if you can start stocking post-consumer recycled content or pursue paperless options for your business. Do the same with the cleaning supplies you have on hand and make a note to purchase more eco-friendly products moving forward. Touch base with HC3 if you want to learn how you can improve your recycling procedure. Sometimes, the best fix for a business is to simply update their signage, which HC3 will be happy to assist you with. To cut down on water use, HC3 can also provide your business with some free water-efficiency products that are easily installed in minutes.

Be sure to ask the Summit County business you patronize most if they have joined the Resource Wise sustainable business program. If not, share with them why their environmental stewardship is important to you and ask them to give us a call at 970-668-5703. For more energy saving tips, and to learn more about our energy efficiency programs, read this column weekly, give us a call or visit HighCountryConservation.org.

Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at info@highcountryconservation.org.

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