Green Business Practices

First, there’s green — how a business impacts the environment by using energy wisely. And then there’s the other green — the money a company saves when it does so.

It’s hard for some business owners to connect the dots, often because of all the up-front planning and equipment costs. But that doesn’t mean going green is nothing but a money drain — far from it. The Deloitte Resources 2015 Study shows that 77 percent of businesses view reducing energy costs as essential to staying competitive from a financial perspective with 79 percent seeing energy-efficiency as vital to remaining competitive from an image perspective.

“It’s no surprise that those are large motivations,” says Kevin Burns, manager of conservation for the Orlando Utilities Commission. “But for every dollar you save, it has an actual impact to our environment. If 1,000 business owners are willing to make even a small change, think about the impact that would have on our city.”

For example: A higher thermostat setting of just a few degrees for an air conditioning system can save 10 to 15 percent  on energy costs. “I’ve found that many times business owners don’t reset the temperature by a few degrees after work and guess what? They’re cooling the furniture,” Burns says.  Nor does the higher thermostat setting have much of an impact on comfort, as a 2-degree difference is barely noticeable by most people.

New technologies can help, too. ”Smart” equipment can save both money and the environment. These devices range from digital “learning thermostats” (10 percent per year) to LED lighting (more than 75 percent over incandescent bulbs). But you have to invest a little green to save green – typically $250 per thermostat and $15 per LED bulb, although they can last 25,000 hours or more.

Other energy-saving measures may involve data and software, says Harold Gubnitsky, president and chief strategy officer at ProcessMAP, a provider of cloud-based enterprise software solutions based in south Florida. “When building a business plan to pair environmental responsibility with profit, it’s important to ensure you are equipped with proper tracking tools to report your data to multiple constituents.” That not only includes management but potentially investors as well who are concerned about sustainability.

If you’re looking for help from OUC, Burns stresses that incentive programs and tools can help you make eco-friendly improvements. “Our customers should know that we offer free energy and water assessments for their businesses. We do the assessment and give you a prioritized list that’s tailored specifically to you, your business and your operation.” This survey covers heating and air-conditioning systems, water heaters along with lighting and insulation. OUC also offers a $250 utility credit for companies that participate in its Small Business Efficiency pilot program. Aside from help mapping out an eco-friendly business strategy, OUC auditors will provide information on efficiency rebates and incentive programs.

If you want to start the process with your own research, the new Business Energy Advisor section of the OUC website covers 18 business models, including small and mid-sized companies. See how energy savings can be smart business at www.ouc.bizenergyadvisor.com

— Lou Carlozo, Tribune Content Solutions Writer