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Easy and Affordable Going Green Business Tips
By Michelle Crossley

Creating a "green" business or transforming an established business into an eco-friendly environment, may seem like a very overwhelming task. Yet, in today's era of escalating energy costs and climate change, energy efficiency is the most important aspect of greening your business. You can reap immediate savings by lowering your overall energy use and doing so will automatically reduce your business's carbon emission footprint. You can also save money in the areas of waste reduction, equipment use, transportation, and building design.

Operating a green business is not only good for the environment, but good for your business's bottom line. Conserving resources and cutting down on waste saves money. The good news is that regardless of the type of business you run, there are simple things you can do, to run an environmentally friendly business.

* Save Energy with Existing Equipment. Make it a company policy to turn off all lights, equipment and machinery when it is not being used, especially nights and weekends.

- Much equipment is idle and unused for up to 90 percent of its life.

- Turning off the computers at the end of the day can save an additional 50 percent.

* Save energy by installing new or replacing existing equipment.

- Install low-cost energy monitors that can provide an accurate display of the cost and energy use of individual equipment. Research shows that this step alone can lead to energy savings of up to 40 percent.

- Lighting can often account for up to 40 percent of energy costs for many businesses. Installing motion-sensor or automatic dimmers helps to ensure, that you are efficiently shutting down lights in areas when no one is present.

- A very cost-effective upgrade is to replace all of your incandescent lighting with new compact fluorescent bulbs. Your older 1.5 inch diameter fluorescent tube lighting should also be replaced with newer 1 inch tubes and solid-state electronic ballasts.

- Install displacement toilet dams in toilet reservoirs. Placing one or two plastic containers filled with stones [not bricks] in the toilet's reservoir will displace about 4 liters of water per flush - a huge reduction of water use over the course of a year.

* Reduce unnecessary waste. Any waste that your company generates is an unnecessary cost. Waste is simply inefficient. Implement a recycling program and have a meeting on how to eliminate the items that are not recyclable. Setting up recycling in your workplace is something that is simple and invites your employees to become a part of the movement, giving them a sense of purpose.

- Encourage communications by email and read email messages on screen to determine whether it's necessary to print them. If it's not, then don't. If you need to keep a copy for legal reasons, or for various other reasons, there are online storage sites that may be utilized for this reason.

- Purchase recyclable products for your office, there are now many different vendors that supply not only recycled paper, but sell "green" cleaners, standard or not so standard, office supplies. These vendors will typically provide a recycling program of their own. A word of advice, if you are needing new office furniture, before investing money in purchasing it new, find out if your existing furniture can be refurbished.

Going green not only helps a business to do their part in minimizing their eco-foot print. The savings, especially at times like these, help everyone. If that's not enough, there has never been a better time than now to tap into a laundry list of tax credits, rebates and other financial incentives designed to encourage individuals and businesses to go the greener mile. At the federal level in the U.S., individuals can reap the rewards of no less than eight different financial incentives. Besides these federal incentives, nearly every U.S. state has additional state or local incentives available.

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