Building a Sustainable Business | A New Look at Energy Conservation

Building a Sustainable Business

by Cindy Zeis

We’re living in a day and time when the words sustainable, green, recycle and the like are becoming common household terminology.  We’re looking at our plastics differently, putting our glass jars and bottles in a separate bin from our biodegradables etc…  We’re even looking at how we build our cars, our homes, and our office buildings by using the 3 R’s…Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse model.

We’re altering our lifestyles to meet the changing needs of our environment.  In the workplace we’ve added recycle bins, print to document, and fax to e-mail services to help save our natural resources.  We’re upgrading to energy efficient devices to conserve energy and for some we’ve even resorted to using photovoltaic cells on our rooftops to offset the use of fossil fuels in our daily operation.

As much as we’re doing to conserve our natural resources I believe there is one resource we fail to use the conservation model with and that’s our own energy.  When we continue to do business in ways that are outdated and fail to educate ourselves in more efficient work practices, we’re wasting our energy and from what I experience and can see in the world we need as much of this as possible right now to live in this ever-growing, ever-changing, fast paced society.

Keeping with the Reduce, Recycle, Reuse model let’s see how we can work to create a more sustainable business and effectively relieve ourselves from much of the self-induced stress that lays claim to much of our wasted time not to mention our health.

  • Reduce – This is where we can reduce the time spent on projects as well as reduce our stress levels.Educate yourself with the latest technology to help increase productivity and reduce the time and stress of using old school methods of operation.
    • Upgrade to the most recent version of your office tools.  The companies who produce these tools are always looking to make them work better with today’s technology.
    • Incorporate work from home strategies in to your business to reduce your (and that of your employees if applicable) commute time which will effectively reduce stress, add time to your busy days, and reduce the amount of fossil fuels used by conventional commuting (at $4 a gallon this also reduces stress).
    • Reduce your level of stress by imposing a mandatory break every couple hours with a nice long break somewhere in the middle to get outside and have a good stretch.
  • Recycle/Reuse – We often think of this when using paper and ink etc…   Let’s look at how to recycle and reuse our energy while increasing productivity.
    • Generalize documents, trainings, videos and whatever else you use in your business so you can use them across the various lines of communication.  Getting too detailed can often reduce our ability to use the same or similar media in several applications.
    • Data collection is one of the areas that often drain our time and energy.  Using a master spreadsheet from which you can extract the data you need could be one of your greatest assets.  Education here is a must as many people I come across are not able to use the basic functions of this wonderful tool let alone use a vertical lookup function or query to pull data in to a new spreadsheet or document.
    • Use an automated e-mail response tool to reuse your contacts by automatically shifting them from one category to another when applicable and/or communicate with more people at one time in the most effective manner.

This is certainly not meant to be the end all be all in creating a sustainable business but merely a tool to redirect your thought process when it comes to energy efficiency and sustainability.  Take a look at your day to day interactions and see where you can come up with a few of your own.

Remember, to use the Reduce, Recycle and Reuse model in business is to Educate, Update, and Incorporate the latest technologies in to your daily operations.  Failure to do so will reduce your positioning in the marketplace whether you’re a business owner, manager, or employee and in today’s economy none of us can afford this type of reduction.

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