Spending Green to Go Green

Green is the new black,” but businesses are finding it’s an easy way to put them in the red.

What did you do to celebrate Earth Day?  Admittedly, I neglected to do much about it myself – unless you count noticing the “Google Doodle” that morning…

One of the biggest pushes in our culture recently is the urging to “Go Green”.  Recycle and reuse are part of the mantra I’ve been hearing for quite some time.  Generally, I am all for reusing; the basement is filled with stuff that I don’t want to get rid of since I know that I can use it for some project or other as soon as I throw it out.  Recycling has become part of “just what we do” in our house.  The cost of doing these activities, in my case, is not very much. The stacks, boxes, and piles in the basement take up space I could probably use for something else.  Recycling costs me time and gas to drive them to the recycling center which is 3 ½ miles away once or twice a month, but so far it’s been a reasonable investment.

However, on a larger scale, the cost of being environmentally responsible may be more than its worth in these economic times.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

USA Today reported: “For two years, the city of Durango, CO, bought electricity for all its government buildings from wind farms. The City Council ended that program this year, reverting to electricity derived from coal-burning plants and saving the cash-strapped city about $45,000.”

Many companies, institutions, and government agencies are finding that the cost of being responsible is too much. The effect of these rates often result a return to older, and affordable, sources.

I Can’t Afford To Save the Environment

In many cases, the desire to be Green and economic reality are at opposite poles.  Companies that utilize older buildings are finding that it is just not within their budget to upgrade the premises to a greener, cleaner state.  For instance, a phone call to a New England business that has occupied the same 100 year-old building for the last 70 years thought that replacing fluorescent lighting with skylight panels to obtain nearly free ambient light in the factory sounded great – until they found that the roof needs to be replaced in order to do it.  Then, of course, to replace the roof the basic structure of the building needs to be retrofitted.  The list goes on.

This isn’t an isolated case as the U.S. Government knows.  In order to help companies afford to be Green, tax incentives have been in place for a few years and are constantly being revised. Websites abound with information on these programs to help businesses decide what the best course of action is.

Taxes aren’t the only program that governments have made available.  My home state, Pennsylvania, has a program to help pay for Solar Energy Initiatives in the Commonwealth.  The “Pennsylvania Sunshine Program” includes a $100 million program to encourage people to invest in solar energy. The Pennsylvania Sunshine Program would provide reimbursements to homeowners and small business owners who installed solar electric and solar hot water projects.

The drawback right now is that the program hasn’t really been implemented fully yet.  This leaves a lag in solar implementation initiatives as installers wait for customers who in turn are waiting for the Program to start – but it’s a start – and many state initiatives can be found around the U.S.

The ISO 14000 Approach

Ah yes, ISO Standards.  A few years ago, a company I worked at implemented ISO 14000 Standards not only to improve our position in the particular field of manufacturing we were a part of, but also to be responsible to the local environment where 98% of our workforce lived.

Following the ISO 14000 Standards will help to ensure that your business meets governmental environment and pollution requirements; it will save you money, time and effort because they help to avoid costly penalties for violating those regulations and restrictions.

Using ISO as a foundation to Go Green may, in some cases, make more sense to some businesses; in other cases, it may present an even larger investment in time and money.  Since the ISO Standards are tied to governmental regulations, once you achieve ISO Certification, there is the aspect of having continual audits and new Standards that will have to be met. This isn’t a bad thing, but it is something that needs to be kept in mind before embarking on a course of action.

Why Should I?

There’s a saying, “Many hands make for little work”.  Basically, if we all chip in then there won’t be much to do overall.  Gone are the days where we could misuse the environment without concern simply because it didn’t matter.  The Dustbowl of the Depression, Love Canal, and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch are just a few examples of what has been done to the environment without regard to the consequences.  The Green initiative seeks to avoid similar situations that can lead up to major disasters that affect the entire ecosystem of the planet. All of us taking part will make the process of getting Green less work, and ultimately, less expensive.

Ed Giles is a Specialist with the XONITEK Consulting Services Team. Ed brings years of experience in Manufacturing, Shipping/Receiving, Material Handling/Inventory Control, Warehouse Distribution, and many other strategic technologies to the XONITEK team.

Contact him at gilesec@xonitek.com.

endorsed by XONITEK Corporation or its employees)

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