Your Organization or Business can make a Difference
Your business can contribute to protecting the earth—after all, 90% of businesses in the world are considered small! We already have tools that can slow climate change, and new climate protection technology is developing at an incredible pace.
Although climate change is a global problem, responding to it is up to businesses, organizations, and everyone, where they live and what they do right now. Consider engaging in the protection of our climate and our planet! Do this with three steps: ACT, SHARE, and SPEAK UP.
Top Ten Actions Your Organization Can Take to Protect our Planet (and Save Money)
Climate change is driven by greenhouse gasses, a point on which 99% of scientists agree. To repair the atmosphere and protect our planet we have options that can stop pollution caused f these gases. As businesses and organizations, the steps we can take to save our planet include the following, with many more actions described on this web site and across the internet. Some of the actions are big, some are small, but all of them are necessary to correct the climate imbalance.
“It may seem counterintuitive that spending more money on sustainable business practices can boost a company’s profitability, but studies show that the most sustainable companies are also the most profitable.” Harvard.
1: SPEAK UP and work with other businesses and the wider society to prioritize action on climate change.
- As policy is considered that provides incentives for businesses and organizations to take energy-smart actions, consider making calls or writing to policymakers to encourage climate-positive incentives. GreenBusinessBureau.com
- Support and take advantage of incentives to help your organization to become climate neutral. Let policymakers know you appreciate the incentives and rebates. GreenBusinessBureau.com
- Be public in support of climate-smart solutions, because “[b]acking policies that reflect your values are good for the bottom line, too. 87% of customers will purchase a product from a company that advocated for an issue they care about […]” GreenAmerica.org
By working with others to fight climate change, you can ensure your business will continue with fewer interruptions from extreme weather caused by a heating planet. One way is to support policies that help businesses become sustainable. “The U.S. government understands the need for sustainable and renewable energy. so it offers various tax advantages to businesses that go green. This includes tax breaks, rebates, and other monetary enticements. These financial incentives are offered on both the state and federal levels. Some examples follow.
- Business deductions for installation of HVAC, interior lighting, or hot water systems that significantly reduce power use.
- Tax credits and grants of 10 and 30 percent for use of renewable energy sources.
- Tax credits for use of alternative vehicles that meet specific fuel-efficient standards.
- Bonus depreciation for qualified recycling and reuse of certain equipment or machinery.”
- Small businesses, together, can advocate for cost-saving and climate saving policy. Time Magazine
“Small and mid-size businesses have the power to impact eco-friendly policy. “It’s important for policymakers to hear members of the business community embrace a transition to a clean energy economy,” Teplitz says. Business leaders are simply seen differently than politicians or environmental activists—they’re sometimes more trusted.”
“Backing policies that reflect your values are good for the bottom line, too. 87% of customers will purchase a product from a company that advocated for an issue they care about, and 82% of US Fortune employees want to work for the CEO of a company that is vocal about social issues. Depending on your supply chain and workers, this could include anything among the spectrums of human rights, climate change, cultural values, and public health, to name a few.” Green Business Network
“Being a green business means taking traditional practices out of their linear state and thinking circular: how does this action affect my workers, my consumers, my planet, and back to my business? The days of the single-financial-bottom line business model is not enough anymore because the newest generation of customers – millennials – represent $2.45 trillion in spending power with 70% willing to spend more on brands share their values.” Green Business Network
2: SHARE: PUBLICIZE YOUR CLIMATE SUCCESSES
Customers are eager to support efforts to repair the climate, and businesses can take advantage of that by talking about the group’s commitment to protecting our planet. Employees are also drawn to companies that take sustainability into account. The Hill
- Advertise any steps you are taking that reduce fossil fuel energy use, such as installing solar panels or purchasing energy from renewable sources through your utility. Customers support climate-friendly businesses. Green Business Bureau
- 60% want climate-friendly products as one of their top priorities.
- 38% actively check labels to identify climate-positive products.
- 51% are highly influenced by labels indicating the item is made responsibly.
- 42% feel better about buying from climate-sensitive companies.
- Let staff know that the company is working towards reducing energy use and driving to net-zero emissions. This increases employee satisfaction.
- Let potential hires know about the company’s environmental commitment; this increases your firm’s ability to hire the best staff. Green Business Bureau
“In a November 2020 Ipsos poll, roughly 63 percent of U.S. adults said they believed “purchasing sustainable brands or products makes a difference for our environment,” with 57 percent noting that they felt “better” when buying “sustainable brands or products.” The Hill
“66% of all respondents and 75% of millennial respondents say that they consider sustainability when they make a purchase. 1“ This can help your business stand out to customers, and help you establish leadership in dealing with the climate. That’s important for your small business. According to Forbes, Gen Z makes up 40% of consumers in the US, and Millennials comprise another 22% of consumers in the US. These consumers want to do business with companies that are authentically committed to doing the right thing.
More job applicants are interested in working for responsible, sustainable businesses, and employees working for sustainable businesses are retained for longer. Business News Daily
“Research has shown that millennials are fast making up the largest workforce generation in the US […] Millennials are willing to sacrifice a portion of their salary to work for a company that is sustainable and can provide social benefits.” Green Business Bureau
“[A] company that implements sustainability initiatives such as donating a portion of its profit to an environmental cause and allowing employees to work from home is more likely to attract, and retain employees than a company that does not commit to environmental or social sustainability.” Green Business Bureau
“Focusing on sustainability in business models and corporate governance can give businesses a lasting competitive advantage, according to Boston Consulting Group.” Forbes
“Winning more customers: Many current and potential customers are attracted to businesses with a commitment to sustainability. Examples abound of businesses that have won large contracts due to their solar investments – buyers love products and services that are sun-powered! In addition, a solar installation is a great opportunity to promote your organization and raise awareness of your offering in the community.
Improving employee satisfaction: Employees are increasingly looking to work for sustainability-minded companies. By demonstrating your company’s commitment to solar power, your employees will be happier, more productive, and invested in the company mission.
Supporting the local economy: When a business contracts with a solar company, workers in the local market complete the installation. Greater demand for solar projects increases the availability of high-quality, well-paying jobs. Those workers could become your future customers, too.” Inc.com
3: REDUCE ENERGY USE which also saves money.
Offices and commercial buildings are huge contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions can be offset by practical investments in the workspace. These include:
- Installing LED lighting that uses up to 75% less electricity. Electricity Plans
- Adding sensor-driven switches and lighting. Freelancer.com
- Upgrading equipment and appliances to use energy-efficient models. Energystar.gov
- Insulate your buildings; the energy cost savings accrue directly to your bottom line. Freelancer.com
- Switching to smart power strips. Freelancer.com
- Purchasing laptops instead of desktops. Energy.gov
- Investing in energy star office equipment. Energystar.gov
- Involving staff in decisions about and suggestions of energy saving ideas. Forbes
- Reducing paper use. Sustainability.Yale.edu
- Replacing appliances with energy-smart systems saves energy, and may be eligible for rebates. Energystar.gov
- “Changing your thermostat to run 1 degree lower in winter and 1 degree higher in summer can reduce the power used by up to 10 percent.” Freelancer.com
“An average business uses more than 20 percent energy than it needs.” That is wasted money. Freelancer.com
“LEDs have a longer lifespan, and use up to 80 percent less energy without sacrificing power.” Freelancer.com
“[S]mall businesses could reduce their energy costs between 10 and 30 percent through competitive rates, straightforward efficiency upgrades and simple behavioral adjustments – all without sacrificing service or comfort.” Business Direct Energy
4: USE RENEWABLES
If you own your building, consider installing solar power; otherwise, consider opting for green energy through the local utility.
- Solar energy gives you an opportunity to cut your energy bills, keeping energy costs low for years. This can reduce your electricity costs by 89%. EnergySage
- When you adopt a renewable energy form, you’re getting a significant return on your investment. Conserve Energy Future
- Renewable energy, with backup battery storage, ensures your employees, customers and place of business always has access to electricity and energy. In the event of bad weather, you will remain operating, without economic loss from business interruption. Conserve Energy Future
- Protects you from price fluctuations. Renewable Energy Magazine
- Investing in renewables keeps those dollars in-state and contributes to local economies. Conserve Energy Future
“According to EnergySage marketplace data, the average commercial property owner pays around $557 in monthly electricity bills before going solar. After their installation, their electricity bill was reduced by approximately 89%.” Energy Sage
“Energy prices change over time, and sometimes they fluctuate suddenly and severely. Changes in the amount of available fuel, demand for electricity and the costs of generating, distributing and transmitting electricity all impact the price of energy. If a business owns its own generation resources, however, it doesn't have to worry as much about potential price fluctuations. This enables them to forecast costs with more certainty.” Renewable Energy Magazine
“If a business installs an energy generation system that produces more energy than it uses, it can often sell that energy back to the grid. This means that renewable energy can be more than just a money saver. It can also be a source of extra revenue. Selling energy back to the grid can help offset the costs of installing solar panels or another energy system.” Renewable Energy Magazine
“Approximately 63% of the electricity produced in the U.S. is generated by burning fossil fuels, mostly coal and natural gas. Small businesses, acting individually and collectively and with the strength of their purchasing power, can provide an impetus for electric utilities to move as quickly as possible to replace this capacity with electricity generated from renewable sources, in most cases, solar and wind” through the purchase of renewable energy programs through utilities. Yale Climate Connections
5: SUPPORT RESPONSIBLE FOOD-RELATED ACTIONS
Food waste is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The energy waste along the chain of food production is enormous: growing, harvesting, storing, transporting, cooking, and even decomposing food (releasing methane in landfills). We can reduce work-based food-waste by:
- Getting a headcount before ordering out for staff meals. Request recyclable containers. Beverly and Salem Climate Action for Businesses Toolkit
- Adding plant-based meal options at a workplace when food is made available to staff. Vox.com
- Encouraging staff to take home leftover food. Beverly and Salem Climate Action for
- “Some 40% of food grown in the US isn’t eaten, and waste of organic products is up by 50%. Over the last ten years, the cost of food has increased by 42%, so when you’re trashing food – you’re trashing money!”RecycleCoach.com
- “By purchasing from other businesses that support local farmers and the community, you are indirectly reducing food waste by minimizing transportation in the food system.” Green America
“Simply put, for every $1 invested in things like training staff” saved $14 or more. World Resources Institute.
“Food loss and waste has many negative economic and environmental impacts. The global economic, environmental, and social cost of food wastage is estimated at US$2.6 trillion, which is nearly equal to the GDP of France (FAO, 2014). Food waste generates unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and wastes both water and land, harming ecosystems.” Drawdown.org
“Sweden uses food waste to create biogas – a kind of fuel that powers everything from their buses, to heating resident homes. Why not sell your food waste to a local biogas company for profit?” Look for a local biogas producer who could use the food waste. RecycleCoach.com
“Your business doesn’t have to be a restaurant or grocery store to reduce food waste. An office that caters from local fares can still reduce their overall waste. By purchasing from other businesses that support local farmers and the community, you are indirectly reducing food waste by minimizing transportation in the food system. Additionally, creating an office compost program will recycle food waste into fertilizer.” Green America
6: RETHINK TRANSPORTION
- Reduce air travel and reconsider transportation choices. With the ability to hold meetings online, it may be possible to fly less, which saves money and protects the climate. TechRepublic.com
- Support employee use of public transport and ride-sharing. Greenbiz.com
- Permit employees to work from home whenever it works for your firm. This cuts down on commute-related emissions. Beverly and Salem Climate Action for Businesses Toolkit
- If you have company-owned transportation, consider replacing vehicles with electric models. Beverly and Salem Climate Action for Businesses Toolkit
According to Time Magazine, “on average, switching a light duty truck from gasoline to electric will save about 6,000 pounds of CO2 emissions annually.”
No-cost employee benefit: Data shows the average employee saves up to $4,000 per year just by teleworking part-time. Further, a recent survey shows that 83% of employees prefer this—a point that helps you retain staff. Nextiva.com
“Small businesses can provide employees with public transit benefits that help the environment, either directly or through their human resources (HR) software.” Check with your city transit agency to see if it offers “subsidized passes for businesses. Alternately, these benefits may be available to add through HR software that centralizes all benefit programs. Greenbiz.com
“The transportation sector is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the U.S. EPA data indicate that light-duty vehicles collectively produce the most emissions (59%), followed by medium- and heavy-duty trucks (23%) […]” Yale Climate Connections
“With the emissions data in mind, companies could make a significant contribution by transitioning from gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, so long as that electricity itself comes from non-fossil fuel sources whenever possible.” Yale Climate Connections
7: REDUCE, REUSE, AND RECYCLE—note that these actions are listed in order of impact
- Make it easy for employees to recycle by placing clearly labeled recycle bins under each desk or centrally located in the office. Recycling reduces your waste management costs while helping the environment. SmallBusiness.Co.UK
- Consider finding “retailers that are offering device buy-back services and trade-in programs.” This reduces your costs and extends the life of office equipment, instead of sending it to a landfill. TheBoonRoom.com
- Use recycled materials in production, if possible. This “can save you on raw material costs. You’ll be able to increase the profitability of your products overall, and your business will have the potential to create a closed-loop recycling system.” QuickBooksIntuit.com
“There’s no doubt you’ve heard the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” – but any business new to the green movement will find its starting line here. The Three R’s should apply to every facet of your business – from packaging, to office supplies, to operations, and supply chains.” Green America
“Always opt for reducing and reusing first, as these practices skim the excess. When there’s no reusable alternative or reusing simply doesn’t work for your business, start a recycling program in your office.” Green America
“Make it easier to recycle” at work. SmallBusiness.Co.UK
“Removing recyclable products, such as paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum, from your main waste stream will significantly reduce the amount of impact waste removal costs have on your budget.” TheBoonRoom.com
“For businesses in office settings, striving to create a paper-free workplace can cut costs on supply and waste disposal ends, too.” TheBoonRoom.com
“Having a recycling program in effect doesn’t just create the foundation for an innovative, positive workspace, it also turns loyal employees into brand-loyal customers[…] It can cost your business anywhere from 50-200% percent of the departing employee’s salary trying to find a replacement. Such a large amount of time, money, and effort can be saved by developing employee loyalty through a positive work environment.” TheBoonRoom.com
8: LEVERAGE FINANCES TO SHAPE CHANGE
- Consider the environment when assessing your supply chain. Switching to green procurement encourages and supports other businesses who are making a difference. QuickBooks.Intuit.com
- Investing in your business to reduce the firm’s carbon footprint translates to long-term savings. Fortune
- Use local suppliers to reduce carbon emissions, rather than using international suppliers. QuickBooks.Intuit.com
“Increasingly, climate innovation expenses come in the form of capital expenditures (currently in an environment with very low interest rates), which will end up lowering operating expenditures later. Even more important is the fact that those investments will quickly translate to revenue, creating value and jobs—sustainability for the planet and for the strength of the organization.” QuickBooks.Intuit.com
“When possible, use local suppliers to reduce the need for intercontinental or transoceanic transportation.” QuickBooks.Intuit.com
“Increasingly, climate innovation expenses come in the form of capital expenditures (currently in an environment with very low interest rates), which will end up lowering operating expenditures later. Even more important is the fact that those investments will quickly translate to revenue, creating value and jobs—sustainability for the planet and for the strength of the organization.” Fortune
9: PRESERVE AND EXPAND THE NATURAL WORLD. “Saving the environment may actually help save your business.”
- Add native landscaping to your office building, to reduce flooding risk. Property Wire
- Advocate for replacing parking lots with permeable surfaces to reduce flooding. C40 Knowledge Hub
- Plant trees to shade the area, reducing hot zones in an urban area. EPA
- Sponsor an employee volunteer effort to plant trees or clean the local waterway, or other earth friendly project. Harvard Business Review
"Saving the environment may save your business. USA Today
“Many studies have shown that volunteer programs boost productivity, increase employee engagement, and improve hiring and retention.” Harvard Business Review
10: GO ELECTRIC
Part of the move away from fossil fuels that generate greenhouse gasses involves electrifying your entire organization.
- Replace furnaces and gas-powered water heaters with heat pumps –moving from gas or oil. This is supported by incentives through the Inflation Reduction Act. EnergySage
- Consider replacing your organization’s fleet with electric, or at least hybrid, vehicles. Beverly and Salem Climate Resilient Toolkit for Businesses
- Consider putting solar panels over a parking lot that can be used to charge cars for employees. Lucent Energy
“Building electrification is key to a safe climate future.” GreenBiz
“Building electrification is the most cost-effective way to decarbonize buildings.” GreenBiz
“Electrification allows heating through a number of clean electricity sources.” GreenBiz
“America’s electric grid continues to get cleaner as more solar and wind power is added each year.” NRDC/National Resources Defense Council.
Efforts are underway in “decarbonizing transportation, a sector that is now responsible for about a quarter of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.” ScienceNews.org
Almost no organization can do everything, but every organization can do something. If local action isn’t an option for your business, consider green investing: The UN Climate Convention keeps a portfolio of dozens of projects around the world you can contribute to.
Everything we do makes a difference!