Many business enterprises hesitate to adopt green practices because they fear it will hurt their bottom line, but with consumers increasingly insisting on buying from ethical and sustainable producers, companies need to start addressing the ‘green’ issue. According to Vital Health Foods’ MD, George Grieve, being eco-conscious can actually save money and bring on board new customers who specifically patronise companies that are proactively green. It doesn’t need to be a grudge spend for businesses, particularly when customers have even been shown to be willing to pay a bit more for a product or service emanating from an environmentally-friendly company.
According to Grieve, although most companies shy away from the idea of ‘going green’ because they do not want to foot the initial investments required to implement a green-aligned business strategy, Vital’s biggest surprise was not only a successful attempt to reduce energy consumption, but the almost immediate, massive cost saving that came with it.
Savings in action
Vital Health Foods has already been able to reduce electricity usage by 12% per month and 15% during peak demands. This translated into a saving of R205 453,80 over 12 months. Vital also captures the waste heat emitted from its air compressors, which is then used to heat water at its factory. This process allows the company to store up to 15 geysers worth of hot water per month which can be used in heating operations. This saved the company R3 600 per month.
Tips on ‘going green’
Here are some simple tips, highlighted by Grieve, on how your business can save money, improve your public image, and enhance efficiency and productivity when implementing a ‘green’ strategy in your business plan.
1. Get an Energy Audit
- An energy audit is an easy way to know exactly what changes you can make to be more energy efficient and save money for your business.
- An energy auditor is a professional who can quickly assess the energy usage of your business.
2. Make energy-conscious investments
- Consider following through on recommended changes from your energy audit report.
- If you are in need of replacing old equipment, consider energy-efficient brands. Energy efficient-approved products are labelled, so you know you’re getting an energy efficient product.
- Replace fluorescent lights with light –emitting diode (LED) lights, since they use significantly less energy than incandescent and fluorescent lights. This will benefit low energy consumption, last longer while affording you great durability and reliability
- If you’re not using a piece of equipment, don’t just turn it off, but unplug it too! This can reduce energy usage by 25%!
3. White is the new Green
- Vital Health foods changed the look of their green roof to a bright sparkling white. The white coating is no ordinary paint, it has a special reflective coating developed from NASA research called Thermoshield which repels heat and sunlight ensuring the heat does not transfer into the building. This way, less air conditioning is used to cool the building and there’s less reliance on refrigeration equipment for machinery when temperatures are soaring outside. The Thermoshield coating also reduces maintenance costs as it slows down the roof’s aging.
4. Decrease water consumption
- Install a solar panel. Even though the initial set up and installation are quite costly, the utilisation of freely available sun power is invaluable.
- Check your business space for leaks. Leaks can be detected by having a periodic shutdown of all water-using facilities and reading the water meter at intervals during the shutdown (For information on how to read your meter, visit: www.lbwater.org).
- Install vacuum and dual flush toilets plus low flow taps.
5. Back to the basics: reduce, reuse, and recycle
- Buy consumables packed in environmentally-friendly, recyclable or recycled packaging.
- Try to avoid wax –coated milk carton, foil lined juice cartons, paper with self adhesive strips, carbon paper and cling wrap.
- Consider transferring newsletters and updates for customers online to save paper.
- Start a scrap paper pile and make sure you print double-sided!