Nowadays, when a business goes green, it's not just about doing something positive for the environment. It's done with the understanding that having a sustainable and responsible workplace pays dividends for everyone associated with the organization through improving the space in which people live their lives and do their business. Now more than ever, companies are trying to find ways to create eco-friendly workspaces, knowing that when a business works in harmony with the natural world, the workers, management, and most certainly the community it serves all reap the rewards of that prudent choice. Here are seven reasons to invest in an ecologically healthy working environment.
The most obvious reason for a business to go green is to protect the planet as a whole. A stumbling block for that process is that oftentimes owners and managers fail to understand the local effects of global change. They don't see how doing something good for the global environment can be beneficial on the personal level in their own workplace. In truth, the energy you use is often locally generated by sources such as oil or coal that can have a negative impact on air quality in the same region. According to worldwide studies, air pollution can actually be attributed to the cause of around 9% of deaths globally.
One of the most straightforward changes that your business can make, therefore, in going green is to alter the source of its energy. There are a range of clean energy options for a business to choose from, including using electric vehicles for company transportation or purchasing green energy from the grid, which is possible in most states. Installing solar panels on the roof of a property has become a popular choice, as the efficiency of solar power has skyrocketed over the past decade. If you do install solar panels on your building, remember to have a solar battery installed to ensure a continuous supply of power when the sun isn't shining. The important takeaway is that by making these changes, you'll not only be making the global environment healthier, you'll be changing the quality of life in your own backyard.
Nowadays, people are more health conscious than ever, especially regarding how quickly illnesses can spread indoors. The idea of "sick building syndrome" has been around for a long time, but the recent health crisis has brought it into clear focus. Chemical contaminants from volatile organic compounds (VOC) get into the air from upholstery, adhesives and copying machines. Biological contaminants like bacteria and mold can breed in pipes, air ducts and poorly maintained humidifiers. Viruses can spread like wildfire when people who are already in poor health are crammed together in cubicle farms. Buildings are often sealed in order to save energy (which is good) but this practice cuts air circulation, making them less healthy. So what can be done?
One of the best low-cost chemical air purifiers is and always has been plants. Not only do they absorb carbon dioxide, thereby reducing your business's carbon footprint; they play a role in removing chemical contaminants from the air which pose a clear and present danger to the health of everyone in the office. A NASA experiment in 1989 discovered that cancer-causing chemicals like benzene and formaldehyde can be removed from the air by several different houseplant varieties. Gerbera daisies are especially effective at this task. Chlorophytum comosum (spider plants) are also great at absorbing carcinogens. Inform yourself of these natural, biological life hacks, and you'll keep your workplace both cleaner and safer.
Speaking of vegetation, something as seemingly innocuous as placing broadleaf plants on a desk is a science-backed mood booster. Part of this has to do with the role that plants play in humidity regulation, but the greater effect is purely psychological. We need a connection to nature. Humans are a part of nature of course, but we lose perspective on that when we feel trapped inside our own artificial constructs. It shouldn't be surprising that studies have shown productivity increases of up to 15% can be affected simply by adding greenery to a room.
Going green won't just make your employees happy. It's emerging as a must-have for consumers. A few years ago, a groundbreaking survey revealed that 88% of consumers want brands to actively help them to make a difference in their environment. That's right, customers are demanding that businesses take the lead in the making of a better world. If you haven't already guessed, those massive numbers mean that some of those sustainability-loving people are already probably working at your business and casting a critical eye on internal practices. Make sure that your sustainability efforts are publicized on your company website to let potential customers see your position clearly.
It takes more than savvy customers to keep a business functioning. Having a top-quality talent pool working for your organization is critical to success. That new generation of talented workers and entrepreneurs is all but requiring that the businesses they work for go green. Even logistical choices that seem small, such as using recycled paper or offering organic food selections in the break room, are highly visible to the people who work in your company every day, and will serve to reinforce the message that your business is taking objective, measurable steps to put its practices in line with its ideals.
Investing in sustainable practices is a money-saver. Something as simple as switching from traditional incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or halogen incandescent bulbs can cut your energy usage by 25% to 80% according to government data. Another point to remember is that a number of federal, state and local incentives exist for switching to clean energy in particular. In addition, green building incentives focused specifically on industrial and commercial properties are being implemented by city and county governments in order to build momentum for the drive to modernize infrastructure, as well as to let business owners know that they're part of a collaborative, supportive network of like-minded entrepreneurs.
Having a vision for your company that everyone involved with it can believe in together is vital to the success of a business. If your employees can't see a reason to be a part of your company that transcends the profits made by management, turnover rates will be enormous. It's not enough that employees and visitors see the signs of a healthier workplace; management has to write these goals of sustainability and responsibility into the very fabric of the company's mission. Be authentic. Be empathetic. It benefits everyone from the top down.
Making your business ecologically sound may seem like an expensive proposition at the outset. It's true that re-tooling everything from where you get your power to the architecture that surrounds you can be a bit daunting. The fact that it can easily be made to pay off, however, is a proven fact. Not only can you actually make money from going green, the benefits in quality of life and productivity will be felt across every dimension of your enterprise. The bottom line is that the choice between success and sustainability is a false one. With a bit of intelligent planning, your organization can have the best of both worlds and help the whole world.
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