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10 Ways to Reduce the Corporate Carbon Footprint

written by: Sidharth Thakur•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 6/8/2011

Go Green – that’s the buzzword! Is your business following it? Here are ten tips to help your business in reducing their corporate carbon footprint and join the green wave.

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    There is no denying that corporations are the major contributors leaving their carbon footprint, causing environmental damage. Thankfully, many corporations have become environmentally aware, and have realized their social responsibility of reducing their carbon footprint. The tips provided in this article will work equally well for most businesses, irrespective of their size and sector.

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    Tips for Reducing Corporate Carbon Footprint

    Developing an environmental strategy is the best way to begin your environmental sustainability mission. Put together an environmental strategy with clear-cut, achievable and measurable goals. List the objectives as well as the means to achieve the objectives. To write specific objectives you may need to audit your company’s current carbon footprints. Next, you need to assemble together a task force that will take on the responsibility of achieving the objectives. Look for volunteers who do not just possess the knowledge or skills required for this mission, but are also passionate about bringing in this green change.

    With that done, your company will be in a better position to follow these tips on reducing corporate carbon footprints.

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    Recycle

    That’s the magical word that every environmentally conscious company should include in its company policies and procedures. This one single practice can cut down your corporate carbon footprints by a whooping 20-40%. Recycle as much of your office waste as you can - paper, plastic and glass can easily be recycled. Once you take a closer look, you’ll identify several other wastes that can be recycled. Set up collection points for all the recyclable waste. Define a policy for each type of waste, and get all your office employees to buy into this policy.

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    Reuse

    That’s another magical word. There are lots of things that can be reused a couple of times before you finally either dispose them, or send them for recycling. For instance – used packaging material like cartons can be used again if they’re not completely damaged, or waste paper from the printer can be used for rough work if the reverse side of the paper is still unused. Paper clips can be used in place of staplers, since staples go to waste after single use.

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    Cut-Down the Energy Consumption

    The production of electricity releases tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. So, get your people into the habit of switching off office equipment, electronics and lights when they’re not in use. Not only will this help you to reduce your corporate carbon footprint, but will also shrink your energy bills and save you money. When possible let natural daylight replace the internal lighting. Set your computers to automatically hibernate when they are idle for more than half an hour.

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    Make Wiser Purchases

    Whenever buying office supplies look for alternatives that can be reused, even if they cost you a bit more they will still save you a lot of money over their lifetime, while at the same time helping you to keep a check on your carbon emissions. When buying electronicsReducing Carbon Footprints  do check for the energy star ratings, these can cut down your energy consumption by as much as 50%. When buying utilities and other equipment, look for products that are more durable, or that have multiple uses. For instance – having an all-in-one printer will be more environmental friendly than having a separate fax, printer and scanner device.

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    Upgrade the Technology

    If you’re still using paper mail for all communication then its time to upgrade to emails, messengers and collaborative software. That will cut down your stationery consumption by more than 50%. If you’re still hung up with CRT monitors, replacing them with LCDs will bring in some major savings on your energy bills. Traveling isn’t always needed for attending meetings, so economize and do your bit for the environment by adopting videoconferencing and teleconferencing. Likewise, there are other areas where adopting the latest technology can help you in reducing corporate carbon footprints, and these are more likely to vary from one organization to another.

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    Turn Down the Air-conditioning

    Changing the settings of your office’s air conditioning system by just one degree can save more than five percent in energy costs. During summer the cooling can be set a degree or two higher without causing any real discomfort – as it is most employees are dressed in summer clothes, so there’s no need to cool the office too much. Likewise during winter, the settings can be kept two degrees lower, to cut down energy consumption. Another thing that can be done to reduce a company's carbon footprint is to have air-conditioning controls in every room, so that air-conditioning can be turned off in rooms which are not in use. Keeping a check on the insulation leeks will also prevent loss of energy.

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    Greener Traveling Options

    Whenever planning business travel, opt for rail or road travel as against air travel, if possible. Don’t let the office vehicles run around unnecessarily and just for one single person. Have your office vehicles serviced in-time to ensure that they don’t consume fuel in excess. Encourage your employees to commute using public transport, or to opt for car pools, for coming traveling to and from work.

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    Prefer Recycled Supplies

    Every document need not be printed on virgin paper – recycled paper is equally good for most uses. Get your office stationery made with recycled paper. Using recycled packaging material is another way to promote recycling. Opting for office equipment made from recycled plastic will help you in reducing your corporate carbon footprints. Another advantage of buying supplies made from recycled materials is their cost effectiveness.

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    Check Your Stationery Consumption

    Are all the documents and their multiple copies actually needed? Can a single document replace two or more documents? If you closely examine your document flow you may be able to see that many of the documents or forms are completely useless. They are maybe being duplicated for no reason, or it could be that two or more documents can be merged into one. For this you need to work on information flow and the document control procedures. This can considerably reduce the consumption of stationery in your office.

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    Check Your Supplier Chain

    Why not insist on working with suppliers who have similar carbon emission control policies? Look for suppliers who are using greener processes and who are environmentally conscious. Also, where possible, give preference to local suppliers, to cut down carbon footprints emanating from transportation of supplies. Also, ensure that the supplies are delivered in reusable packaging which can then be sent back to the suppliers to be used for repeat orders in the future.

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    In addition to these ten tips, there are a lot of other things that can be done to reduce a company's carbon footprint. To learn more about these options, please refer to the following websites:

    • www.envirowise.gov.uk
    • http://www.epa.gov/
    • http://www.carbondioxidecontrol.com/
    • http://www.energy.gov/energyefficiency/index.htm

    Image by: Sidharth Thakur