Green business practices are the adoption of environmentally sustainable and eco-friendly policies and practices. The concept started off as an ethical initiative to mitigate the effects of drawing from the Earth's resources, and since then, provide companies with many advantages such as economic viability, low cost of ownership of computing devices, improved system performance and use, and compliance with social, ethical, and even legal responsibilities.
Eco-Friendly Equipment and Systems
A major component of green business practices is green computing. Green computing refers to the design, manufacture, use, and disposal of IT related equipment such as computers, servers, monitors, printers, storage devices, and networking and communications systems in an environmentally friendly manner.
One of the best green business practices are the use of “Energy Star" monitors, desktops, laptops, printers, and other devices. Such devices power-down to a low power state when not in use reducing energy by 60 to 70 percent, and run cooler, lasting longer.
Most electronic appliances such as monitors, printers, modems, routers, and WiFi access points consume some power even in “sleep" mode. Switching off and unplugging such appliances when not in use saves energy. A good device that helps in this direction is the “Smart Strip" power strip that senses the amount of power computer peripherals use, and automatically shuts off peripherals when the computer shuts down, to prevent peripherals from drawing idle current.
Third-party power management programs such as Data Synergy PowerMAN and Snap Verdiem Surveyor allow central configuration of power management, especially useful for large businesses with many computers.
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One popular green business practice is periodic energy audits to plug energy leakages. Such energy audits can identify ways to plug energy losses and reduce energy consumption, recommend best ways to operate equipment, and suggest best green computing tips to reduce carbon footprints.
Some best green computing tips include:
- Performing computer related tasks such as printing in contiguous, intensive blocks of time, to leave hardware off at other times and eliminating energy lost to warm up the device for each instance of operation.
- Removing unnecessary fans and drives from the computers to reduce energy waste in operating them.
- Centralizing and sharing devices such as printers for optimal usage and reducing waste and unneeded inventory.
Paper accounts for about 35 percent of total waste and the production of paper puts a severe strain on the Earth’s resources, and one good green business practice is a shift to a paperless office or digital records. Development of a robust database and electronic record management depository, and the use of electronic records and electronic modes of communication over paper records and communication helps reduce carbon footprints significantly. Software such as DocuSign or e-signatures allows placing signatures on digital records, overcoming the major drawback of digital records.
The best green businesses practices adopt a means to achieve paperless transactions such as sending electronic invoices and receipts, receiving electronic payments, issuing pay slips, internal memos, external correspondence, and maintaining non-statutory accounting records on a purely electronic basis as part of its green business strategies.
Best green practices when printing becomes inevitable include use of sustainable eco-friendly paper, setting printer or copier to print on both sides of the page, and printing in economy mode to use less ink.
The best green companies are those that incorporate green business practices in their polices and inculcate such a spirit through their values. The most apparent manifestation of this is adopting recycling as a company policy.
One good method of recycling is creating a central depository to direct all items not in use. The depository can evaluate each product and select, for instance, to refill a cartridge, rewrite a CD, or send an unrecoverable hard disk to the e-waste recycler, all after compiling requirements from various sections and departments.
One man's waste is another man’s treasure, and “free-cycling," or giving away waste to someone who would make good use of it is another good policy rather than simply throwing away the waste.
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Telecommuting and Teleconferencing
Transportation is the single biggest contributor to an individual’s and organization’s green footprint and as such, telecommuting and teleconferencing that eliminate physical travel from the scheme of things, ranks as the biggest and most popular green business practice.
The deployment of green computing business strategies such as telecommuting or working from home, and teleconferencing instead of traveling to attend meetings provides many benefits such as better productivity and a better work-life balance, besides lower carbon footprints. The origins of telecommuting in modern times trace back to the Clean Air Act of the 1980s, a legislation that forced companies to take steps to curb vehicle pollution levels.
Companies can extend the drive to go green by using eco-friendly material in their offices and products. Examples include eco-friendly flooring options made from renewable or recycled materials, sustainable fabrics made from hemp or bamboo for window coverings, and bamboo lengths for curtain rods. Extending the concept further to designing LEED certified buildings, incorporating sustainable and green features in building architecture, investing in solar and wind power wherever possible, and other initiatives are all best green business practices.
Companies would also do well to package their products with recycled or eco-friendly packaging materials, and use organic supplies such as tree-less paper whenever possible.
Companies that prosper in today’s age are those that remain serious about learning and developing initiatives. One good green business practice is to incorporate awareness of green computing and other standards, ways to reduce carbon footprints, and latest news and developments regarding the environment as part of such learning initiatives.
The best green business practices comes from companies whose corporate culture reflects sustainable growth as a central feature, and where all dimensions of business practices reflect the approach toward sustainable growth. Such companies promote green business strategies and initiatives in the society, and look to associate with companies reflecting similar values.