Green Businesses

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From the Wabash to the Ohio River, from the Hoosier National Forest to the Dunes — all across Indiana — local businesses are providing services and making products that make our state cleaner and greener.

Being green goes far beyond recycling cans in the cafeteria and there is great opportunity for businesses in Indiana to grow in their green initiatives. With the proper education, businesses can adopt practices and institute policies that can make our state a greener, healthier place to live, work and play.

The most important part of creating a green workplace is to make it part of the corporate culture. All team members must understand and embrace the company’s commitment to the environment.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Smart Steps to Sustainability: A Guide to Greening Your Small Business is full of tips for small and large businesses.

Also, various Chambers of Commerce in Indiana have green business programs that may help set goals and implement a plan for being green, including Green Business Bloomington and the Indy Chamber Green Business Initiative.

Is your business fostering cleaner water and air, promoting sustainable & local food, investing in clean energy & 21st century transportation, and other green-minded activities? We hope you’ll consider becoming an HEC Green Business Supporter and benefit from our year-round outreach efforts.

Here are ideas to help your business implement new ways to be kinder to our environment:

Waste

  • Do a waste assessment. (How much waste is produced weekly/monthly? What does waste disposal cost you?)
  • Reduce your waste by buying less or buying in bulk.
  • Only print when absolutely necessary.
  • Print double-sided. Change all printer settings if possible.
  • Decrease margins to print more on one page.
  • Reuse scrap paper for note taking.
  • Use electronic billing and invoicing.
  • If you manufacture a consumer product, decrease packaging.
  • Use reusable kitchenware, like mugs, glasses, plates and utensils.
  • Recycle, including paper, cardboard, all metals, plastics, glass and electronics.
  • Compost organic waste, including food scraps, coffee ground, leaves and grass clippings.
  • Strive to be a zero waste business!

Purchasing

  • Choose products with post-consumer recycled content and/or products with environmental certifications (like FSC and Rainforest Alliance).
  • Choose Energy Star appliances and electronics.
  • Choose WaterSense high efficiency plumbing.
  • Choose fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles.
  • Find products manufactured with renewable energy.
  • Choose non-toxic cleaning supplies for the health of employees and the environment.
  • Support local manufacturers and suppliers.
  • Consider the entire life cycle when purchasing products (how was it made, how long will it last, is it natural/organic/reclaimed/recycled/recyclable?)
  • Be sure to research federal and state tax incentives for energy efficient purchases.

Water

  • Install WaterSense toilets, faucets other water-efficient products.
  • Do a water audit and repair leaks.
  • Harvest rain water with a rain barrel or cistern for use in irrigation, vehicle washing and other non-potable water uses.
  • Install a rain garden to control flooding, reduce erosion, minimize irrigation, and add beauty to your property.
  • Consider a green roof, which will help with storm water runoff while saving energy by cooling the building.
  • Landscape with native plants to reduce the need for irrigation and maintenance.
  • Install a pervious pavement parking lot and sidewalks.
  • Don’t illegally dump chemicals and other toxic liquids down the drain or outside.

Energy

  • Seek guidance from Energy Star’s small businesses resources.
  • Conduct an energy audit to get a better understanding of how much energy you currently use and where improvements can be made.
  • Install a programmable thermostat – set the temp about 8-10 degrees higher/lower (depending on the season) when the building is unoccupied.
  • Caulk or cover drafty windows, doors and ducts.
  • Perform routine maintenance on HVAC system, including replacing filters.
  • Add insulation as appropriate. Seek out insulation made using recycled materials.
  • Install sensors or timer on lights and turn off unnecessary lighting.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with more efficient options, like CFL or LED.
  • Maximize natural lighting, which uses less energy and is better for your eyes.
  • Unplug electronics while not in use.
  • Invest in renewable energy, either through your power company or on-site.
  • Replace older or less efficient appliances and electronics with Energy Star appliances and electronics.

Transportation

  • Reduce travel when possible.
  • Allow employees to telecommute as appropriate.
  • Encourage and incentivize public transportation use, carpooling, biking and walking to work.
  • Green your fleet by downsizing, switching to alternative fuel, going or hybrid vehicles.
  • Perform routine maintenance on all vehicles.
  • Make your workplace a no idle zone.

For more information, contact Renee Sweany, Special Projects Manager, at rsweany@hecweb.org.