Investments in renewable energy and efficiency provide opportunities for business owners to reduce costs and improve their bottom line. Additionally, when commercial energy users cut usage and invest in efficiency, emissions reductions can be achieved.
Focusing on energy efficiency can be as simple as turning up or down—depending on the season— the thermostat in the office by 10-15 degrees when no one is around at night, insulating workspaces with energy efficient windows and doors, and installing LED or other energy saving light bulbs. Switching off lights when not in use, either manually or through automatic sensors, can also improve efficiency, along with encouraging employees to turn off all their equipment at the end of the day.
Businesses can help reduce waste by reviewing their presentation of products to ensure they’re not over-packaged, converting paperwork to digital if at all possible, and only printing documents if necessary. When printing, use recycled paper and the two-sided and save-ink functions on the printer. Businesses are also encouraged to create a recycling program for cans, plastic, and glass.
Addressing fuel and travel, business owners can encourage employees to bike, walk, or carpool instead of driving their own vehicle, or allow them to work remotely from home occasionally or when it makes sense. If the workplace has a fleet of vehicles, use the most energy-efficient models possible, such as electric cars or hybrid vehicles. Also, reassess business travel requirements and consider video conferencing instead of air travel.
By taking measures to improve energy efficiency, reduce waste, and address fuel/travel, rural entrepreneurs can help build resiliency in the face of our changing climate.
Kayla Bergman is policy manager for the Center for Rural Affairs. Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action-oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.