The Bottom Line for Business



Going green is good for the environment – and for your business. Saving energy and conserving natural resources can help you cut costs, attract new customers, and keep old ones.

 

Rising energy prices, along with water and sewer rates, are adding extra costs to your business.

 

Begin with a few simple strategies to conserve energy and save water, while cutting down toxic chemicals, air pollution, and excess waste.

 

 

Start with the Basics

 

• Save energy by using compact fluorescent light bulbs, available at all major stores. Choose quality brands from a label you recognize. The new LED (light emitting diode) energy-saving lights are a good bet, too.

 

• Save water by fixing leaks promptly. When old fixtures need to be replaced, look for the U.S. EPA’s WaterSense label.

 

• Install a rain barrel at your building. It will provide you with free water for maintenance and irrigation. Rain barrels also save money by helping to prevent flooding on your property. For easy installation instructions, the Rutgers Cooperative Extension (pdf) offers a handy brochure.

 

• Switch to “green” cleaning products that contain fewer toxic chemicals.

 

• Reduce air pollution by cutting down on unnecessary idling.

 

• Make clearly marked recycling bins available for customers and employees.

 

 

Many conventional products contain harsh chemicals that are hazardous to human health. When flushed down drains or disposed in trash, they can get into the environment.

Check with your trade association or with a reputable organization such as Green Seal to find safe alternatives. Green Seal’s website provides an easy-to-use search page for information on paints, cleansers, food packaging, construction materials and more.

There are different ways to define a “green” product. Look for products that:

• Contain less (or no) toxic chemicals.

• Are made from recycled materials.

• Are made from materials that can be recycled or composted (example: disposable plates made from corn-derived material instead of plastic)

• Can be re-configured to fit changes in your business (example: modular office furnishings).

• Conserve energy.

• Save water.

• Use raw materials that are green certified (example: products made with wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council).

For more information, the U.S. EPA offers detailed guidance on green purchasing for government offices as well as businesses, schools and non-profit organizations.

 

Excess waste is keeping your disposal costs higher than they could be.

Opportunities to reduce your waste stream are continuing to grow. Check with the Union County Bureau of Environmental Conservation, 908-654-9889 to make sure your business is up to date.

To see a directory of businesses that recycle dozens of items from asphalt to wood waste, visit the Union County Recycling Markets Directory (pdf).

The New Jersey WasteWise Business Network offers free resources and planning guides to help you shrink waste disposal costs for your business.

In the food service and retailing industries, food scraps and grease can account for more than half the waste stream. This waste can be reclaimed for animal feed, re-used as compost, or even processed into bio-diesel and other fuels.

 

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) helps you focus on proven strategies that achieve major long term savings when constructing or renovating a building. For more information, visit the U.S. Green Building Council.

To avoid building materials that may cause air quality problems, visit the Healthy Building Network.

Ask your landscaping service about converting all or part of a high-maintenance lawn to a low-maintenance “greenscape” that will reduce your use of water, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers – and save you money. For more information, visit the U.S. EPA.

This simple landscaping trick can reduce stormwater runoff and help prevent flooding on your property. A rain garden also cuts outdoor watering costs in dry weather. Rain gardens can be installed in small and large spaces, and on level ground, slopes, and hills alike. The Rutgers Cooperative Extension (pdf) offers a helpful brochure with more information.

The newest twist in water-saving devices is a toilet with two flushers, usually in the form of buttons. One button releases the standard amount of water needed to flush solid waste. The other button releases less, for liquid waste. For more information, visit the U.S. EPA WaterSense program.

This simple landscaping trick can reduce stormwater runoff and help prevent flooding on your property. A rain garden also cuts outdoor watering costs in dry weather. Rain gardens can be installed in small and large spaces, and on level ground, slopes, and hills alike. The Rutgers Cooperative Extension (pdf) offers a helpful brochure with more information.

Learn about recent improvements in technology that could enable your building to take advantage of the earth’s natural heating and cooling properties. In the U.S., about 40,000 residences have geothermal systems installed every year. The U.S. EPA has more information.

New technologies are bringing the cost of solar, wind, recovered waste heat, and other renewable energy sources within the reach of more businesses. For more information, visit the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.


A green roof is covered partly or wholly with grass, herbs, vegetables, perennial flowers, and other light plantings. Green roofs are becoming commonplace – even the U.S. Navy is using them! The insulating soil combines with the greenery for big savings on heating and cooling. Green roofs absorb storm water and help prevent flooding. They also preserve the lifespan of the conventional roof membrane beneath them, which reduces repair and replacement costs.

For more information, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.