Small Investments Pay Off Big With Green Energy For Small Companies

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Here are eight simple steps to a greener office from Rackwise, Inc's experts in "greening" the work place. They’ll also help to reduce carbon footprint.

Green software effectively allows a company to plan and manage data centers and computing ecosystems to assure the highest levels of reliability

Economic downturns often sharpen a company’s focus on cost savings, efficiency and lowering the expenses associated with running a company. It’s a great idea in theory, but it isn’t always easy to take the first steps toward a greener office and more efficient operations.

So, how can businesses demonstrate good corporate citizenship to customers, employees, and communities?

Most know a bit about green energy, but many might not be aware of all the ways companies can live "green." Green energy can be used very easily and can be readily implemented into all areas of the business. From office costs to data center efficiency, investing in green energy has massive potential for savings.

A broad range of technology improvements and best practices are readily available. Every year, more and more companies adopt procedures for saving money and costs through "greening.” Incentive-based programs have become more popular as managers look to reward employees by helping to bring costs down.

Being "green" means more than just turning off the lights. It also means utilizing services and software that are specially designed to monitor and manipulate energy use. In offices with data centers, not only is it important to use the right equipment, it's critical to implement the necessary software to ensure optimal use of that equipment. Software like the DCiM suite from Rackwise makes it easy to plan and implement the most efficient data center for a company’s needs. They’re an industry leader in asset and resource management software. Guy Archbold, Rackwise's CEO, commented on the necessity for software to help make company's more green by saying it is "essential so that data center managers and IT professionals can effectively plan and manage data centers and computing ecosystems to assure the highest levels of reliability, discover hidden capacity, and enable efficiencies to continually optimize IT operations and costs.”

Don’t assume that green energies are too expensive or time consuming. While initial costs can be high, most companies realize a huge savings at the end of the day. Add to this, most states offer companies tax incentives for their investment in green energies. Initially, things like better weather proofing and efficient lighting all decrease the relative operating costs, but the subsequent energy bills quickly take a large bite out of the costs to “green.”

Here are eight steps to a greener office, many of which of are merely small steps to get started. They’ll also help to reduce carbon footprint.

Minimize Paper Use:

It's surprising how severe the paper-wasting epidemic has become—and how wide-spread it is for businesses both big and small. Look for ways a company can reduce the amount of paper that comes in and out of the door. Simple things like setting printers to automatically print double-sided helps to establish a consciousness for “green” in the office. The goal is to incorporate “green thinking” into the economy culture.

Most employees print copies without thinking, but encourage employees to only print documents when it’s absolutely necessary. The goal is to instill an “electronic” culture from the start. Create and use electronic filing systems and utilize PowerPoint presentations rather than using packets of paper.

Make Energy a Priority

It starts by encouraging good habits in employees and helping them to see the benefits of saving electricity in the office. When a conference room isn’t occupied, the lights should be turned off. Electronics should be unplugged from outlets when they’re not in use. Many electrical devices—like coffee pots---draw hidden power from outlets even when they are switched to the “off” position. Power strips allow turning off everything at once at the end of the day. Power strips can even be purchased that sense when appliances are not being used and shut down automatically.

Learn to Reuse

We frequently throw reusable things away, like paper plates and utensils. So, the idea is to think smart. Implement "reuse" policies as standard practice by encouraging the use of ceramic mugs and plates in place of kitchen paper or plastic products. Have people bring travel mugs to the office and reuse cardboard boxes and repurpose used paper for note taking. Interestingly, some companies sell waste items. Potential buyers can be found at waste exchanges. Some markets are also managed by non-profits or state and local governments. The Web is a great place to find potential buyers.

Recycling is Key

If recycling is encouraged by stocking the building with handy recycle bins, the battle is half over. Place recycle bins in convenient locations—like hallways and conference rooms. Obvious items are cardboard and plastic bottles, but many items might not be aware of are also acceptable, like magazines and envelopes. Check with the city’s official website to see what items are included in their recycling program. Paper and packaging make up almost one-third of solid waste in a landfill. Look for ways to repurpose outdated servers and machines before buying replacements. It’s a great way to save natural resources and reduce trash pickup. Keep in mind that in many areas in the United States, it is the law to recycle certain materials.

Monitor The Temperature

Install smart temperature controls, using “free-cooling” techniques like outside air or reused water for cooling. It’s possible to redesign the way in which power is distributed to reduce unnecessary energy loss. This may mean working with the energy provider, but most energy companies have divisions whose sole purpose is to find energy saving strategies for homeowners and companies. “Smart thermostats” learn from the behavior of a home or an office, and allow the control of the climate remotely. They even make it easy to show the energy consumption in real-time, and adjust themselves without any help---all based on ambient conditions like humidity.

Be a Purist when Purchasing Appliances, Electronics, and Devices

When replacing appliances and electronics, look for certified energy-efficient appliances for replacements, like Energy Star qualified products. This simple process can add up to significant savings. They may cost more at the outset, but the payback is well worth the upfront costs. In many areas, rebates or tax credits are available for the purchase of more efficient appliances.

Renewable Energy is Key

Renewable energy is energy that is green or created from resources other than fossil fuels. It includes solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. The good news is that opportunities for small businesses to implement renewable energy technologies are now widely available and more realistic than ever before. While there are up-front costs when installing renewable technologies, they ensure energy costs remain constant and predictable. Solar technology like photovoltaic cells convert sunlight into electricity and can often sell back any excess energy. Solar hot water heaters use sun to heat water, and solar building design optimizes exposure to the sun’s warmth. And the good news is that most of these solar technologies can be retrofitted into existing buildings.

Review Transportation Reality

It’s important to have a good idea of the needs of the company and its transportation habits. How can one reduce the miles traveled—whether it’s the company van or employees that commute? Encourage public transportation by offering to help cover employee’s fare or offering a prize to those who commute regularly and can show how they rack up their public transportation miles. Research ways to cut down on travel in the company---like asking them to consider biking of walking to work.


If it's a data center, this is an important consideration for reducing carbon footprint. Telecommuting allows certain employees to work from home, reducing miles traveled on the road, time missed from employees dealing with weather or sick children, and the number of commuters on the road. Technology allows employees to be monitored for work habits and can help reduce office--reducing energy and overhead costs.

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