Rising energy prices and worries about the environment have made green business practices a hot topic. For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking to remain competitive, going green often makes business sense.
Rising energy prices and worries about the environment have made green business practices a hot topic. For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking to cut operating costs and remain competitive, going green often makes business sense, writes Erin Nelson, SME marketing director at computer retailer Dell.
Knowing where to begin to reduce your carbon footprint can be daunting. Respondents in a recent survey, conducted by Ipsos-MORI on behalf of British Gas Business, estimated that SMEs spent an average of 8.3 per cent of their turnover on energy costs but 32 per cent of respondents felt they lacked information on how to make their businesses more energy efficient.
A good place to start is with office equipment, which is the fastest-growing area of energy consumption for businesses. On average, offices waste £6,000 each year by leaving equipment on over weekends and bank holidays, according to environmental group The Carbon Trust. However, while being environmentally smart in the office can start with switching to energy-efficient lightbulbs and switching off PCs and monitors, it must also extend beyond these basics.
Here are some tips to help you reduce costs and ensure your business is doing its bit for the environment.
Begin with education
Train staff to incorporate energy-saving practices into their daily routine – their actions will be the biggest factor in implementing a successful energy-saving strategy. For example, encourage them to switch off their monitors whenever they are away from their desks for extended periods.
Go easy on the printer
Avoid unnecessary printing where possible. Additionally, default printers to print double sided and do the same for photocopiers.
Consider virtual working methods which allow employees to work from home and utilise ‘hot desks’ when in the office. This can cut down the amount of office space and furniture required and the energy used.
An initial investment in video conferencing facilities could cut long-term travel costs and reduce your company’s carbon footprint.
Choose the right hardware
Where possible, choose energy-efficient IT equipment that will be more cost effective in the long run.
Legislation such as WEEE and the Landfill Directive now makes even the smallest companies responsible for recycling their waste. Recycling, reselling or donating end-of-life computer equipment can help your business avoid financial penalties, and if it’s in sufficiently good condition, your second-hand hardware might even generate a bit of cash. For more information see www.dell.com/recycling
Automate energy saving
Power management software is becoming more widely available so look at how it can help your business. It can remotely switch computers off and on and automatically saves open documents.