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Going green, or pursuing environmentally sound practices, is the right thing for businesses to do; doing our part to take care of the world around us is what good stewardship is all about. However, going green is not only good for the environment, it is good for business as well. Customers prefer companies that pursue sound environmental practices, as do the communities they are located in. Moreover, many of the actions you take to support more environmentally favorable practices can save your company money in the long run, too. Here are some environmentally favored actions your company could take that can also help to pad your bottom line as well.

Go Paperless

One of the best ways to reduce waste in your company is to go paperless and transform all of your paper-generating activities into digital processes. Eliminating paper can make your business more efficient, adaptive and collaborative; you also can have a considerably smaller impact on the environment at the same time. If you are no longer producing paper, you are likely not creating vast quantities of discarded documents, used toner cartridges, and outmoded printers to consign to the trash or recycling heap. Foregoing all of those items likely saves you a great deal on purchase, replacement, and disposal costs as well.

Use Energy Efficient Lighting

Replace all of your company’s outmoded lights with compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED lighting. Yes, these bulbs are expensive to purchase, but they last for years and produce greater amounts of light at considerably less energy. These bulbs’ lower power requirements, coupled with their long lives, can save you considerable amounts of money over time, too; one study indicated that replacing 20 standard bulbs with 20 LED lights could save you over $3,000 over the lifetime of the bulbs.

Install Energy Efficient Appliances

Like light bulbs, energy efficient appliances use less power, and are better for the environment. You should invest in the best, most energy efficient utility appliances your business can afford. You should also work closely with the government while doing this. The Energy Star program can help you determine the best types of devices and appliances to purchase to be environmentally friendly and energy efficient. Also, by becoming a member of the government’s energy star program, you can clearly signal to your community and customers alike that you care about the environment, and are taking steps to protect it.

Power Down

Installing more energy efficient lights and appliances is great; what’s even better is turning them all off at night or when nobody is using them. Just switching a single computer off, or hibernating it when it is not in use, can save a company up to $50 annually. Similarly, switching off all of your lights and unused devices when you are closed for business can garner your company substantial energy savings as well. It may be difficult to effectively incentivize employees to turn off lights and computers; if that is the case, it may be worth installing timers and motion sensors in your offices, so that devices automatically power off at a certain time, or when there is no consistent movement.

Encourage Green Transportation

One way to help reduce fossil fuels is to incentivize alternative transportation methods for your company and its employees. For instance, you could ensure that your company is bike friendly by installing bike racks where employees can safely store there bicycles, along with a place to change in and out of cycling gear. Additionally, you could also incentivize the use of public transportation; some cities and municipalities may even offer you financial and tax incentives to do this. Finally, your company itself could use these alternative transportation methods, or invest in hybrid vehicles, to reduce fuel costs and decrease environmentally unsound energy consumption practices as well.

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William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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