Working to be GreenYes, our conservative little Southern Illinois company is as "green" as an endangered tree frog. We have implemented a number of practical and sustainable policies in the last few years that allow us to have net carbon credits that we then contract to sell on the open market each year. We grow fields of wildflowers and plant trees. And we conserve everywhere we can. That said, we are environmentally friendly not because we buy into the theories of such self-serving, gas-bag, fear-mongering, exaggerators (by his own admission) like Al Gore, but because conservation of the Earth and its resources is the right thing to do and is just good business.
We have not done anything fancy or spectacular. Or anything requiring more than a modicum of brains. Or anything that will not pretty much pay for itself in the long run. These are practical, down-home ideas. We hope that sharing these practices with you will spark an idea, inspire a process, or start an investigation into how you too can reduce your consumption of our precious resources and (I cringe at this phrase)* reduce your carbon footprint.
HERE IS OUR TOP 10 LIST OF ENERGY SAVING AND GREEN LIVING MOVES
1. REPLACE YOUR OLD LIGHTING
We use florescent lighting throughout all our buildings and warehouses. We have installed all new high efficiency T-8 lighting fixtures and lamps in our main building to replace the old T-12 lighting. These new TCLP Compliant lamps contain 71% less mercury than the T-12s which lessens there disposal impact. They are 69% brighter, which means fewer lamps are needed. You can replace four cool white 4-foot bulbs with two of these Vision Plus bulbs and have equivalent lighting. ( We used 5000 K, 3480 Lumens, #W354A lamp bulbs from WSI Lighting. And as an added feature, these florescent lamps have AEP Safety Afterglow. After the lights are turned-off or lose power, blue phosphorous glows for about 15 minutes to allow safe exit. The most efficient lighting is the relatively new T-5 lamps, but during our decision-making process in planning we discovered that the market penetration of these T-5s is very small because the small increase in savings is not cost effective and would take many years to payout. During such a long payout period, there are sure to be even greater improvements in efficiency. We try to avoid this early adopter trap.
2. INSTALL LIGHT SWITCH TIMERS OR MOTION SENSORS IN AREAS INFREQUENTLY USED
3. USE TANKLESS HOT WATER HEATERS
These simple to install units provide hot water where it is needed when it's needed without having to continuously maintain a supply of hot water in a large tank. Tankless heaters are especially efficient in a business environment where water use is infrequent and in far-flung locations. Put one of these close to where the need for hot water is used as in each restroom location, and you will not experience the water and energy loss due to hot water traveling long distances through the pipes from a remote tank heater.
4. REPLACE YOUR THERMOSTATS WITH PROGRAMMABLE MODELS
These are relatively inexpensive (starting at about $50.00) and will pay for themselves in the first year of use. Our main building is easily zoned since we have individual heating and/or cooling in each section. So, we can program the thermostat in each section to function according to the demands of that particular section. Basically, we try to climate control only occupied spaces based on the time of day and whether the space is being used.
5. BUY SURPLUS, OVERRUNS, MISPRINTS, AND SECOND USE PACKAGING
Almost all suppliers and manufacturers of packaging will have excess or problem stock they want to move along and recoup what they can of their cost. Buying these packaging surpluses often involves purchasing in large quantities because the goal of the seller is often to regain valuable warehouse space. But, the savings is substantial. Ask your supplier what he wants to get rid of and offer to take the entire quantity.
6. TURN YOUR JUNK MAIL, ETC. INTO PACKAGING
We purchased a monster strip shredder. They are about $12,000.00 new, and it took me over a year to find one, but I bought a nice used unit for much less. We now can shred all our non-sensitive (no privacy issues) and clean paper trash to make packing for our shipping department. We shred all our junk mail, magazines, and non-sensitive office paper. We no longer buy new rolls of packing paper. This has been a complete replacement. We still micro shred all sensitive paper and have to dispose of it, as we have figured no way to use the resulting shred which is almost like dust.
7. TURN ALL CARDBOARD SCRAP AND RETURNED BOXES INTO PACKING MATERIAL
We purchased a PacMaster Cardboard Shredder/Packing Material Machine. This thing converts waste cardboard and boxes into a sort of cushion material that for the most part (and with some personnel training) replaces bubble wrap. The unit can precut the cardboard into convenient sizes and then convert then. I have this machine figured at a three year payout.
8. INSTALL LIGHT COLORED ROOFING
If you are building new, use white metal roofing, aluminum roofing, white shingles, or white hypelon (in place of black rubber). If repairing and maintaining, cover the old black tar roof with white acrylic roof coating or asphaltic coating with an aluminum surface. Every roof we own is white and it pays.
9. INSULATE ANY SPACE YOU ARE TRYING TO CLIMATE CONTROL
This is stating the obvious. Good insulation not only helps control heat flow, but also helps control the flow of moisture in your controlled space. When we added insulation to our new shipping section, we found that it is really important to do your homework on the various methods, efficiencies and costs. When the space you are insulating is quite large the cost and efficiency is very important to the time it will take to recoup your investment in energy savings, You may want to use a combination of materials to achieve a super valued effect. For instance, you cannot beat the ability os foam insulation to prevent air infiltration around beams and complicated structures. But it is much more expensive in R Value than conventional pink fiberglass whether it is in batts or blown-in. Foam board is a good value, but limited in where it can be used in a practical manner. We used all three and achieved a great result at a good price.
10. INSTALL HIGH EFFICIENCY HEATING AND AIR CONDITIONING
This will cost you. Work with a reputable contractor to determine your needs. Get more than one opinion and bid. Insist on heating units that are 95% AFUE if they are gas. Do your own homework on the cooling units if you can. The SEER rating on air conditioning determines the efficiency and subsequently the cost. The is a cross-over point at which the efficiency simply costs too much to be practical. (like the high cost of some hybrid cars that will not save enough gas to get you even for 12 years) For us , 14 SEER was the stopping point. 16 SEER simply was not practical. High efficiency scroll compressors, 2-stage compressors, and the new R-22 environmentally friendly refrigerants are other factors to research and probably insist on when buying.
Okay, so this is number 11. And it is so obvious. But, it is not hard. If you do not want to keep the financial rewards of recycling, let your employees take the initiative. Employees in different departments here at D. Lawless Hardware set up their own systems of collecting aluminum cans from the pop machines years ago. Each of them then donates the cans to their church or local charity.
*Let's assume for a moment that there was this element that formed the basis of all life on Earth. Them imagine it becoming the Destroyer and that you are the cause of it. A little arrogant, don't you think?