By Hilary Kusel
We at Green Business Alliance are noticing that many people who reach out to our organization have questions about what’s actually involved in going green. This is a really good sign in our opinion, as the only way to make meaningful strides is to understand the playing field and ultimately have an effective road map to follow.
Our mission at Green Business Alliance is to enable people to “Greenify” their business through the integration of environmental stewardship into their daily practices. Our “Guidelines to Greenify” were designed with the deliberate intent of being straight forward. They are comprised of six categories, which include general business practices, renewable energy certificates, office space, kitchen/breakrooms/bathrooms, outside, copy, printing and supply room.
There are many subtle changes that real estate offices nationwide can make, such as turning off computers, monitors and printers each night, reducing paper usage and implementing office-wide recycling programs. It is our hope that more businesses will assume an attitude that however small they believe their green efforts may be, these actions will have a positive cumulative effect on our environment and are very worthwhile implementing.
A few of the most compelling reasons for a company to Greenify are to benefit the environment, gain a competitive advantage, boost company morale by setting a positive example for employees and lowering expenses by improving efficiencies.
Here are a few tips to begin to Greenify your real estate office:
– Turn off your computer monitors and computers each night. Actually push the button to shut them off.
– Unplug electronics that are used less frequently. Electronic devices consume energy even when turned off. This phenomenon is known as phantom electricity. It can actually cost you a significant amount of money each year. While “not on,” each device or appliance uses small amounts of energy in order to be ready to instantly work when it is switched back to the “on” mode. The simple act of unplugging frequently can save you some money while reducing electricity waste and helping our environment. Start a new habit – unplug!
– Set computer systems to enter standby or hibernate after 30 to 60 minutes of inactivity. Set monitors to enter sleep mode after five to 20 minutes of inactivity.
– Purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (REC). Constellation Energy can help your organization minimize its impact on the environment. Check out www.newenergy.com to receive your free, no obligation quote for RECs.
Should purchasing carbon offsets be a priority for businesses today? We believe that the answer is yes. As referenced above, in the big picture, the cumulative impact will be enormous, although the direct impact today is much harder to quantify. That logic, however, applies to a number of the dimensions of the green movement. Every small step matters and is instrumental from a setting the tone perspective with employees and clients. The bottom line is that purchasing RECs makes good business and environmental sense without breaking the bank.
– Walk or bike whenever possible, it is good for the heart and the environment. I realize this is not a very realistic option when showing a property. If biking or walking is not possible, then try using mass transit. If you are not in a community where that is an option, set-up a carpool with fellow workers or when showing a property. It not only saves on gas, but also makes the commute more enjoyable.
– Start an office-wide recycling program for paper, glass, aluminum and electronics.
In addition to providing the road map to go green, Green Business Alliance’s “Guidelines to Greenify” also provides recognition premiums to Greenified members. Greenified members receive the Greenified Seal for use on their Web site, a custom press release for distribution, placement in the GreenVisibility Directory, as well as Greenified lapel pins, wristbands, window clings and a plaque. Real estate agencies should lead by example, Greenify their practices and be recognized for their efforts in order to differentiate themselves from the competition.
Hilary Kusel is the executive director of the Green Business Alliance, a national firm helping companies “Go Green.” Based in Boca Raton, Fla., the alliance has assumed a leading role in enabling organizations to “Greenify.” Their proprietary Guidelines give specific direction to companies who are looking to implement more environmentally responsible business practices. For more information visit greenbusinessalliance.com.