Going green can require substantial restructuring to current day-to-day operations, making adjustments to adopt certain practices not only potentially costly, but overwhelming. This can be particularly true in the case of small industrial businesses, where altering production can create some difficulties. Yet, it’s not impossible. You start small, implementing and adopting green in one area. Once you see the overall maximized energy efficiency, once your bottom line has realized the benefits of operating a greener environment, you can logically build in that direction throughout the business.
An excellent place to start is the way the business is running its warehouse. There are conveyor systems and pallet handling equipment and other logistics that are constantly in use, where even minor alterations can make a substantial difference. You need to examine three main areas that can definitely cut the bottom line while simultaneously enhancing your efforts toward social responsibility. Those areas are reducing, repurposing and recycling.
There aren’t many warehouses where operations couldn’t use some type of reduction in overall consumption. Any minimization can help the budget and environment, especially as energy costs continue to rise. Options like motion sensors that illuminate areas only when they are in use and charging forklifts off-peak when energy costs are lower make for excellent solutions. There’s also the reduction in packing materials. Advancements in this area can make for lower shipping costs and decreasing energy and power used to move materials and items. Biodegradable packing materials can also be instrumental.
Wood pallets and totes are items that are constantly reused in warehouse production. Finding other ways to keep items and products viable is definitely a step in the green direction. Returnable packaging is becoming a solid alternative. A lot of packaging is reusable, reducing both the amount of packaging needed and the amount spent to replenish the supply.
Reducing waste is a primary environment concern. Packaging and packing materials that have outlived their purpose should definitely be shipped to recycling facilities. There should also be appropriate and responsible disposal of oil, drums, batteries and chemicals. Various types of containers have the potential for extended lifecycles. Recyclable packing is becoming a popular option that cuts down on waste and helps save money.
Look for resources in the community that provide or utilize recyclable products. This can include schools, churches and even companies that deal primarily with paper, plastic and scrap metal. Investigate and study, pinpointing areas and processes where you can produce sound decisions regarding social responsibility.
Great Steps to Going Green
On average, the typical warehouse can say up to 40 percent of its energy costs is lighting. If you invest in LED lighting, you can save almost 50 percent in lighting costs. They are to a large extent more energy efficient than fluorescent lighting and will undoubtedly trim the bottom line in energy bills.
Ambient light and motion sensors are another excellent green solution. Motion sensors ensure energy is conserved by being utilized only when a specific area is in use. Ambient light sensors are capable of adjusting light depending on the availability of natural light in real time.
Energy efficient insulation is critical. You can control heating, but it’s just as important to have the best equipped insulation available. The wrong type and you lose energy and money. A little research will reveal the many energy proficient solutions in the field of insulation. Among the more prominent types is blanket insulation, loose fill or spray applied, reflective barriers and rigid insulation. Each has its unique characteristics and your contractor can help you decide which best suits your situation.
When it comes to materials, each is given a rating scale of “R” values. The higher that rating is the better the insulation. The most common and environmentally friendly materials for insulation are fibre glass, mineral wood materials, cellulose and natural fibre materials. You should get more information about these materials. Again, a good contractor can help you decide which material and insulation should be utilized in your warehouse.
Energy efficient heating is considered one of the easiest paths for going green. The typical flat warehouse roofing is ideal for solar paneling. This is indeed a substantial investment, but it’s also one that will pay for itself in a few years and, as heating costs go up, will promise long lasting savings. If your business is already taking advantage of solar energy, employ accessories like programmable thermostats. They will regulate temperatures, minimizing heat when the business is closed. Put in industrial fans. They can circulate cool air in the summer and hot air in the winter.
If building an entirely new facility, you definitely want to make it as energy efficient as possible. That means a lot of these green options may already be on the drawing board. A renovation might also be a good time to consider eco-friendly and cost saving alternatives. Either way, third party certification programs can be a critical asset in the proceedings. They support design, construction and operations that maintain a high level of green performance.
The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a significant leader in this field. Their inspections and certifications will focus on what areas your energy saving efforts should lean in. They will definitely offer the most sensible avenues for saving energy and money in the long term. These certifications and the execution of well regarded green solutions could also make you eligible for certain tax incentives. That’s a conversation to have with your accounting department.
For small businesses, adopting green procedures can have a vast impact on production. Yet, the long term rewards should not be overlooked. You can slowly build efficiency throughout your business by taking small steps, like starting in your warehouse. Simple adjustments to lighting, heating systems and the ways you recycle, reuse and reduce your waste can make fundamental differences. Once you have realized the rewards of bringing that facility into a greener environment, it will be easy to see why you should expand the initiative for the entire business. It may take a little time, but the long lasting performance will definitely be worth it.