Very often we talk about what households can do to be more sustainable – reduce energy use and increase efficiency, save water etc. The situation is not really any different for business. One way to get started to do an audit.
Environmental or sustainability audits are useful for businesses with large bills for energy, water or waste. An environmental audit can help:
- make long-term savings to energy or water, or reduce waste. Example: printing firm switches to waterless inks and now uses only 1/50th of the water they once used
- find unexpected ways to save money by recommending changes in behaviour. A good audit will take a close look at your business and suggest changes to workplace behaviours
- you to be more sustainable and create new marketing opportunities with other businesses or consumers. This can include getting formal recognition or accreditation.
It is also possible to institute computerised tracking of energy and water usage once the audit is completed. Before you hire an auditor, if possible, ask to see case studies on a similar business to help you decide on their approach and successes.
Sustainability Victoria has done a lot of work with schools through the ResourceSmart program in the area of energy and water and not dissimilar to many business operators they have found many ways to save money in the energy, water and waste bills. What we often find that is that the person who pays these bills does not spend a lot of time analysing them – after all they are from reputable suppliers so should be right. But that doesn’t mean you should not scrutinise them – because sometimes things do not work as well as you think. Solar panels are a great example – depending on how they have been installed, if one panel develops a fault then the whole system can be affected. Keeping them clean so they work efficiently is also important.
Not picking up on water leaks or making appropriate changes to an automatic watering system can also have a significant impact on the water bills a business might have.
Of course adapting your systems to new technology to save costs is also worth looking at. Often this means a significant cash outlay but the payback may be worthwhile in terms of the ongoing savings that can be made. It is simply not good enough anymore to say that is the way we have been doing it for the last 20 years so it must be okay.