Green Business Strategies for 2015
Adopt environmentally preferable purchasing. This growing area of sustainable business combines contract language, specifications and policies, with environmental standards and guidelines, and product vendors and service providers to help business make environmentally sound purchasing decisions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Database to help them meet their own mandatory purchasing requirements, but it is available to the public. More about the EPP Database is available at http://yosemite1.epa.gov/oppt/eppstand2.nsf.
Incorporate the benefits of green chemistry. Green chemistry can include any materials that reduce or eliminate the generation of hazardous substances. Production and use of green chemistry can also lead to cleaner air, water, and land, and improved worker safety and health. In the workplace, that can mean fewer regulatory burdens, a reduced need for personal protective equipment (PPE), and direct benefits to a company’s bottom line. According to the EPA, green chemicals offer a number of other economic benefits, including:
- Consuming smaller amounts of feedstock to obtain the same amount of product, with higher yields for chemical reactions;
- Requiring fewer synthetic steps, potentially speeding up product manufacturing, increasing plant capacity, and saving energy and water;
- Reducing waste, eliminating costly remediation, hazardous waste disposal, and end-of-the-pipe treatments;
- Allowing replacement of a purchased feedstock by a waste product;
- Creating products that perform better, decreasing the amount needed to achieve the same results;
- Reducing the use of petroleum products, slowing their depletion, and avoiding associated hazards and price fluctuations;
- Reduced manufacturing plant size or footprint through increased throughput;
- Increasing consumer sales by earning and displaying a safer-product label (e.g., Design for the Environment (DfE) labeling); and
- Improving competitiveness of chemical manufacturers and their customers.
Information about EPA’s Green Chemistry Program is available at http://www2.epa.gov/green-chemistry.
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Take another look at renewable energy. Clean energy from renewable sources can minimize or eliminate greenhouse gas (GHG) air emissions, diversify the energy supply, reduce dependence on imported fuel, and help create jobs in multiple sectors. Within the renewable energy sector is “green power,” which the EPA defines as “electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources.”
For those businesses that cannot install on-site renewable energy systems, another alternative to consider is the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs). Businesses that purchase RECs also purchase the “property rights to the environmental, social and other nonpower qualities of renewable energy generation.” The EPA lists primary and secondary REC attributes that include:
|Renewable fuel source||Reduced carbon footprint|
|Emissions of the renewable generation||Price stability|
|Geographic location of the generator|
|Vintage of the generator|
|Eligibility for certification or RPS|
|Renewable fuel source|
To help businesses sort out what green power options are available and where, EPA’s Green Power Partnership and Green Power Locator provide a number of resources to assist at http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/index.htm.
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Consider cleaner transportation opportunities. Mobile sources of air emissions from vehicles in transportation are a major contributor to air pollution and associated climate and human health impacts. But there are many ways for businesses to reduce transportation-related emissions and different programs and publications that rate vehicles for emissions and fuel economy.
For example, the 10-year-old SmartWay program works with large and small trucking companies, rail carriers, logistics companies, manufacturers and retailers, and other government agencies to reduce emissions through incentives to improve supply chain efficiency. Each model year, the SmartWay Program also certifies the lowest GHG and smog emitting passenger vehicles in the Green Vehicle Guide. In addition, the EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE) jointly publish the annual Fuel Economy Guide for all cars and light trucks, which provides a wealth of information for comparing different models and tips for improving fuel efficiency. EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ) offers all of the above information at http://www.epa.gov/otaq.