There are numerous ways to make our businesses greener. They can be simple, immediate measures like cutting back on printers, scanners, and general paper use or installing high efficiency lighting. There are more in depth measures that can be taken too, that will have a strong, positive impact on the environment. These include revamping HVAC systems with heat recovery units and more efficient motors, grey water reclamation, and green roofs. Here, we’ll look at a few case studies in California of how businesses are being greener.
Clif Bar & Company has been looking to make transportation of their products as green as possible, and starting in 2006, they began a program they called “Cool Commute.” This program offered a cash incentive to employees to purchase biodiesel or hybrid vehicles to use as part of the Clif Bar fleet. The company also offered employees smaller incentives to use bicycles, carpooling, and public transportation to get to and from work. Because of these efforts to reduce transportation related pollution, Clif Bar and Co. received the 2008 Acterra Award for Sustainability; the highest honor bestowed by Acterra.
Nomad Café’s owner, Christopher Waters, wanted to build a community centered on sustainability. He implemented a no-waste policy that has paid off by saving the café over $12,000 each year. They accomplished this by using only biodegradable packaging for their to-go orders and charging extra for their use. This in turn led to customers bringing in their own cups and containers. All printed materials are printed on 100% recycled white paper and 30% recycled colored paper. Finally, 95% of all waste is either composted or recycled to maximize efficiency. Nomad’s efforts have garnered the attention of several green advocacy groups and they have received several awards for their efforts, including being one of only 10 businesses in California to receive WRAP of the Year.
Stater Bros. supermarkets in southern California has taken steps to manage the use of refrigerant in their stores. They implemented leak detection sensors throughout their refrigerant systems to locate any wasted refrigerant totaling 200 parts per million (ppm). Standard practices only require detection for 1000 ppm, so this system detects leaks long before they get to a point where they can actually pose a hazard to employees. Monthly system checks and yearly refrigerant audits help keep this system at peak condition, ensuring that nothing goes to waste. This has cut their refrigerant needs by 57% and saved an estimated $270,000 per year. In addition, the supermarkets compost 1600-1900 tons of waste each month to minimize the actual waste produced throughout their stores.
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