Green Computing, Green Revenue - Page 2

By Polly Traylor
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3. Get a Professional Energy Audit and Track Energy Use.

Yes, this will cost you money – anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, according to Jerry Lawson, national manager of Energy Star.  However, if your business is going to be around for a long time, hiring an auditor might be a wise investment.  "We believe you can't manage what you can't measure," he says. 

Next Steps:

  • If an audit's simply not possible due to finances or lack of professional auditors in your local area, Lawson recommends reviewing The Energy Star "Sure Energy Savers" guidelines to help you start a program. 
  • To monitor your ongoing energy use, download the free Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool.  (An ENERGY STAR private sector contractor maintains and updates the software for accuracy, and your information is password-protected for privacy).

4. Just Say 'No' to Paper

How many times have you printed out a 30-page document when you could have read it and made edits and comments to it through online tracking just as easily?  It's a habit, yes – but a bad one that we all need to quit. 

Next Steps:

  • Use double-sided printing and copying
  • Distribute documents electronically
  • Create a portal site for sharing content
  • Recycle what you must print 
  • Invest in digital signature technology and software that monitors paper usage by departments, Quinn suggested. Preo Software and PaperCut are two options.

5. Recycle and Disposal of E-waste

Most people in the technology world know not to throw batteries into the garbage can – same for used printer cartridges, discarded cell phones, memory sticks, old or damaged laptops, and so on. 

Most electronics that people currently own contain high levels of lead and other toxic materials that need to be handled appropriately so they don’t end up in a landfill and leach poisons into the soil and ultimately, our drinking water.  (Fortunately, major tech vendors are increasingly making new equipment cleaner)

“Safe disposal is really important,” Quinn said. “Eighty percent of hardware gets dumped.”

Next Steps:

  • Quinn recommends checking to make sure that your local e-recycler is qualified under the ISO 14001 environmental systems standard to ensure safe disposal and can provide you with a certificate saying that your data has been destroyed.  Green-Tech Assets and Technology Recycling Group are two organizations that provide or help locate recycling and disposal services.
  • Check with your local office supply store to see what they will recycle-- sometimes this can mean cash rebates, which over time can really add up.
  • When it comes to old-but-still-usable equipment such as PCs and printers, consider donating to a charity such as the local elementary school or a nonprofit.  You may also receive a tax benefit from the donation.

In part two and part three, we will look at ways in which you can make green business and green computing more pervasive throughout your organization – and thus reap more benefits. Outsourcing, thin clients and collaboration technology are just a few of the strategies that apply. Essentially, we’ll provide advice on how to take your business to the next level by aligning IT investments and strategic decisions with green goals.

Polly Schneider Traylor is a freelance business and technology writer based in San Mateo, California.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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This article was originally published on May 05, 2008
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