Every year, we increase our demand for environmentally friendly practices. More and more organizations and businesses are examining their current practices; they’re looking for ways to either decrease their environmental impact or eliminate it entirely. From choosing only new-growth lumber suppliers to energy efficiency in the offices, every effort a company takes to be environmentally responsible is another positive point in the eyes of the customers and industry as a whole. Some big names like Whole Foods have built a powerful reputation; much of their customer base is due to their central premise of environmentally responsible policies.
But environmental policies have a lot more to offer than good PR. One of the major reasons so many organizations have taken an environmental approach to management: ‘green’ thinking is naturally conservative. When trying to waste less, you think about making the most of every resource your company spends money on. By trying to reduce your school’s environmental impact, you find yourself looking for more cost-effective ways to achieve what the school may have been doing on automatic for years.
Most schools and businesses are familiar with ways to achieve energy efficiency. This has been the major focus of environmentally friendly talk for both residential and public buildings. Today we’re going to go beyond the power bill; we’ll take a look at many other ways to lower your school’s overhead with environmentally friendly practices.
Consider the amount of trash that your school hauls out every week. Does your school pay for trash disposal by weight? Are you regularly over-filling your dumpster with paper and disposables? Environmentally responsible practices can significantly reduce the amount of waste you produce and the cost of dealing with it. Splitting your trash between waste and recycle is only the beginning. But actually thinking about minimizing the use of disposable packaging and making use of things that might normally be thrown away can significantly reduce the amount of waste you produce.
Methods to reduce your waste can often also double as saving money on office supplies. If, for instance, you are constantly throwing away or recycling cardboard boxes, consider looking into sturdy reusable plastic bins instead. You could even develop a box-trading system with vendors and partners also interested in environmental policies.
What about when the printer makes a mistake or prints that extra mostly-blank page? Keep a stack of one-side-used printer paper for scratch paper and temporary printing tasks.
The attitude you take when choosing your school landscaping significantly influences not only the cost of the initial design implementation but the upkeep throughout the year as well. Some organizations take the opinion that appearance is everything as long as the planting phase isn’t overly expensive. However, importing plants that are better suited to other climates will need more watering, tending, and protecting from non-ideal weather. Organizations are much more likely to consider the value of regionally native plants which thrive in local soil and climate; especially when thinking ‘environmentally friendly’.
Another consideration is that trees, bushes, and flowers can all be beautiful and oxygen producing without the hassle and expense of maintaining a lush green lawn that nobody walks on. You can still have beautiful landscaping with colored gravel or wood chips over the expenses; gravel doesn’t need to be watered, fertilized, and discourages insect activity.
One benefit that few companies see coming when they implement recycling, conservation, and more creative green policies is how much the employees love it. Everyone likes to work toward a purpose and going green adds purpose to almost every activity throughout the day. Even cleaning up after lunch is more purposeful because it feels good to remember to recycle, or choose meals that don’t include disposable packaging. Working together and thinking of new ways to save power, water, paper, or reuse things that would have been thrown away is fun and adds a new dynamic to the everyday office routine.
By making environmental responsibility your new policy and getting everyone involved in the effort, you will likely notice an increase in mood, productivity, and cooperation. If you want to enhance this increased morale, bring a few green plants into the office as well. The additional oxygen and mood-lifting benefit of plant life will continue to improve the morale benefits of green policies.
There are a number of federal and state tax incentives available for taking on green practices. The best known is the available tax deduction for the costs of installing your own solar panels. Whatever size of solar installation suits your school and building, the government will refund you 30% of the cost in taxes. If you happen to have the opportunity to invest in geothermal, you can get a 10% tax deduction for these costs as well.
Reducing your school’s energy consumption by installing highly efficient new lights and appliances can also qualify for a tax credit. Providing that you achieve a 50% or greater reduction in energy costs, you may qualify for up to $1.80 per square foot of improved building space. Even if you achieve 16.666~% or greater, you can get a $0.60 deduction per square foot.
For more ideas on how to optimize your commercial real estate and save money for your school, contact us today!