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6 Ways To Measure Your “Go Green” Program

How Green is your OrganizationBecause I have been working with hundreds of companies that have implemented “go green” campaigns over the past few years, I often wonder how to quantify the effectiveness of these programs.

There are dozens of reasons that an organization will want to run a green initiative—from good corporate stewardship to trying to improve their corporate image in the community or within their industry…and everything in between.

In a tight economy, management is often looking for ways reduce costs, so every program is under fire, including green initiatives.

So how can a business or organization justify the time and costs involved in their green campaigns?  Here are six steps to help in quantifying the results of a “go green” initiative.

1) Certifications: Some organizations, such as those in the building trade, can use the LEED certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.  This program measures how well a building or community performs against a variety of criteria, including use of materials, energy savings, water efficiency, indoor environmental quality and others. LEED addresses all sorts of built environments including neighborhoods, homes, offices, schools, hospitals and retail-new construction and existing buildings. More information about LEED can be found at this link.

Other industries may have similar certifications form which you can measure and compare best business practices.

2) Cost Savings: Perhaps you can measure the energy savings from switching to solar panels or the savings from switching to more energy efficient HVAC equipment, new windows, window coverings, CFL light bulbs, thermostat setting adjustments, etc.  These numbers are fairly straight-forward and easy to measure over time.

3) Number of Trees Saved: If you switch your paper supply to recycled paper, how many trees did you save?

Claudia Thompson, in her book Recycled Papers: The Essential Guide (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992), estimates that it would take approximately 24 trees to produce a ton of printing and writing paper.

It was also estimated that:
•    Each pallet of copy paper (20-lb. sheet weight, or 20#) contains 40 cartons and weighs 1 ton.
•    A single carton (10 reams) of 100% virgin copier paper uses .6 trees.
•    A single tree makes 16.67 reams of copy paper or 8,333.3 sheets.
•    One ream (500 sheets) uses 6% of a tree.

With these numbers, it is easy to calculate how many trees are saved by using recycled paper.

The same type formulas can be gathered for other raw materials, including plastic, glass and metals reduced by switching to recycled rather then virgin supplies.

•    Glass recycling saves about 50% of the energy required to produce virgin glass due to the lower temperatures of the furnace.
•    Each ton of recycled steel saves 1.28 tons of solid waste and reduces energy consumption by 75%.

Be on the lookout for these quantifiable savings and talk to your suppliers about actual calculations.

4) Amount of Landfill Waste Saved: By recycling more of your by-products and waste, you can significantly contribute to society by reducing landfill waste.  Ask you waste management company for reports on the number of metric tons that your company has saved over the length of your green program.

5) Carbon Footprint: If your organization promotes car pooling, encourages virtual trade meetings rather than air travel, etc, a simple carbon calculator can help you do the math.  The Nature Conservancy has a handy online calculator that you can use for free at this link.

6) Goodwill: Corporate Social Responsibility and goodwill are difficult to measure, but have high intrinsic value.  Many public companies command significant premiums for their “goodwill”, of which green initiatives are often a factor.  A positive green reputation can help brand your company as progressive and win it respect, customers and less government interference, but it can be difficult to measure.

Measuring or quantifying your cost reductions and positive contributions can help your company to better appreciate its green efforts so it can be looked at as an integral part of one’s business practice, rather than as a costly fad.  Doing good can actually be good for business.

Here’s to a greener tomorrow…today.
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Robert Piller is President of EcoMarketingSolutions.com, which helps companies that are “going green” to better promote and market their brand. His web site includes a comprehensive eco-friendly advertising specialty search, featuring over 25,000 eco promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green.  The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find recyclable, biodegradable, organic or recycled imprinted promotional items in any price range and time frame. View the Go Green website at EcoMarketingSolutions.com and comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com.

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