Green Energy Options and Benefits: Small Business Sustainability Guide
Author: Green Business Bureau
A Case for Green Energy Options For Small Business
It goes without saying that buyers are looking for sustainable companies to do business with and a big part of going green involves reducing fossil fuel use and cutting down your carbon emissions. A good first step is assessing your options as a small business for switching to renewable energy. Over the past few years, it has become exponentially cheaper to switch to renewables like solar and these options are opening up for small businesses to capitalize on. The private sector is accountable for two-thirds of the world’s electricity demand, majority of which is generated from fossil fuels. It’s time to take a look at not only your energy use but also where your energy comes from.
Green Energy Benefits: Why Switch to Renewable?
Switching to renewable energy may seem like a daunting task but the benefits are too great to ignore. Investing in renewable, clean energy opens up opportunities to:
- Save money
- Elevate your brand as a green company
- Minimize your carbon footprint
- Diversify your energy use
- Receive government aid
Switching to renewable energy may have a larger upfront cost but installing renewable energy generators such as wind turbines or solar panels has substantial cost savings long-term. In fact, those who installed a 5 kw system of solar panels saved on average between $44 and $187 per month within the first year of operation. Making the investment could dramatically lower the cost of your electric bill and in some cases can cover the cost entirely, especially when combined with best energy conservation practices.
Elevate Your Brand as a Green Company
Younger generations have become increasingly more excited about sustainable brands and oftentimes seek out green companies to do business with. Through advertising your dedication to the environment and green energy, you can attract new customers and dedicated employees, while also taking responsibility over your personal carbon footprint.
Minimize Your Carbon Footprint
Not only do these renewable resources help your finances, but making the switch greatly lowers your environmental impact as well. By 2030, wind energy will have reduced 16% of the electricity industry’s carbon dioxide emissions. To put it into perspective, at the rate wind energy is offsetting carbon emissions, by 2050 it will have saved an equivalent of $400 billion in avoided carbon emissions. Consequently, wind and solar energy are nullifying the need for energy sources that require the burning of fossil fuels and switching to these renewables will help you lower your own carbon and emissions footprint.
Diversify Your Energy
Switching to renewable power sources diversifies your energy, decreasing your interactions with fluctuating energy costs. As oil and gas becomes more scarce, costs are increasing and decreasing at an exasperating pace. Switching to solar or wind power ensures that you are relying less on imported fuels and the costs associated with them, and thus limits your interactions with oscillating prices.
Receive Government Aid
Installation of wind turbines or solar panels is cheaper now more than ever thanks to government aid. Most states are currently offering solar rebates and incentives to install renewable generators, making the switch much more affordable. We’ll go over more information on these incentives later within the solar and wind energy options.
Where Can You Start?
Investing in renewable energy is a big business decision but certainly one worth the time and effort. The seemingly endless information online about green energy options can be disheartening and the truth is, many options may not be feasible for a small business. However, there are three recommended paths for small businesses that making investing in renewables affordable and achievable:
- Install solar panels
- Install wind turbines or micro turbines
- Talk to your utility program about green energy options and initiatives
Here’s a more in depth look into each of these green energy options.
Solar Energy Installation Options
Over the past decade, the price of solar power has dropped dramatically due to tech advances, making panels easier to build and install. In fact, the price of installing solar panels has dropped by nearly 70% since 1998.
Here’s a brief overview of the benefits of solar power:
- Panels can be placed in any sunny geographical location.
- Your business would only have to pay for installation and upkeep.
- They practically pay for themselves, given how much you will save on your energy bill.
- Panel design continues to improve, increasing sleekness and avoiding any aesthetic eyesores.
- And best of all, sunlight is a free, sustainable energy source unlike our finite supply of fossil fuels.
You should research incentives available in your region and take advantage of government aid, which would greatly offset the cost of installation. Many states such as New Jersey are offering solar rebates and incentives to go green, making solar energy a cheaper option for companies within those areas.
The average residential solar panel system saves about 8,460 pounds worth of carbon emissions. This saves the equivalent of burning 432 gallons of gas! There are many reputable solar energy companies and it’s really hard to know where to start looking. Look for a solar energy company that has a great reputation and that specializes in solar panels. Here in a previous Green Business Bureau article on Selecting the Right Solar Panel Provider are some tips to help you find the best solar energy company, among other things to consider when solar shopping.
Wind Turbines Installation Options
Wind energy is the second form of renewable energy that is easy to harness and capitalize on. Although wind turbines can be bulky and are difficult to place, wind energy still has many benefits:
- Wind energy is a readily available and clean energy source.
- The cost of installation is low and continues to decrease.
- There are government incentives for installation depending on your state.
People often decide against turbines because they are bulky, but micro wind turbines can be installed on top of buildings and still generate a considerable amount of power. For those with larger properties, it’s possible to install a series of turbines as a single unit to generate adequate electricity.
As I previously stated, wind energy can greatly offset carbon emissions from the electricity sector as well. Wind energy systems will have reduced 16% of all carbon emitted by this industry by 2030. Investing in a small turbine may not save you as much money as installing a solar panel would but it will still offset electricity costs on your monthly utility bill.
Talk with Your Utility Company
Installation of green energy equipment can be a long process and may not be feasible for everyone. However, the U.S. electricity industry has been changing for quite some time to make greener, cleaner options available to customers. Now, about 50% of customers are given the option to only purchase renewable energy from their supplier.
Green pricing is a great option if you’re looking to use renewable energy but don’t have the space for solar panels or wind turbines. These programs allow you to transition to having some or all of your power produced by a renewable source, given that you pay a premium on your electric bills to cover the above-market costs of clean energy.
Overall, reach out to your electric provider to see if they offer any green pricing programs.
Switching to green energy is not as difficult as you may have thought and the benefits are simply too great to ignore:
- Installation of renewable power generators can save you money.
- Installation of solar panels and wind turbines is now cheaper than ever before.
- You can lower your carbon footprint and diversify your energy use, lowering your fossil fuel dependency.
- Investing in green energy options reflects your commitment to doing good for the world and elevates your brand.
Switching to green energy will allow your company to keep up with the changing industry trends toward sustainability. This enables you to stay relevant and attract a new group of customers and employees who care about the environment and social good. The incorporation of green energy options helps advance the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, pushing us further towards our worldwide green goals. Green energy options are certainly something to explore if you’re committed to becoming a more sustainable company!
About the Author
GBB Green Ambassador
Lauren Salerno is a management major at the University of Connecticut who is passionate about inspiring others to think sustainably within the business world. Once she graduates, she hopes to pair her knowledge of business with her passion for environmental conservation through seeking a fulfilling career within a sustainable company. In her free time, Lauren enjoys guided meditation classes, acrylic painting and walking with her dogs, Gizmo and Poppy.
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This story was originally published by Green Business Bureau and can be accessed here.