Green Business Resources

Green business resources

Green Business Loan ImageDefining Green Business
Green Business Incentives and Regulations
Greening a Business
Green Business Best Practices
Promoting your Green Business
Top 10 Green Blogs

 

 

What does it mean to be a "green business"?

A green business is one that makes decisions around operations, purchasing of products and/or company lifestyle that benefit profit, people and planet. At Accion, a green business loan is one that helps entrepreneurs incorporate eco-friendly products or energy savings into their business operations.


What incentives and regulations are available for green businesses?

Green Business Incentives:

There are green tax incentives and green business tax credits for businesses of all sizes.

  • At the federal level, examples include an energy-efficient commercial buildings tax deduction, a business energy reduction tax credit, an energy-efficient appliance tax credit for manufacturers, and a new energy-efficient tax credit for green-savvy builders.
  • At the state level, many are eager to attract renewable energy companies to their region, and offer tax breaks to get them there. Washington State, for example, charges no sales tax on renewable energy equipment produced or sold there. And some forward-thinking cities are beginning to offer "density bonuses" and green building incentives to developers and builders to encourage sustainable land use (From "Get Tax Incentives for Green Living." )

For more information:

  • Check out the official business link to the U.S. government to learn more about options for investing in energy efficient upgrades to your facilities, environment-related projects and improvements, and financial incentives that can save you money such as tax credits, tax deductions, sales tax exemptions, property tax exemptions and rebates.
  • Check out DSIRE for information on specific state, local, utility, and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.

What Green business regulations must my business follow?

There are dozens of environmental regulations that apply to small businesses.   Before you start any business, you should know what green business regulations are in place for waste, water and air quality, pesticides, toxic substances, and more in your area. 

For more information:


How can I green my business?

Whether you're starting a new green business or greening an existing business, you can do it using low-cost improvements and adopting best practices, as well as investing in energy-efficient and water-saving equipment.  Learn more about defining and building your green market by attending or listening to the recording of Accion's May 4th webinar of the Green Business Series: Define and Build Your Green Market and Corporate Mandate.

How do I start a green business?

If you are thinking of starting a green business, consider the following tips:  

  • Find Your Niche. As the natural, organic lifestyle continues to catch on with consumers, there are many growth possibilities; look for opportunities that match your interests.
  • Get Certified. To differentiate your product or service as environmentally sound, consider obtaining certification from an independent, third-party (more on certifications below). Being certified means that you can include their "ecolabel" on your product's label and other marketing materials. Ecolabeling is important for attracting "green" customers.
  • Practice What You Preach. The most successful green businesses don't just sell the green lifestyle. They live it. Selling green means being green, and this helps build your brand and image as a socially responsible. (From "Starting a Green Business.")

For More Information:

  • Consult the business link to government green business resources to get started developing your green business.

How do I green my existing business?

It is absolutely possible to 'go green' with your existing business. Consider business practices that embody:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Water conservation
  • Green purchasing
  • Waste reduction

You can commit to these practices often at low cost and to ultimately reduce costs for your business.  You can learn more by visiting ACCION USA's Green Business Tips page.

What are green business best practices?

How can I make my business energy efficient?

Start with anenergy assesment, and then implement changes to cut your costs.

What is an energy assesment?

An energy assessment, also known as an energy audit or energy survey, is the first step in the process of making your business more energy efficient.  Energy audits provide an assessment of your business' energy usage along with recommendations for improvements.  Think it sounds intimidating and time consuming?  It's simple, actually.  For more on energy audit basics, check out Accion's article

Your utility company most likely offers special programs with free or low-cost energy audits and financing for improvements. Call your utility company to find out about programs in your local area. 

For more information:

How can I improve my business's efficiency myself?

From office space to restaurant space there are many ways to improve your energy efficiency to lower your utility bills and contribute to more a healthy space and environment.  From turning off unused lights and investing in power strips to buying energy efficient equipment and buying programmable thermostats, there are many low-risk, high-return energy efficient improvements that you can make!  Check out Accion's tips to green your office space  and restaurant space.

For more information:

  • Home- and Office-Based Businesses Check out energy efficient tips that the government recommends for small businesses and use a checklist to maximize office efficiency.
  • Your Business' Environmental Impact While you're waiting for your energy audit, or to verify your improved efficiency after you've adopted new practices or purchased new equipment, use an energy calculator, an Energy Analyzer tool, and/or another assessment program to calculate your business' environmental impact.

 How can I help my business conserve water?

You may wonder what water use and saving energy have to do with each other.  In most cases, electricity or gas is used to heat water, and this costs you money. In addition, your water company uses energy to purify and pump water to your business as well as in the treatment of your sewage. Optimizing water use will save your business money! Some ways to save related to the water you use are:

  • Repair leaking pipes, fixtures and seals
  • Install low-flow faucets

From the business.gov Water Conservation Guide.

What are some tips for purchasing green products for my business?

Purchasing eco-friendly products will certainly have a clear benefit for the environment or community, impact your business image and potentially save you money.  Here are some green purchasing tips:

  • Avoid "paralysis through analysis." Your list does not need to be exhaustive. Many products can be found in the GreenGopher Product Guide, EcoLogo, U.S. EPA EnergyStar, or WaterSense Websites.
  • Remember to include the services you contract. You can make an effort to make sure that you choose eco-friendly vendors.
  • Keep track of your thought process, so that you have something to refer back to. This will inform other types of sustainable purchases in the future.
  • Do not get bogged down assessing trade-offs between one type of purchase or impact over another. Be clear about where you are starting and why, then move ahead. ("Green Purchasing Tips." http://www.greengopher.com/)

For more information:

How can my business reduce waste?

By efficiently reducing, reusing, and recycling, you can cut down costs for waste disposal services and inventory purchases, improve your business' public image, and contribute to your community's environmental well-being.  Check out Accion's strategies and quick tips below to reduce waste, save money, and involve your customers and employees in the process!  There are several key strategies to waste reduction:

  • Reduce! with practices such as composting.  While composting services may vary city-to-city, learn how to compost, what services are available, and more by clicking on links to programs, starting with Boston and NYC
  • Reuse! materials to save natural resources, reduce toxic waste, and cut down on your costs of purchasing more materials and of waste disposal services. 
  • Recycle!  If you're a small business and can't afford recycling costs on your own, join with other small businesses to request the service.  Learn about starting a small business recycling cooperative at: http://www.nerc.org/documents/coop/nerc.pdf

For more information:

  • Check out the EPA's quick tips for reducing waste on pages (See pages 29-30 in the PDF download). 

How can I promote my green business?

How can I market my business as being green?

Think first about getting your own business culture right and "walking the talk." Ask yourself how you will market this internally with your own staff.  From there, you can work to let the general community know about your green business practices. 

  • Learn Ten Ways to make your message resonate with green consumers.  

For more information:

  • Start working on your green marketing strategy here and view examples of green websites here.
  • View our Webinar presentation on green business marketing

What are green certifications?  What do they mean?

In their June 5, 2009 report, Consumer's Union posed the following questions to help consumers make informed decisions about green labels and certifications.  As business-owners looking to green your business and market it as "green," consider the following questions:  

  • Meaning: How meaningful is the "green" label?
  • Verification: Is the label verified?
  • Consistency: Are products consistently labeled green (or not)?
  • Transparency: Are the standards and labeling organization information publicly available?
  • Stakeholder Input: Were the standards developed with broad public and industry input?
  • Independence: Were the decision-making bodies within both the standard-setting and verification arms free from conflict of interest? ("U.S. Green Product Council Debated."

( From www.environmentalleader.com

For more information: 


 

What are some green blogs and other useful sites?

Blog.com, "the best in blogs," brings you the top ten most popular green business blogs so you can stay up-to-date on the latest trends, strategies, incentives, and regulations.

To keep up with the latest information on green business operations and tips, also visit www.greenbiz.com.