. . . @ Your Business

In addition to the steps that employees may take at work, here are some little changes that business owners and leaders can make  to help fight climate change.

In this section:
  1. Sustainable Business Practices
  2. Energy and Resource Conservation
  3. Office Waste Reduction
  4. Education and Outreach
  5. Transportation
  6. Industry Specific Information
    1. Lodging
    2. Retail
    3. Grocery and Convenience
    4. Restaurants
    5. Small and Medium-Sized Manufacturing
    6. Contractors
    7. Auto Dealers
    8. Property Owners
  7. Home-Based Business
  8. Resources

Sustainable Business Practices

Management and Leadership

The Maryland Green Registry, a free program, shares advice for businesses who wish to become more sustainable. Check out their website for more information about the seven management tips listed below!

  1. Adopt an Environmental Policy Statement
  2. Create an Environmental or Green Team
  3. Evaluate the overall environmental impacts of your organization and set annual goals to reduce these impacts
  4. Develop an Environmental Preferable Purchasing Plan
  5. Provide Environmentally Preferable Products and Services
  6. Become Involved in Environmental Restoration or Community Environmental Projects
  7. Implement an Environmental Management System (EMS)

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The Office Environment

Make the office a more enjoyable space for your employees to enhance employee satisfaction and productivity.

Office furniture can be manufactured from recycled materials as well as recyclable, or can be bought secondhand. Any new wood pieces should be made with FSC-certified materials.

Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFL), and consider using high-end LED desk lamps for employees (see TreeHugger’s How to Green Your Lighting).

Natural daylight a free source of lighting and has been proven to improve worker productivity and satisfaction. Additionally, it’s suggested that natural daylight can even boost sales in retail settings!

Improve workspace air quality. Ensure that your facility has good ventilation and only use low-VOC paints and materials (such as furniture and carpet).

Make sure everyone has a small recycling bin so that recycling is just as easy as throwing paper away.

Purchase fair trade coffee for the break room.

Ask everyone to bring in a mug or glass from home and keep some handy for visitors so that you reduce or eliminate use of paper cups.

Energy Conservation Graphic

Office Efficiency + Resource Conservation

Making your business more energy-efficient means you will use less energy and save money, while helping the environment at the same time! Since utilities will not need to generate as much electricity, they won’t burn as much fossil fuel, which means they are releasing less pollution into the atmosphere. To find out more about estimating how much money you can save by reducing your facility’s energy use, please visit the Assess Your Savings Potential page.

HVAC Systems
  • “Tune-up” your heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system with an annual maintenance contract. Even a new ENERGY STAR qualified HVAC system, like a new car, will decline in performance without regular maintenance.
  • $ Regularly change (or clean if reusable) HVAC filters every month during peak cooling or heating seasons.
  • Control direct sun through windows, depending on the season and local climate. During cooling season, block direct heat gain from the sun shining through glass on the East and especially West sides of the facility. Depending on your facility, options such as “solar screens,” “solar films,” awnings, and vegetation can help keep facilities more cool. Over time, trees can attractively shade the facility, and help clean the air. Interior curtains or drapes can help, but it’s best to prevent the summer heat from getting past the glass and inside. During heating season, with the sun low in the South, unobstructed southern windows can contribute solar heat gained during the day.
  • Use fans to maintain comfortable temperature, humidity and air movement, and save energy year round. Moving air can make a somewhat higher temperature and/or humidity feel comfortable. Fans can help delay or reduce the need for air conditioning, and a temperature setting of only three to five degrees higher can feel as comfortable with fans. Each degree of higher temperature can save about 3 percent on cooling costs. When the temperature outside is more comfortable than inside, a “box fan” in the window, or large “whole facility” fan in the attic can push air out and pull in comfortable air from the outside.
  • Plug leaks with weather stripping and caulking. Caulking and weather stripping let you manage your ventilation, which is the deliberate controlled exchange of stuffy inside air for fresher outdoor air. To learn more about indoor air quality in your facility visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s EPA Indoor Air Quality.
  • Turn off lights (and other equipment) when not in use. High utility costs often include paying for energy that is completely wasted.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), wherever appropriate. CFLs cost about 75 percent less to operate, and last about 10 times longer.
  • Install switch plate occupancy sensors in proper locations to automatically turn off lighting when no one is present and back on when people return. Even good equipment can be installed wrong, so don’t install the sensor behind a coat rack, door, bookcase, etc. It must be able to “see” an approaching person’s motion to turn on the light before or as they enter an unlit area.
  • Adjust lighting to your actual needs; use free “daylight” during the day.
  • To prevent glare, eyestrain and headaches, do not “over-light.” Too much light can be as bad for visual quality as too little light – and it costs a lot more.
  • Install ENERGY STAR qualified exit signs. These exit signs can dramatically reduce maintenance by eliminating lamp replacement, and can save up to $10 dollars per sign annually in electricity costs while preventing up to 500 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Consider upgrading to T8 (1″ diameter) fluorescent lamp tubes with solid-state electronic ballasts that are more efficient than older T12 (1.5″ diameter) tubes with magnetic ballasts.
 Office Equipment
  • Always buy ENERGY STAR qualified products for your business. The ENERGY STAR mark indicates the most efficient computers, printers, copiers, refrigerators, televisions, windows, thermostats, ceiling fans, and other appliances and equipment.
  • Turning off machines when they are not in use can result in enormous energy savings. There is a common misconception that screen savers reduce energy use by monitors; they do not. Automatic switching to sleep mode or manually turning monitors off is always the better energy-saving strategy.
  • Another common misconception sometimes accounts for the failure to turn off equipment. Many people believe that equipment lasts longer if it is never turned off. This incorrect perception carries over from the days of older mainframe computers.
  • To maximize savings with a laptop, put the AC adapter on a power strip that can be turned off (or will turn off automatically); the transformer in the AC adapter draws power continuously, even when the laptop is not plugged into the adapter.
  • Consider buying a laptop for your next computer upgrade; they use much less energy than desktop computers, resulting in long-term savings.
  • Many appliances continue to draw a small amount of power when they are switched off. These “phantom” loads occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. This can be avoided by unplugging the appliance, or using a power strip and the strip’s on/off switch to cut all power to the appliance.
  • Unplug battery chargers when the batteries are fully charged or the chargers are not in use.
  • Studies have shown that using rechargeable batteries for products like cordless phones and PDAs is more cost effective than throwaway batteries. If you must use throwaways, check with your trash removal company about safe disposal options.
Water Conservation
  • How To Cut Office Water Waste
  • Fix leaks. Small leaks add up to many gallons of water and dollars wasted each month. Water conservation saves energy and money.
  • Use water-saving faucets, showerheads, and urinals to save water.
  • Install an insulation blanket on water heaters seven years of age or older, and insulate the first 3 feet of the heated water “out” pipe on both old and new units.
  • If buying a new water heater, always buy the most efficient model possible. In areas of infrequent use, consider “tankless” water heaters to reduce “standby” storage costs and waste.
  • Set water temperature only as hot as needed (110-120 degrees) to prevent scalds and save energy (check local codes for specific temperatures).
  • When landscaping, practice xeriscaping by using plants native to your climate that require minimal watering and possess better pest resistance. If local code allows, consider diverting “gray water” for irrigation.

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Office Waste Reduction

  • Buy post-consumer recycled, chlorine free paper. When buying printed items, choose products that are colored using eco-friendly methods and inks.
  • Recycling printer cartridges is often free, and recycled replacements are cheaper than new ones.
  • Pens, pencils, and other office supplies can also be made of recycled materials, and refillable pens and markers are preferable to disposable ones.
  • Use biodegradable soaps and recycled paper or cloth towels in the bathroom and kitchen, and provide biodegradable cleaners for the custodial staff.
  • Buy in bulk to reduce shipping and packaging waste. Reuse  shipping boxes in the office, or allow employees to take boxes home.

Education + Outreach:

November 28, 2012 - Ribbon Cutting for Four Community Job Hubs for Residents to Access Job Search and Career Training Services 92-XLIn addition to greening how you operate, you should consider using your business as a voice to reach out to others.

  • Help your employees and associates understand the principles of sustainability and incorporate sustainability into their  lives.
  • Participate in local discussions and programs to encourage sustainability in Baltimore.
  • Work through the entire chain. Encouraged suppliers to identify and adopt actions that would minimize impacts upon the environment.
  • Use green marketing to advertise the conscious practices of your business.

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Employee Transportation

June 28, 2013 - Mobile Meals Announcement (21)-L

  • Provide bike parking
  • Purchase carbon offsets for corporate travel by car and plane.
  • Subsidize employee public transportation costs.
  • Initiate a teleworking program for your employees.  Companies save an average of  $10,000 annually for each full-time teleworking employee.  See the benefits of Telecommuting Companies.
  • Save money by improving the fuel economy of your business vehicles. SBA provides tips for vehicles and fuel efficiency.

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Industry Specific Resources


If you own or operate a hotel, motel, bed & breakfast, or guesthouse, you face special challenges regarding energy management.

Consider how you can integrate more sustainable businesses practices into the following areas.

  • Housekeeping Department
  • Maintenance Department
  • Management

For specific ideas, see the U.S. SBA website of resources for lodging businesses.

Additional Resources

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Make strong energy performance your competitive advantage.

  • Retail companies spend nearly $20 billion on energy each year.
  • A 10 percent reduction in energy costs for the average full-line discount retailer can boost net profit margins by as much as 1.55 percent and sales per square foot by $25.
  • A 10 percent reduction in energy costs for the average limited service restaurant can boost net profit margins by as much as 4 percent and sales per square foot by $17.
  • A 10 percent reduction in energy costs for the average supermarket can boost net profit margins by as much as 16 percent and sales per square foot by $44.
What You Can Do
More Retail Resources

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Grocery & Convenience Stores

While the food-sales industry shares many of the energy-related issues seen in other business sectors, such as lighting, heating and cooling, appliances, etc., what sets it apart is its high dependence on refrigeration.

To save energy while using larger equipment, such as HVAC, heat pumps, motors, boilers, furnaces, and turbines, view ENERGY STAR’s equipment tech sheet, and consider buying ENERGY STAR labeled products.

Whether you operate a supermarket, grocery store or convenience store, you know that refrigeration uses a lot of energy and that translates into high energy bills. That’s why it’s important to maintain your refrigeration systems and to learn about the multitude of energy efficiency options available to you in today’s more energy efficient market.

To measure and compare your actual energy use with that of similar grocery stores nationwide, you can use the ENERGY STAR benchmarking tool which rates your store on a scale of 1-100. Whether you are responsible for one store or 100, periodic energy benchmarking is a critical step in energy management.

Refrigeration Tips

To help you save money and energy on your refrigeration needs, here are some no-cost refrigeration tips:

  • Keep doors shut – Repeated fluctuations in temperature will damage food quality and will cost money.
  • Check temperature settings – If settings are lower than necessary, chances are you are wasting energy. The most common recommended settings are between -14 degrees and -8 degrees Fahrenheit for freezers and between 35 degrees and 38 degrees Fahrenheit for refrigerators.
  • Clean cooling coils – Dirt accumulation impairs proper heat transfer and lowers the efficiency and capacity of refrigerators.
  • Check door seals – Tight seals and properly closing doors prevent warm air from entering the unit, which reduces cooling energy and prevents frost buildup. Use this rule of thumb: If you can easily slide a dollar bill into the seal, have the seal adjusted.
  • Maintain equipment – Perform any scheduled maintenance on the units and keep evaporator coils clean and free of ice build-up.
  • Do your homework – See how other grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants have saved energy on their refrigeration systems.

For more information on grocery and convenience store energy efficiency opportunities, try these online resources:

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Savor the profits from energy efficiency! Your restaurant’s profit is typically only 3 to 9% of total revenue. Follow ENERGY STAR® cost-effective recommendations and your investment in energy efficiency can give you up to a 30% return.

What You Can Do
Food Services Equipment
  • Purchase ENERGY STAR qualified commercial food service equipment. For example, qualified refrigerators and freezers can save over 45% of the energy used by conventional models, which equals as much as $140 annually for refrigerators and $100 for freezers; deep fryers can save between $60 and $180 per year; hot food holding cabinets can save up to $280 per year; and steam cookers can save between $450 and $820 per year depending on fuel.
  • For existing refrigerators, clean refrigerator coils twice a year and replace door gaskets if a dollar bill easily slips out when closed between the door’s seals.
  • Have large and walk-in refrigeration systems serviced at least annually. This includes cleaning, refrigerant top off, lubrication of moving parts, and adjustment of belts. This will help ensure efficient operation and longer equipment life.
  • Consider retrofitting existing refrigerators and display cases with anti-sweat door heater controls, and variable speed evaporator fan motors and controls.
For additional information on energy-efficiency opportunities in food service/restaurant facilities visit:

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Small & Medium Sized Manufacturers (SMM)

Small & Medium Sized Manufacturers (SMM) face a unique set of challenges when it comes to managing energy use. Managing energy may seem like one more task on a long list of things that must be done.

But improving the energy efficiency of your operations, you can increase profit margins, secure a more competitive position in the marketplace, and reduce your environmental impact.

Getting Started with Energy Management Basics for SMM

The first step is to learn some energy management basics. Check out the U.S. SBA’s Energy Management Basics for Small and Medium sized Manufacturers. These steps are based on lessons learned from ENERGY STAR partners who used them, developed long-term energy management strategies and are now seeing energy and cost savings.

  • Step 1: Assess the energy use of your plants and set a savings goal.
  • Step 2: Improve common plant systems. For further information, see the U.S. Department of Energy’s Industrial Technologies Program.
  • Step 3:Turn off what is not needed.
  • Step 4: Get employees involved.
  • Step 5: Check the lights.
  • Energy Reduction Checklist

Use this SMM Energy Use Checklist  Download Adobe Reader to read this link contentto help you follow these 5 steps.

Taking the Next Steps
Learning More

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Contractors/Home Improvement Contractors

Home improvement contractors, insulators and air sealing companies, and HVAC contractors who are ready to learn and apply advanced techniques recommended by ENERGY STAR have the opportunity to sell more services, improve customer satisfaction, and make homes significantly more energy-efficient and comfortable.

  • Sell ENERGY STAR Qualified Products. Recommend ENERGY STAR qualified products like air conditioners, furnaces, heat pumps, windows, lighting, and appliances when jobs call for the replacement of these items.
  • Promote ENERGY STAR Recommended Solutions. Contractors can distribute ENERGY STAR brochures and use ENERGY STAR’s videos to help educate and guide users about ENERGY STAR’s programs and services you offer.
  • ENERGY STAR Home Sealing improvements can save homeowners up to 20 percent on annual heating and cooling bills. Improving a home’s ‘envelope’ or ‘shell’ by sealing up air leaks and adding insulation can lower utility bills, while improving comfort and energy efficiency and making homes quieter and reducing indoor pollutants.
  • Ducts that move air to and from a forced air furnace, central air conditioner, or heat pump are often big energy wasters. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of a home’s heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent.
  • The HVAC Quality Installation Specification identifies requirements associated with quality installations, measurement procedures, and acceptable forms of documentation to show compliance. The ANSI recognized standard is available for download at http://www.acca.org/.
  • Improve Home Performance with ENERGY STAR. Contractors participating in locally-sponsored Home Performance with ENERGY STAR programs offer homeowners a comprehensive approach to home improvement that provides better energy efficiency, greater comfort, and lower utility bill. Learn more about Home Performance with ENERGY STAR.
Energy Efficient Buildings
Learn more about ENERGY STAR Home Sealing
Learn more about ENERGY STAR Duct Sealing and HVAC

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Auto Dealers

Auto dealerships use on average more energy per square foot than a typical office building. Cost effective opportunities exist for significant reductions in the energy used for lighting, HVAC, and other services, while still maintaining lighting quality, safety, and customer comfort.

What You Can Do
Environmental Regulations for Auto Dealers and Repair Shops

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Property Owners

See Seattle’s Green tenant improvement guide

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Energy Efficiency for Home Based Businesses

Saving energy for your home-based business may seem like a challenge, but there are some simple, no-cost or low-cost steps you can take to reduce your energy bills by as much as 30%.

Try some of the options below and check out our Energy Saving Tips for more ways to save energy and money while preventing pollution.

No-Cost Options:
  • Turn up or turn back the thermostat during unoccupied times.
  • Consider buying a programmable thermostat.
  • Turn off lights or office equipment at night and over the weekend.
  • Take advantage of daylight.
  • Use e-mail instead for faxes and paper memos or letters.
  • Disconnect unnecessary equipment.
Low-Cost Options
  • Caulk and weather-strip windows and doors.
  • Replace light bulbs with more efficient ones. Consider changing to high-efficiency light bulbs or CFLs.
  • Install timers on lights and electric equipment.
  • Install blinds or shades to keep out summer sun and lower air-conditioning costs.
  • Fix leaky faucets, showerheads, pipes, and toilets.
  • Consider buying ENERGY STAR labeled equipment, such as computers, monitors, fax machines, printers, and copiers.
Home Improvement

Use the Home Improvement Toolbox on the U.S. SBA website to identify specific energy saving improvements for your home, and view tips for common home improvements.

Home Office Tips

Save on Energy Costs

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Find out what other cities are doing:
Learn more about the following technologies and practices that are applicable in business facilities.
More Great Resources:

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