Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sustainable Winter: 5 Ways To Prepare Your Business For Cold Weather

snow on the roof

As colder weather sets in, it's a good idea to prepare your business facilities and operations accordingly. Taking some simple steps now can help keep your utility bills low, your business operating efficiently, and your staff healthy and happy throughout the winter months.

Here are five tips for a sustainable winter from the Green Business Bureau:

  1. Stop air leaks. Damaged or poorly insulated windows, doors, and walls lead to cold air drafts that can significantly increase utility bills. Repair broken windows before cold temperatures arrive, and consider weatherizing your office to minimize heat loss. Simple weatherization doesn't need to cost a lot; you or your facilities personnel can apply adhesive weather-stripping to doors, insert insulating gaskets around electrical outlets and switches, and apply insulating film to windows with minimal effort and investment.
  2. Keep the heat where you need it. Cover heating vents in storage rooms and unused offices, so you're only heating occupied work areas. If large portions of your office are unused, consider working with an HVAC professional to be sure your heating system is only expending the energy it needs for your active office space. Ask staff to close window shades at the end of the workday to prevent overnight heat loss and to open the shades during the day to take advantage of natural light.
  3. Maintain your HVAC system. Late fall is a great time for scheduling a professional inspection and tuning up your HVAC system, if needed. Duct leaks, clogged filters, and other issues can reduce heating efficiency by more than 20 percent, so a seasonal servicing of your system can keep your energy costs as low as possible.
  4. Upgrade your HVAC air filter. As cold weather keeps windows closed, winter can also raise indoor air-quality concerns. Poor indoor air quality is estimated to cause or aggravate half of all employee illnesses, which can affect productivity and employee satisfaction. Install a filter with a MERV rating of at least 7 to effectively manage allergens and air pollutants.
  5. Take additional steps to improve indoor air quality. Avoiding office and cleaning products that emit dangerous chemicals is a key step in creating a healthy indoor environment; work with your facilities staff or office manager to choose nontoxic cleaners and office supplies. Maintaining various live plants around the office can also help to filter air naturally when opening windows isn't an option.

The benefits from these initiatives can last long beyond the winter season, too. A greener environment can improve efficiency, reduce expenses, and keep your staff healthier all year round.

What steps are you taking to make sure your small business has a sustainable winter? Share your ideas with us below.

Marcos J. Cordero is the co-founder and CEO of the Green Business Bureau, a leading green business certification organization that helps small and mid-sized businesses implement sustainability practices.

Thanks to Marcos Cordero / Blog Intuit / Intuit, Inc.

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