Sharper Impressions Painting Puts Green Initiatives to Work without Going over Budget
Operating a small painting business – on eco-friendly terms – is something very near and dear to our hearts. We’ve been committed to the philosophy of “reduce, recycle, reuse” for years, but have stepped up our “green” efforts quite a bit in the past year and wanted to share some of our experience with clients and colleagues who’d like to do the same.
Here’s good news for small businesses who care about the environment but are afraid that going green will break the bank. We hope our green initiatives will educate and motivate other businesses to do the same.
1. Know Your Carbon Footprint
Understand your impact on the environment. Carbonfund.org offers a free carbon calculator to determine your carbon footprint based upon factors like the number of employees, their workday commutes, the size of your facility, and other physical attributes that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions – everything down to the amount of paper you use.
Then, Carbonfund.org calculates a donation amount to cover the cost of counteractive efforts. The money is invested in third-party certified offset programs like tree-planting, energy efficiency programs, and solar and wind energy. Carbonfund.org has registered over 1,000 businesses and 450,000 individuals. The whole process took less than two hours and, for our 3,500 sq. ft. office, office staff and servers, we donated $412 to erase our footprint. It feels great to be in partnership with companies who share our commitment to environmental health.
2. Use Eco-Friendly Products
All of Sharper Impressions Painting paint products have little or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Costing only a few dollars more per gallon, low or no VOC paints are safer for the environment. All our paints are low-VOC and made of waterborne latex. That means minimal groundwater contamination when disposed of properly.
3. Pursue Solar Energy Options
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 outlines enhanced tax credits for small businesses with great detail on how to make solar energy pay off for your business. To save electricity and money in their warehouse, Sharper Impressions Painting recently purchased skylights for their office and warehouse. This was a relatively big investment at $8,000 but we’ll see substantial savings on monthly electric bills for a lifetime.”
4. Plant Trees to Help Air Quality, Reduce Erosion
In addition to third-party certified offset organizations like Carbonfund.org, planting trees on your business property is an affordable – and attractive – way to help the environment and improve the community. We made it fun and assigned each employee their own tree. We feel like we’re in this effort together.
5. Become Paperless
This is where most companies cringe because Intranet systems have a reputation of being cost-prohibitive for many small businesses. When Sharper Impressions Painting researched the process, they weighed several factors. “We looked at cost, ease of use, implementation time and how the system could grow with us,” recalls Mike Cordi, Sharper’s IT Manager. “Ultimately, we hired an expert Intranet Firm who took every paper file and converted it to a digital file. Each customer used to require an average of 16 sheets of paper…now it’s zero.”
Specializing in residential and commercial painting, Sharper Impressions Painting has partnered with the Solid Waste Authority (SWACO) for recycling removal services. SWACO provided a free 90-gallon recycling container and free desk-side bins for employees as well. SWACO has done a lot to motivate and help us find creative and effective recycling methods. (To find a similar organization in your area type “small business recycling + your city/region” into the search engine.)
7. Reduce Waste
Ultimately, the concept of reducing waste becomes a way of thinking. Going paperless was our primary way to reduce waste. Then efficiency just became the standard for us. That paradigm shift led to the writing of custom quoting software that measures the exact amount of paint needed for a job. Now, we have very little wasted paint. This technology means savings for the customer and good news for the environment.
8. Insulate Your Facility
Sharper Impressions Painting received a modest tax credit for newly installed insulation which has drastically decreased heating and cooling costs.
9. Use Energy-Efficient Vehicles
Sharper Impressions Painting’s truck fleet includes only V4 or V6 cylinder vehicles. “We used to have a V8,” says Joe Ventresco, Quality Control and Project Manager for Sharper Impressions. “We traded it in two years ago for another V4.” Ventresco has done extensive research on hybrid vehicles and is prepared for the U.S. Senate to pass the “Cash for Clunkers” bill. “We’re excited about the potential $4,500 tax credit AND a vehicle that gets twice the gas mileage while burning half the fuel.”
10. Install Bee Boxes
Sensitive to recent reports on the negative effects of Colony Collapse Disorder within the global honey bee population, a team of employees installed and painted bee boxes at the Sharper Impressions Painting home office. The disorder, caused by a combination of disease and shrinking habitats, has scientists concerned over maintaining worldwide pollination rates. Simple bee boxes costing a few hundred dollars attract bees, enabling the critical work of pollinating seeds.
Overall, the investments made by Sharper Impressions Painting have resulted in reduced costs, increased efficiency and – in some cases – modest federal tax credits, proving the ease with which small businesses can positively impact environmental health. The bottom line is that it’s easier than you think. It feels good because it’s the right thing to do.
For more information about Sharper Impressions Painting and their green initiatives, go to www.sharperimpressionspainting.org or call 1-877-665-5566.