Ways to Make Construction Less Environmentally Destructive

The effects construction can have on the environment is well-known. In fact, studies have shown that construction may be responsible for as much as half of landfill waste, 40 percent of global energy use, and 50 percent of climate change. These estimates make it absolutely necessary for the construction industry to take measures to protect the environment.

Dispose of Waste Properly

Construction projects often produce a large amount of debris and waste that will need to be disposed of properly. Non-hazardous waste materials like bricks, wood, and concrete can be disposed of in a number of ways. Hazardous materials must be disposed of in ways according to the laws and policies that govern the particular substance. In 2014 alone, the United States produced more than 500 million tons of construction waste. Ninety percent of this debris is demolition waste that is then either incinerated or put in landfills. Construction companies can help reduce the amount of waste by first providing accurate estimates of the materials that will be needed for the project to cut down on unused materials. Materials should also be recycled or reused whenever possible.

Use Ground Protection Mats

When heavy machinery is needed to complete a construction project, it is important to protect the ground from the damage this machinery can cause. One way to do this is by using ground protection mats. Laying down ground protection mats helps minimize the damage that heavy construction equipment causes. This protection will help preserve native plants and will prove equally effective at protecting man-made surfaces from damage.

Limit the Use of Fuel

Burning fossil fuels is responsible for a large degree of the harm caused to the environment by the construction industry. When fuels like gas and diesel are burned, a number of toxic gases can form that are harmful to the environment. There are a number of ways you can reduce the use of fuel during your construction project:

  • Decrease the distance of hauls
  • Do not allow engines to idle for long periods of time
  • Find ways to use greener energy sources
  • Make use of hybrid equipment

 

Construction projects can have a great impact on the environment. Because of this, it is important for companies in the construction industry to exhibit diligence in their efforts to preserve the environment. Fortunately, there are a number of methods available to these companies to minimize any possible negative consequences of construction projects.

 

Is Solar Power Sensible for Businesses?

Solar power is the energy of tomorrow, but many companies have already invested in it today. Out of the top ten users of solar-powered energy, eight of them are big-box retailers. With energy costs rising every year for the past ten years, companies are now seeing the cost-saving benefits of solar energy. Solar panels can help cut power costs down by more than half of the total bill. Solar panels installed on your business property will capture sunlight during the day and convert that sunlight into usable energy, which is stored in an energy bank. If your business captures more energy than it needs, it can sell that energy back to the utility company for profit. If you are considering solar power for your business, here are some advantages solar power will bring.

Impact on Operating Costs

If your business is spending a lot on its energy bill, investing in a hybrid energy system may reduce its overhead. According to National Grid, the average business spends 19 percent of its total expenditures on energy costs. With numerous tax benefits, government grants and the potential to profit from selling the excess energy collected by the solar panels, it makes sense to seriously consider going solar. Also, electricity prices are unpredictable due to yearly price fluctuations, but with solar-powered energy, you can stabilize your energy bill.

The Importance of Being Green

According to Humless, carbon footprint reduction matters to customers these days. With better awareness of global warming and the deterioration of the environment, more consumer groups than ever before are insisting that companies play their part in reducing their carbon footprints. Solar panels provide eco-friendly, sustainable energy. By turning to solar power, companies can strengthen their commitment to being environmentally friendly.

Low Maintenance

According to EcoWatch, solar panels require very little maintenance and are expected to last between twenty-five and forty years. Most establishments can expect to recover the initial cost of the panels within the first few years. With annual maintenance, the power production of solar panels over forty years is expected to be roughly 80 percent of its original output. While some loss of efficiency is to be expected after forty years, solar panels are still more efficient than traditional power lines. Unlike power lines that may go down or undergo maintenance, solar power panels rarely break down. If your business normally uses a lot of electricity, switching to solar power may be a worthwhile investment.

More and more businesses are turning to solar power to lower their utility costs, strengthen a commitment to going green and obtain a more stable source of energy with minimum upkeep. Solar power is the energy of the future for many businesses. It’s a great way to save money and contribute to a better environment, so why not give it a try?

4 Small Tweaks That Can Make Your Home More Environmentally Friendly

As we learn more about our planet, many people are beginning to understand how important it is to protect our environment. There are many global efforts, including laws, charities, etc. that attempt to protect our planet. However, each individual has the ability to do their part in their own home like installing energy efficient appliances and more. Below are a few tips to ensure that your home is environmentally friendly. 

Install a Smart Thermostat

Heating and cooling is a home’s biggest energy expenditure, according to the U.S Department of Energy. Installing a smart thermostat can help your home save energy. You can program it to turn off and on when you choose. This helps you to heat your house efficiently with as little waste as possible. 

Use Natural Cleaning Products

At some point, every chemical that you use to clean your home will return to the earth. Many traditional cleaning products are harmful for the environment. These cleaning products pollute the water supply, this requires more energy to purify the water so it is ready to use. Natural cleaning products clean effectively and do not harm the environment. 

Install Artificial Grass

A lot of effort and energy goes into keeping a lush lawn. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans use approximately 320 gallons of water a day. Almost 1/3 of that is for outdoor use. Artificial turf eliminates the need for chemical fertilizer and the insane amount of water required to keep natural grass green. A synthetic lawn will save resources and reduce pollutants. It also never needs weeding or mowing, saving you precious time as well. 

Buy Recycled Products

Many companies are beginning to use more recycled materials for their products. They usually clearly indicate that they use recycled materials in their manufacturing process. As a homeowner, and consumer, make the decision to consciously choose products made from recycled materials. Also, recycle your products after you use them. Recycling reduces refuse and saves the energy that would have been used to make new products.

Caring for our environment should be a primary concern for every individual. A smart thermostat, using environmentally friendly cleaning products, installing synthetic grass, and buying recycled products, are four relatively simple steps that you can take to make your home more environmentally friendly. Preserving the environment is every person’s responsibility and we must create actionable, consistent, measures such as the ones mentioned above to protect our earth.

These Are the Most Energy-Efficient Home Appliances in the US

Everyone uses appliances in their homes at some point or another. However, these appliances have a tendency to use a lot of energy if you are not careful. Older appliances have been known to use more energy than necessary and can rack up your electric bill. Fortunately, there are more energy efficient appliances on the market that can help you keep costs down. These energy efficient appliances are eco-friendly and are worth every penny of your investment when you consider how much money you will save each year in energy costs.

AirEase

Keeping your home cool or warm whenever the weather outside can negatively affect you is crucial. That is why AirEase is one of the best HVAC solutions on the market. AirEase utilizes smart technology that allows the system to automatically adjust the internal temperature of your home. This can optimize how much energy you are using each day.

Bullfrog Spas

You want to only get the very best in spa technology whenever you decide to install one in your home. Bullfrog Spas are some of the very best in the industry and can provide you with an eco-friendly spa that can help you relax. Bullfrog Spas have 90% less plumbing than other spas, which is the key to their surprising energy efficiency.

Liebherr Refrigerators

Your refrigerator works around the clock to keep your food cool. This means that it is constantly using energy all day. Older refrigerators have a tendency to use up a lot of energy and can increase your electric bill. These types of refrigerators are incredibly eco-friendly. They do not use freon to run properly and instead use condenser and evaporator coils. These prevent the machine from emitting harmful emissions into the air that can hurt the environment. Liebherr refrigerators utilize smart technology that allows them to adjust the temperature without you having to do it.

The LG DLHX4072 Drying Machine

Some dryers have a tendency to suck up a lot of energy whenever we put them into use. Fortunately, the LG DLHX4027 Drying Machine uses EcoHybrid Energy-Saving Technology that can help you save money on your electric bill. It also has a built-in smart diagnosis component that adjusts the temperature of your cycle accordingly.

Technology will always improve the quality of our lives. This is especially true whenever it comes to using eco-friendly appliances. Be sure to check out some of these appliances on our list and apply them to your home or business to save money (and the environment!) in the long run.

3 Ways to Protect the Environment When You Literally Build Your Business

After years of planning, the time has finally come to build your business. The chances are that you have saved up lots of money for this, and you have been planning for a long time. However, it is important not to rush. Without proper environmental precautions, you will not only end up damaging the land that you have bought, but you will also risk the possibility of heavy fines.

Use Industrial Recycling

Construction Executive says that today, more than ever, contractors need to be aware of their impacts on the environment. A failure to consider environmental effects can test the financial stability of even the best of companies. It is almost certain that there will be some waste materials when you build your business. This may take the form of a previously-built structure that needs to be torn down. It might also take the form of defective material, which can often happen when you buy materials in bulk.

It is very important to recycle all of these waste materials. The best way is to take all your metals to the scrapyard and everything else to an approved disposal location.

Use Ground Mats

You should always use mats for heavy equipment. Spartan Mats explains that heavy equipment mats provide the kind of barrier you need to have between your work and the surrounding environment. They help you minimize the damage that your heavy equipment can make while also helping you get the job done effectively.

It is especially important to use these ground mats when tracked vehicles are being used. Most roads and parking lots are not meant to deal with these vehicles, and the bare ground will be torn into a muddy mess by these tracked vehicles. Replacing a patch of green with a muddy mess is never good for the creatures that live there. This is why you must always use mats for heavy machinery.

Institute Proper Spill Training

If a hazardous substance is spilled, it is very important to act quickly. From an environmental perspective, you do not want toxic substances to soak into the ground. According to the Groundwater Foundation, groundwater is one of our most important sources of water for irrigation, but unfortunately, it is susceptible to pollutants. When pollutants hit the water table, they become part of the environment and thus become very hard to remove.

Make sure that all your employees are trained in proper cleanup procedures. Make sure that all the employees understand the importance of quick action. When an accident occurs, it is human nature to be a little shocked at first. Proper training can ensure that workers will spring into action and do what is necessary.

Although there will be a little time and expense, environmental protection is truly everyone’s responsibility. Remember, your actions (or lack of action) can have consequences that affect entire ecosystems and large numbers of people and animals. This alone should be all the motivation that a person needs to take the proper precautions.

Are you unsure about the sustainability of your business and its impact on the environment? Contact us to ask about a getting a sustainability report on your business!

3 Criteria to Determine if a Product is Environmentally Ethical

Every time you buy something, you are making a choice about your impact on the environment. Every product in the store has an environmental cost. Modern electronics use rare metals that are mined from the earth. Paper products require trees to be harvested. Companies that produce these products also make environmental choices. Their efforts to make a profit can either harm or heal the environment. Here are three criteria you might use to determine if a product is environmentally ethical.

Sustainability

An important place to start is determining if a product is produced in a sustainable way. Crowdspring explains that the four areas to optimize for sustainability are: manufacturing, transportation, use, and disposal. Advancements in all those areas are essential for more environmentally sustainable products. Does the manufacturer incorporate renewable energy sources such as wind and solar in its production process? Are rare materials recovered and reused in new products? You will also want to look at harvesting practices if they apply. For example, an ethical paper production company might have a program to replant as many trees as they harvest in a season. Ethical companies with seek to either have a zero net effect on the environment or may even try to have an overall positive effect.

Traceability

In recent years, consumers have been paying attention to the sourcing of products. How much energy is consumed in bringing materials to the manufacturing plant? How much waste is created along the way? doTERRA discusses how consumers, particularly millennials, are becoming more concerned with the traceability of the products they consume. It’s becoming more evident that just having a catchy CSR program as a company just won’t cut it, and that companies need real answers as to the source of their products. A company that takes sourcing seriously will have done the research and can easily show how raw materials get to the factory and how the product gets from the factory to shelves.

Durability

For too long, society has been comfortable with treating products as disposable. Especially with the advent of plastics in the early twentieth century, lower prices on goods meant less emphasis on durability. For many companies, this led to increased production and increased profits. In some cases, products were designed to fail after a certain amount of time. For the environment, this has meant overflowing landfills and islands of plastic floating in the ocean. Ethical products are designed to last. They may have a compartmental design where parts can be repaired or replaced rather than replacing the whole unit when it fails. If a product has been on the market for some time, product reviews can help you predict how long it will last without issue.

Consumers are demanding that companies have environmentally ethical policies and practices in place. They want to know that their shopping is causing minimal harm to the planet. By paying attention to what your buy and how it is made, you can make a difference in healing the environment.

How Sustainable is the U.S. Farming Industry?

Sustainable farming provides a tool to engineer sustainable products using sustainable processes and systems. While it has a way to go, the US farming industry continues moving forward as a collective for environmentally aware businesses. Agricultural engineers involved continue to make design and process decisions that move US farming toward a sustainable way of business.

How Are We Doing?

According to the Environmental Leader, 70 percent of US farms had implemented sustainable farming techniques by 2009. The most popular option is no-till farming, also known as direct seeding, a technique implemented by 59 percent of US farms. Minimizing chemical use ranks as the second most popular option at 46 percent with crop rotation rounding out the top three at 45 percent. About one-third of farms also practice reducing energy use and use genetically modified seeds.

Less common techniques might surprise you since many of them are practiced among the general public. These include recycling in which 24 percent participate, water conservation which 16 percent use, using wind or solar energy which five percent do, purchasing carbon credits which two percent do, cutting expenses which one percent do and less than one percent had met the qualifications for organic certification.

About the Methods

Not every farm uses every sustainable method. It is easier to implement sustainability farm-wide one process at a time. Choose the process that works best for you.

  • Crop rotation: Crop diversification, such as intercropping, and rotation results in healthier soil and reduced pests.
  • Cover crops: Rather than leave soil bare, during off-seasons the farm plants clover or hairy vetch to prevent erosion and build up soil nutrients. It also helps control herbicides.
  • No-till methods: No-till planting inserts the seeds directly into the soil without disturbing it which reduces erosion and improves soil health.
  • Integrated pest management (IPM): IPM uses biological and mechanical and biological control methods to minimize chemical pesticide use.
  • Integrating crops and livestock: Placing livestock near crops and using their manure as fertilizers can create greater efficiency.
  • Integrating agroforestry: Planting shrubs and trees into cropland or grazing lands provides shade and protects water resources.
  • Systems management: Sustainable farms set aside areas as a green space that remains uncultivated. These include prairie strips and riparian buffers that control erosion, reduce nutrient runoff and support biodiversity and pollinators.

Is Organic the Way of the Future?

Growing organic does not mean the same thing as growing sustainably. Organic farmers aren’t Amish; they still use much of the same machinery that traditional farmers use, with a similar carbon footprint: manure injection tilling equipment, seed drills, combines, etc. With that comes the same sustainability problems. Organic farming does negate the use of herbicides and pesticides.

The Nexus of Science and Agriculture

Sustainable agriculture uses state-of-the-art, science-based practices that maximize productivity and profit while minimizing environmental damage. Sustainable practices can enhance profitability while benefiting the community and environment. Sustainable farms use techniques like crop rotation, prairie strips, hairy vetch, and natural fertilizers to produce successful crops while maintaining healthy soil.

While the traditional industrial agriculture system wasn’t built to last, sustainable agriculture is. Traditional large-scale farms grow the same crops each year, use chemical fertilizers and pesticides that cause soil damage as well as, adversely affecting water, air and climate. Sustainable agriculture provides all size farms accessible choices and technologies that allow them to produce valuable crops while reducing environmental damage.

Where is the Wind Blowing in Wind Energy Advancements?

Wind energy continues to be an excellent energy alternative worldwide. Advances in technology and reduced infrastructure costs have contributed to the efficiency, and today the average cost for wind energy is 2 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Wind energy is at all-time lows, especially in the middle of the country. The low cost and federal incentives are encouraging utility and corporate companies to choose wind energy.

Rural Areas

Wind energy brings many benefits to rural communities to include jobs, reduced electric bills, and a boost to the area’s overall economy. Alt Energy Magazine explains, “wind creates no harmful emissions and it does not require water to produce energy. Not using water is an enormous benefit for rural communities because many have farms that are heavily dependent on water. Also, wind power will not pollute the water in these areas.” Rural areas are ideal for wind energy because of the wide-open spaces.

Jobs

Wind energy is creating jobs in the energy sector. There is a wide range of domestic suppliers for energy equipment. According to one source, the pros of wind energy are increasing every year, and “in 2017, the wind energy sector accounted for about 200,000 jobs in the United States. Current projections estimate that this number will rise to 250,000 jobs sometime in 2020.” The wind projects in the United States were primarily built with domestically manufactured parts to include nacelle assemblies, towers, blades, and hubs. Wind-related jobs can now be attained in every state in the country. There are over 500 factories that build parts for wind projects. Wind energy jobs have an excellent outlook and wind technicians are one of the fastest growing careers in the nation.

Environmental Benefits

Wind is a renewable energy that helps to reduce harmful emissions released into the environment. Electricity is responsible for a third of the United States’s global emissions. According to this study, if wind energy was used for the majority of our electrical needs, it would drastically reduce harmful emissions that are released into the environment. Wind energy does not create any waste. This, in turn, reduces the need to create dump sites for fossil fuel waste. This kind of energy prevents contamination of the soil, air, and water in the area. Wind energy also reduces the consumption of fossil fuels. This is important because fossil fuels produce greenhouse gases that can harm the environment and the ozone layer. Wind energy can be created in almost any climate or location. This eliminates the need to import energy from long distances. Wind is very efficient and has sustained development. It also does not release any toxic substances that can contribute health problems.

In closing, wind energy is an excellent renewable energy that has few negative effects on the environment. It is ideal for rural areas because of the job opportunities and reduced costs of energy. Wind energy has tremendous growth potential for the future.

If you’re trying to make a bigger impact for the environment why not try to create more sustainable office practices?

Ways Every Business Can Be More Eco-Minded

Making your business more eco-friendly is not only good for the environment, it’s great for your bottom line. Savings realized by changing the products you use and finding ways to be more energy efficient are immediately tangible, but you’ll also generate goodwill in your community by being a green leader. Whether you’re looking to start small or make a big impact immediately, here are easy ways every business can be more eco-minded.

Ditch the Disposables

In 2015, 28.7 million tons of disposable plates, cups, and utensils found their way into American landfills. If you stock a lounge for employees, replace expensive paper and plastic products with durable equivalents, then you’ll save money immediately and on the back end with waste disposal fees.

Communicate Online

Paper is a top expense for most businesses. Reduce yours by encouraging electronic interoffice communication. Sharing forms and documents electronically on a print-as-needed basis decreases costs and saves valuable storage space. If you are not yet sending invoices and promotional materials via the web, consider starting now.

Recycle Cardboard

Recycling cardboard is an easy and effective way for businesses to start being more eco-friendly. Although paper and paperboard items are among the most recycled, 13.3% of it still ends up in landfills. Installing collection boxes for clean, recyclable cardboard is a good first step. For large volumes, investing in and training employees how to use a cardboard compactor and baler could greatly improve the chances of employees recycling their products, and will significantly cut down on waste. Not only that, but research has shown that when employees feel they are contributing to causes, they feel better, and work better.

Embrace Natural Climate Control

Decrease heating and cooling costs by working with natural systems. Operable window coverings like shades and awnings can be extended in the summer to reduce the solar heat gains that increase indoor temperature and retracted in winter to maximize free warmth from the sun. A single window awning on a south-facing window can reduce summer heat gain by nearly 65%.

Make the Switch to LEDs

ENERGY STAR-labeled LED bulbs can cut your lighting bill by more than half. They use less than a quarter of the energy of traditional incandescent and halogen bulbs and last up to 25 times longer. LED bulbs are now available in almost every size and shape, and their cost is competitive especially considering that you won’t have to change them as often.

See Other Energy Alternatives

Additionally, if your business has the opportunity, you can make your business even more eco-friendly by utilizing solar energy panels. You can also look to other options such as wind energy, which can help job creation and is completely renewable. Wind energy is also very convenient for business in rural areas. But regardless of which new green energy you might want to take advantage of, the important is that you are contributing to more sustainable practices.

Start your eco-minded savings initiative by switching to less expensive recyclable office supplies, and roll the savings into making bigger changes. Your business will save money, staff will learn by example, and the community will appreciate your environmental consciousness. It pays in more ways than one to be a green leader.

If you’re trying to create products that not only are good for your customers, but are also good for the environment, then let us help! The first step to a better world is making changes to the way we do things.

5 Principles to Cut Costs in Your Recycling Facility

As a recycling facility, you are supposed to be more aware of the environmental impact you are making in all of your operations than other regular businesses. This means that as you recommend ways to cut cost, save energy, and conserve the environment, you also need to think about your own business, your current practices and whether they are cost and environmentally friendly. Here are five tips to help you cut cost as you recycle.

Offer Reusable Items in the Breakroom

One of the other sources of waste in the working environment is the use of disposable tableware such as coffee cups and pastry packaging. Waste Wise Products recommends that instead of having single-use cups, buy washable mugs and get saucers to serve food on during the coffee break. This will bring down your purchasing costs significantly. You can also include recycling bins all around your business to ensure recycling is more commonly used.

Create a Centralized Hub for Office Supplies

One of the best ways to save money and reduce waste in the office is to consolidate commonly used office supplies and place them somewhere that everyone can access. For instance, supplies such as scissors, wipes, tape, file folders, paper clips, and others can be placed in a common place that everyone can access reducing the need for everyone to purchase the supplies on their own. The central source can have a storekeeper or someone to be in charge to make sure that everyone is accountable for what they use.

Perform Regular Machinery Maintenance

Another habit that leads to ballooning costs in a manufacturing facility is the poor maintenance of machinery. When you do not invest in maintaining your manufacturing and recycling equipment, you leave it vulnerable to breakdowns that will cost you thousands of dollars to repair or replace. Fluent Conveyors explains, “a recycling facility uses many machines and tools including conveyors, forklifts, and balers on a day-to-day basis. If one of these machines breaks down, the facility can’t function smoothly and that can have an impact on revenue.”

Conserve Electricity

Another way that you can reduce the cost of running your business is investing in energy solutions which reduce dependence on electricity. For instance, you could decide to install solar panels to help with some of the heating costs. Making sure that power is off when not needed also lowers the energy bills and makes the workplace environmentally sustainable. Replacing all lights with LED eco-friendly bulbs won’t only save you money, but it’s better for the environment. You can also set most electronics to energy saving mode, which can be very helpful over time.

Buy Recycled and Recyclable Supplies

There are office supplies such as toilet paper, paper towels for the kitchen, rubber bands, paper clips and others that come from recycled material. The benefit of shopping for these supplies is that you get to pay less for them and conserve the environment at the same time.

Other Tips

Recycling is becoming more and more common as more people strive to become ecofriendly. You can seek to reach out to schools and healthcare businesses to see if they will need any sort of recycling done – chances are they will. Additionally, many households have plenty of hard to recycle materials, such as old appliances that made have issues and can’t be easily disposed of. It would be smart to reach out to tailor some of your social media marketing to reach out to these households for recycling materials if needed.