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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   July 2013

7 Ways to Go Green

Environmental consciousness can save money and increase productivity

7 Ways to Go Green

People everywhere are going green and cutting back on waste in an effort to do their part for the environment. And let’s face it — with so many people focused on reducing their carbon footprints, wouldn’t it be nice to call your business a “green” business?

This has become a selling point for some companies, and it could be one for yours, as well. Here are some ways that can help you save the planet without having to wear a cape — and maybe even increase your office’s productivity in the process.

1. Eliminate sticky notes

There are several ways to force yourself to reduce paper usage in the office, and some of these will increase productivity, as well. Start by eliminating sticky notes.

Consider just a few of the negative qualities of sticky notes: They often fall off loan files; they look messy; they don’t keep your thoughts in one place; they rely on your handwriting (which may not be legible for everyone); and they can’t be cataloged and retrieved later when needed. Instead of sticky notes, try using a notebook to keep your thoughts, to-do lists and reminders organized.

When it comes to communicating with others, simply send short e-mails to people instead of hoping that they’ll see a sticky note affixed to their desk. If you want to mark a certain spot on a document, you always can get marker stickers from an office-supply retailer.

Be warned, however, that breaking the habit of using sticky notes can be surprisingly difficult. You may catch your employees smuggling in sticky notes like contraband.

2. Automate your documents

There are many methods of automating your company’s loan documents, and thanks to certain technological innovations, a lot of lenders now are accepting digitally signed documents. When you need to get a signature on something from your borrower, consider whether it can be done digitally.

Similarly, utilize scanning and e-mailing instead of faxing. Many fax machines deliver their content directly to e-mail addresses anyway, so your clients and colleagues may not even notice any difference. In addition, you’ll find that automating documents will save time in getting documents to and from your customers — sometimes cutting several days from the loan process — and this in turn will decrease your turn times. 

3. Buy recycled products

Although this isn’t always feasible, you may find some great ways to cut costs, reduce waste and save some money in the process. It’s no mystery that spending a few minutes browsing websites like Craigslist or eBay can save you a lot of money on certain items, but considering the green aspect of buying used items, this can make a big difference for your office.

In addition, consider buying recycled-paper products for your office, from copy paper and envelopes to hand towels and reusable filters for your coffee machine. Small purchases like these can add up quickly.

4. Save electricity

The difference between a fluorescent, tube-style bulb and an LED light can be huge. For one thing, LED lights can last 50,000 hours whereas fluorescent lights typically last around 30,000 hours or less. This can result in a sizable cost difference between the two. Although the difference in initial price between these lights can seem substantial, it likely will pay off in the long run by reducing a huge chunk of your office’s utility bill.

Related, be sure that your office is minimizing its power usage in off hours. When you leave your office for the day, are you shutting everything down? Many people leave devices on, whether it’s their computers, monitors, radios, digital photo frames, etc. Remember: Even turned-off devices that still are plugged in can suck up utilities.

Here’s an idea to make things a little easier for yourself: Get a surge protector and plug in everything that should be shut off at the end of the day. In this case, there will be just one “kill switch” to press before you leave. Then, in the morning, just flip the switch and get to work.

5. Buy window treatments

Like some other green strategies, this is one small change that can add up quickly. There are several ways that you can improve your office’s energy efficiency by addressing issues with your windows. For one, start by getting blinds. Keeping them shut in the hot months will help you cut back on utilities.

Secondly, look into getting your office’s windows tinted. This may not be an option if you’re renting, but even in this case, you can ask your property manager if it’s possible to get this done. Although results certainly can vary, tinting your office’s windows can save you between 5 percent and 15 percent on your utility bills for heating and cooling, and it can reduce eyestrain for your team.

6. Use a client portal

Although it initially may not strike you as being a green innovation, utilizing client portals can help to keep you in the office less and cut back on energy consumption. Client portals are websites that can be attached to your own and allow you to upload documents, provide status updates, retrieve documents that your clients have uploaded and more. The main function of such a feature is to reduce unnecessary interaction with your customers and answer technical or status-based questions without having to pick up the phone.

With a client portal, each of your borrowers gets a secure login. You can then update your borrowers’ loans on the back end of the site, and when they log in, your clients will see real-time progress and anything else you may want them to access. You even can have the portal e-mail your borrowers with each update.

This will cut back on the amount of time you have to spend on the phone and in the office, and your company also will seem tech savvy and modernized. It’s just one more thing to separate you from your competition and put your customers at ease about the loan process.

7. Find green partners

After all is said and done, calling yourself green without buying from green companies is a little like drinking purified water with tap-water ice cubes. Some companies take energy and money-saving tactics to new levels. For example, some package-delivery companies have gone so far as to implement “no left turns” policies for their delivery drivers, after finding that they can reduce fuel consumption and emissions by avoiding lengthy waits at traffic lights and intersections. If you do just a little bit of digging, you’ll find green options not only for the products that you buy, but also for the companies from which you buy.

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Ultimately, when it comes to making a more energy-efficient office, the choice is yours. Although some of these measures may cost a little more at times, feeling good about what you do and trying to make the world a better place may prove well worth the price.


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