As Earth Day approaches, it's a timely reminder for businesses to reflect on their impact on the planet. This global observance emphasizes the importance of environmental stewardship — something every business should prioritize, not just for ethical reasons, but as a strategic imperative. 


Why Earth Day Matters to Businesses 

Earth Day highlights the necessity of sustainable practices in business operations. Companies that embrace eco-friendly initiatives contribute to the planet's health and enhance their brand reputation, engage with conscious consumers, and often see improved financial outcomes. Businesses that participate in Earth Day can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, which is increasingly important to investors and customers alike.  


We anticipate Earth Day each year and take time as a team to figure out which aspect of the day we want to elevate. The day could be one of rest for our team, which celebrates Earth Day every day through our work. It could be a day of education and awareness, where we share key experiences, learnings, and thoughts. It can also be a day of connection and community, where we build camaraderie with our clients, partners, and team. It can also be a day of reflection, where we consider what else we can do to raise the bar to protect our shared planet. Over our years as a firm, we’ve done a little bit of each. This year we have a big announcement coming out soon — so stay tuned!


Quick Wins and Strategic Shifts for Sustainable Impact 

While long-term sustainability programs are critical to overall business sustainability, there are many short-term solutions that can have a significant impact. A few of these solutions include: 


1. Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Alternatives

One of the most straightforward ways businesses can enhance their sustainability is by upgrading their lighting and appliances to energy-efficient models. Switching to LED bulbs, for example, offers a prime opportunity to cut energy consumption. LEDs use less power and last 25 times longer than traditional lighting options, making them a cost-effective and environmentally friendly choice.


energy efficiencyReplacing old appliances with those that meet Energy Star standards is another impactful measure. Energy Star appliances are designed to be more energy efficient than standard alternatives.


In addition to direct upgrades, conducting an energy audit is valuable for identifying critical areas where energy usage can be optimized. An audit can pinpoint specific appliances or systems that consume excessive amounts of energy, highlighting opportunities for further improvements. While this is typically the starting point for long-term energy-efficient improvements, it can be used in tandem with near-term solutions.


What Does Emerald Do: This self-directed activity is something our team has done in each of our homes and at the office. 


2. Reduce Water Use  

Reducing water consumption is essential for both environmental stewardship and cost efficiency. Installing low-flow faucets and toilets provides an immediate decrease in water usage, offering a straightforward method for conservation. Additionally, implementing greywater recycling systems allows businesses to reuse water from sinks, baths, and other appliances for non-potable purposes such as irrigation and flushing toilets.


Together, these strategies cut down on water use and demonstrate a company’s commitment to sustainable practices, helping to manage resources wisely while paving the way for long-term operational savings.


What Does Emerald Do: Like energy efficiency, our team has taken steps to implement reduced water use (except for drinking, which is good for our health!), at home and work.  


3. Digitalize Your Operations

paperlessEmbracing a paperless policy is a powerful step towards sustainability, reducing environmental impact and improving efficiency. By transitioning to digital documentation and utilizing cloud-based systems, businesses can minimize their reliance on physical paper. This shift conserves natural resources and streamlines workflows, reducing clutter and enhancing productivity.


Digitizing your operations also benefits the company’s ability to work remotely and globally as files are easily accessible from near and far (and all day long!). Just be sure your cloud service is able to report on GHG emissions and has a plan for overall reductions. (FYI: There is an environmental impact to cloud storage!) 


What Does Emerald Do: We are mostly paperless evidenced by the fact our team is still working on the same box of paper we started in 2019.


4. Source Renewable Energy

Developing onsite renewable energy systems is a long-term process. However, partnering with local utilities to secure renewable energy sources or purchasing Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) are faster ways for businesses to ensure their purchased power is generated from renewable sources.


What Does Emerald Do: Our Energy Modeling services are used to help our clients determine costs for green power supplies and RECs and we have offset or CO2e for fiscal years 2022 and 2023. 


5. Promote Green Commuting

Promoting green commuting practices is an effective strategy for businesses to reduce their emissions. Simple solutions, like installing bicycle racks and electric vehicle charging stations, can encourage employees to opt for more sustainable commuting options. Additionally, offering incentives for walking, biking, or taking public transportation to work can further reduce a company's carbon footprint.


green commutingThese initiatives not only contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions but also foster a healthier, more environmentally conscious workplace culture. As a result, businesses can see improvements in employee satisfaction and engagement while aligning with broader sustainability goals.


What Does Emerald Do: Many members of Emerald’s team now drive hybrids or EVs, which makes a difference for our Scope 3 emissions employee commuting category. We also help our clients understand what rebates, grants, and incentives are available for the installation of EV chargers at their buildings. 


6. Assess Remote or Hybrid Work Models

Depending on the business, remote work can significantly reduce company Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions related to communication and office energy use. However, this is not the case for every company. Understanding the impact this can have on your business's emissions requires conducting a companywide emissions inventory, which is a critical component of greenhouse gas reporting.


What Does Emerald Do: Since we were digital pre-COVID, we transitioned easily to a work-from-home model during the shutdown. Our culture brought us back together when it was safe, and today we operate on a 3:2 hybrid model. The debate over the benefit of WFH models on GHG reductions has been part of our journey, detailed in this blog. Just know it’s not always a straightforward answer! 


7. Educate and Engage Employees in Sustainability

Finally, education is critical. When employees are informed and passionate about sustainability, they can make greener choices both at work and in their personal lives. Regular training sessions and sustainability workshops can embed these values deeply within your corporate culture.


What Does Emerald Do: At Emerald, our bi-weekly Emerald 101s ensure our team is staying up to date on the latest knowledge and tools that help businesses and buildings be more sustainable. We often share our 101 content with clients. But please, don’t be shy! Let us know how we can help you and your team increase your understanding of sustainability as a driver of value for your building and business.


Sustainability as a Business Strategy

Adopting these sustainable practices provides numerous benefits, including cost savings, enhanced corporate reputation, and reduced risk. Companies that are seen as environmentally responsible are better positioned in the marketplace and can attract and retain top talent who prefer employers with strong environmental ethics.


Emerald Built Environments can assist your business in implementing these practices efficiently and effectively. As we approach Earth Day, let's remember that every step towards sustainability helps the planet and builds a better, more resilient business. Celebrate Earth Day by taking action and encouraging your business to adopt more sustainable practices! 


We Can Show You the Way