Below are numerous tips that can help you make your business more environmentally-friendly; many of them are things you can do right now, at now cost to you or your business:


Energy-Saving Tips:

  • Office Equipment

    • Turn off PCs, monitors, printers, copiers, and lights every night and when not being used. If you can't turn off the whole computer, turn off the monitor and printers.

    • When purchasing PCs, monitors, printers, fax machines and copers, consider ENERGY STAR models that "power down" after a period of inactivity. If appropriate, use laptop computers - they consume 90% less energy than desktop computers.

    • If appropriate, use ink-jet printers - they consume 90% less energy than laser printers.

  • Lighting

    • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. Fluorescent lamps can give the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs, and replacing just half of your light bulbs with CFLs can reduce your lighting energy use by up to 38%. Even though these bulbs cost more, they last up to 10 times longer!

    • Consider removing excess fluorescent lights and installing reflectors.

    • Turn off nonessential and decorative lighting, especially in unoccupied areas.

    • Use task lighting to directly illuminate work areas instead of area lighting.

    • Lower the height of light fixtures to increase usable light.

    • Color code or mark lights switches and circuit breakers that can be turned off when not needed.

    • Install motion detectors or dimmers to control lighting in frequently unoccupied areas, such as restrooms.

    • Install more efficient security and parking lot lighting - high pressure sodium fixtures are more efficient than metal halide, mercury vapor, fluorescent or incandescent fixtures.

    • Install time clocks or photoelectric cells to control exterior lighting, advertising sign lighting and some interior lighting.

    • Rewire restroom fans to operate with the lights.

    • Paint dark walls and ceiling with lighter colors to maximize the effect of existing lighting. Dark walls require more power to produce the same amount of light.

    • Maximize natural lighting by installing skylights or windows.

  • HVAC

    • Consider replacing old HVAC systems with the new, energy-efficient systems.

    • Install time clocks or setback-programmable thermostats to turn off systems when the building is unoccupied to maximize efficiency. 

    • Perform scheduled maintenance or units including cleaning condenser coils, replacing air filters regularly, tightening and replacing belts, and checking ducts and pipe insulation for damage.

    • Install blinds, solar screens or shades to cool office.

    • Install reflective window film or awnings on all south- and west-facing windows.

    • Keep vents closed in unoccupied areas to prevent heating and cooling of storage areas and closets.

    • For optimal energy savings, set thermostats at 78 degrees F for cooling in the summer and 68 degrees F for heating in the winter.; This will save 10-20% of cooling costs and 5-20% of heating costs.

    • Install ceiling and wall insulation. If your ceiling is not insulated or scantily insulated, consider increasing your insulation to reduce heating costs by up to 25%.

    • Insulate water heaters and supply pipes.

    • Install intermittent ignition devices on gas furnaces to save gas. 

  • Weatherization

    • Install weather stripping around exterior doors and operable windows, and around doors between heated and unheated or cooled and uncooled spaces.

    • Install door bottoms, threshold, or door “shoes” to seal gaps beneath exterior doors.

    • Insulate exterior walls and floors, and insulate roof or ceiling spaces to R-19 standards or above wherever possible.

    • Install window treatments such as shade screens, shades, awnings, or overhangs where feasible. Consider interior window film, insulated drapes, blinds, or removable insulation material.

  • Refrigeration

    • Perform scheduled maintenance on all units.

    • Keep evaporator coils clean and free of ice build-up.

    • Remove internal shelf lights to reduce refrigeration and lighting energy use.

    • Remove all, or every other, incandescent bulb over refrigerated meat displays.

    • Install auto door-closers and strip curtains on walk-in freezers and coolers, and keep doors open as little as possible during unloading and restocking. 

    • Check for proper refrigerant charge monthly.

Source: Pacific Gas & Electric and Sacramento Municipal Utility District web pages

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Water-Saving Tips:   

  • Visit the Water Saving Heroes website for specific tips on how business owners and facility managers can save and conserve water. 
    • Free tabletop cards notifying customers of the water shortage are available to restaurant owners. For free cards, call (408) 363-4708. 
    • Free low-flow pre-rinse spray valves, that spray at 1.6 gallons per minture or less, are available to restaurant owners. For free low-flow pre-rinse spray valves, call (408) 363-4708.
    • High-Efficiency Toilet Programs - Qualifying businesses and schools in can arrange for the free installation of high-efficiency toilets. 
    • Clothes Washer Rebate Program - Laundromats and multiple-family dwelling units with common laundry rooms can receive rebates of up to $400 per unit on purchased and leased high-efficiency commercial washing machines. 
    • Landscaping Programs - The Water District offers several programs to businesses including free classes to landscape contractors, free landscaping site evaluations, rebates of up to $1,000 per site for implementing hardware improvement recommendations, and Weather-Based Irrigation Controllers that evaluate local weather conditions to automatically adjust the irrigation schedule to meet the specific needs of your landscape. 
    • Water Conservation Audits - Free water survey visits are available to commercial, industrial and institutional users in Santa Clara County. During the visit, a trained water conservation expert will recommend ways your business can save and conserve water. To schedule a water audit, call 408-265-2607, ext. 2951. San Jose Water Company customers should call (408) 279-7900.
  • GreenPlumbers Workshops - This is a new program to train plumbers on water conservation practices and technologies.  These workshops are being offered throughout the state and the country at no cost to plumbers.  For more information and a schedule of workshops visit the GreenPlumbersUSA website.

Source: City of San Jose - Environmental Services Division Water Conservation - Business Action Web Page

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Recycling and Garbage-Saving Tips:

  • Reduce paper use

    • Set printers and copiers to default to double-sided copies.

    • Make double-sided photocopies. 

    • Use both sides of the page. Draft reports can be printed on the back of paper that has been used once. Set aside such paper for printers and copy machines. 

    • Print only the number of copies necessary. Limit the distribution of correspondence and reports to only those who really need hard copies. 

    • Route one hard copy to several readers. 

    • Use email or bulletin boards for sending and receiving information. 

    • Accept papers with minor handwritten corrections for internal documents.

  • Reduce packaging and shipping materials

    • Eliminate unnecessary layers of packaging. 

    • Ask suppliers to take back pallets or switch to more durable pallets that can be re-used. 

    • Investigate other reusable packaging, such as boxes. 

    • Re-use received boxes and packaging for outgoing shipments. 

    • Shred or crumple waste paper for use as packing material.

  • Use less — re-use more

    • Use or manufacture minimal or reusable packaging. For example: re-use packing material, use less packaging, and ship merchandise in returnable/reusable containers. 

    • Use and maintain durable equipment and supplies. High quality, long-lasting supplies and equipment that can be repaired easily mean fewer discards. Durable items stay out of the waste stream longer, offsetting higher initial costs. 

    • Re-use products and supplies. Use durable, reusable products rather than single–use materials. A one-time investment for reusable items ends the frequently expensive cycle of discarding and reordering. 

    • Use supplies and materials more efficiently. Change company policies and operations to increase efficiency, reduce waste, and conserve materials. Set up a re-use area where employees can take unneeded supplies rather than throwing them away and encourage staff to “shop” there. 

    • Exchange, sell, or give away unneeded goods for re-use. Donate excess food, used furniture, and other materials to local organizations such as homeless shelters or charities. 

    • Reduce unwanted or multiple copy mail. Get off unwanted mailing lists, and share subscriptions to professional magazines.

Source: San Jose Recycles - Business Waste Prevention Tips Web Page
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