Here is a sampling of sustainable practices that can directly improve  your company’s bottom line. As you can see from the descriptions, these practices involve large Fortune 500 companies.  However, there is no reason they can’t be implemented by smaller companies.  The examples in this post can help save fuel and reduce energy costs.  With ever increasing prices for both the incentives and advantages of thinking proactively continue to grow.

Plastic or Wood Pallets?  The Wall Street Journal reported that using plastic pallets instead of wood for trucks is not only more environmentally friendly, but also a money saver. The Journal reported:

They last longer, they weigh less, and they don’t need paint or chemical treatments. Since a plastic pallet can easily handle 100 trips—versus two trips for a single-use wooden pallet—the difference in greenhouse-gas emissions is stark: 45,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide for the plastic pallets, compared with 300,000 kilograms for the wooden pallets. Most importantly, says iGPS, you don’t have to chop down trees to get plastic pallets: A Virginia Tech study found that 40% of the U.S. hardwood harvest goes to wooden pallet production.

On the iGPS website (a manufacturer of plastic pallets) even has a calculator which lets shipping companies tally how much fuel they’d save by switching from wood to plastic.

Retailers Discovering Energy Efficiency-  Another Wall Street Journal article covered the increased usage by major big box retailers and supermarkets to energy efficient heating, cooling and lighting. Stores like Office Depot, Kroger and Walmart are saving energy and money by adopting advanced energy efficient designs in their stores.  In Ohio, a state that will be facing significant increases in energy prices, smaller retailers and commercial store owners are wise to take heed.  Here are some of the changes being implemented:

  • Skylights that have reflective mirror that tracks the sun to provide natural lighting throughout the store thereby reducing energy costs
  • Intelligent lighting systems that automatically adjusts the fluorescent lighting based on the availability of natural light in the store
  • Parking lots use concrete not tar to reduce heat generated around the store
  • LEDs (light-emitting diodes) rather than incandescent bulbs in freezer units

The article notes that construction costs increased by 10% to add these energy efficient technologies, but each store is projected to save 25% in energy costs.  This will allow recovery of their upfront costs within a matter a few years.  I am certain those calculations don’t even take into account the likelihood of increased energy prices.

Smartway the "smartway" to reduce diesel costs-  U.S. EPA’s Smartway program is an innovative brand that represents environmentally cleaner, more fuel efficient transportation options.  Smartway can help finance equipment that can significantly save fuel costs.  For example, Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) allow truckers to power their truck without idling.  Smartway also rates vehicles based upon their emissions.  Perhaps one of the most useful tools you can find on U.S. EPA’s website is the Smartway calculator.