Hints for turning your existing business green




The great questions I get in my AskAndy@PSE.com e-mail box are one of the things I enjoy most about being a Reporter columnist. Most are pretty straightforward, but others are a real challenge — like this one sent to me by Jeff:

Would you please advise on each step an existing business should take to go totally green?

Whoa, Jeff! That’s a big question. Fortunately, I had the good luck recently of sitting in on a roundtable discussion with some local business leaders who had at least a few of the answers.

The conversation, which included about three dozen local companies, was part of Washington CEO’s Green Washington Awards, as featured in the magazine’s June issue. What’s really interesting is that many of the businesses that won are not the kind that would come to mind right off.

Take the Seattle Mariners, for example, which includes environmental issues as part of employee orientation, and which has the muscle-bound Captain Plastic urging fans at Safeco Field to recycle their water bottles. With help from PSE, the boys of summer have cut their natural gas use by 30 percent. Their electric bill has dropped, too. Clearly, the greening of the ballpark goes far beyond the turf of the dancing grounds crew. My, oh my, as a certain Hall-of-Fame-bound broadcaster might say.

Others at the Washington CEO roundtable included architects who say clients won’t look at a building that’s not energy efficient, freight companies that now work with competitors to get the most out of every drop of $5-per-gallon diesel, and hospitals that say patient satisfaction goes up when sustainability is part of the prescription. And number-crunchers, take note: Many said the green solution is the best financial solution over time as well.

That kind of thinking poses a new question: Am I falling behind if I’m not thinking green?

Yes, whether it’s keeping up with business competitors who are getting greener every day, or managing the family finances by saving some “green” through energy efficiency. Fortunately, as one banker at the event said, “Start with something simple you can measure, and go from there.”

From my perspective, there’s nothing easier to measure than your energy use. After all, it’s right there on the bill every month. And, if you really want to “drill down,” go to PSE.com and create a “My PSE” account to learn more about just how green you can become. Signing up for Green Power is a snap, too, allowing you to go 100 percent renewable energy in about the time it takes to read this column.

Jeff, thanks again for the question. Keep ’em coming!

Andy Wappler is a senior public relations manager at Puget Sound Energy. He joined PSE in February 2008 after being chief meteorologist at KIRO-TV. He looks forward to hearing from you at AskAndy@PSE.com