Every energy-efficient change you make is going to impact your bottom line. That's because saving energy leads to saving money. So cutting back on energy consumption, water waste or greenhouse gas emissions is not only an environmentally responsible choice, it can help your business thrive too. Check out some of the big businesses that have found success through sustainability.
Though you may not think about office supplies as being green, Staples has taken great strides to improve its sustainability efforts. By the end of 2013, Staples had 513 ENERGY STAR-qualified facilities, which use 35 percent less energy than non-qualified buildings. And the company has lowered its energy costs even more through the use of solar power. Staples generates 15 million kilowatt hours of its own electricity by utilizing solar panels on 34 of its locations. That's enough renewable power to offset the use of more than 2,000 vehicles. The company also has 53 all-electric trucks in the U.S., which not only help Staples cut down on fuel costs, but reduce emissions in the atmosphere as well. And 11 percent of Staples' sales, approximately $2.47 billion, come from sustainable products.
Technology takes a lot of data and powering a data center can be a costly endeavor. But Microsoft has been developing new data center designs that can increase efficiency in the facilities by 50 percent. The data center it runs in Dublin, Ireland, for example, already operates off of this new design and has cut its energy consumption in half. And to top it all off, the facility only uses 1 percent of the water that typical data centers use and it doesn't waste a drop. Microsoft has also rolled out an energy management program to decrease the use of energy in its buildings, reducing energy consumption by as much 10 percent in some locations.
Though potatoes have long been used to generate electricity for science fair projects, PepsiCo hopes to innovate with the potato even further. The company's team in Leicester, England, is developing a new manufacturing process for its Walker potato chip plant that will suck water out of the potatoes and even allow them to unplug from the city's water supply. Currently, the potatoes, which are composed of 80 percent water, produce a lot of wasted steam as they are sliced and fried. PepsiCo plans to capture the steam and condense it to a water form, which could be used to supply the whole facility's water needs. According the Bloomberg, the process could save the company $1 million every year in water costs.
In 2012, Kohl's made a simple change that will have a big impact on its bottom line — it reduced the wattage on its lighting. By replacing its 32 watt fluorescent tubes with 28 watts tubes in 216 of its stores the company estimates it will save almost 73,000 kilowatt hours of electricity at each location every year. In addition, Kohl's installed LED lighting in 71 of its new or remodeled stores in 2012. The new bulbs should last for 10 years compared to the two-year life span of the previous fixtures.
Walmart decided to cut down on its packaging for its private-label fresh-cut fruit and salads. The company changed the packaging from an oil-based plastic to a corn-based plastic. The simple switch cut down on the packaging's weight by 25 percent and reduced the amount of waste going into the landfills. But it also lowered the cost of packaging by 13 percent, saving Walmart almost $200,000 every year.