News flash: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides $3.2 billion for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. Under the Act, $2.8 billion will be distributed by formula, and $400 million will be distributed through competitive grants.
Going green is a foot-stool balanced on the “legs” of three principles: being green is a responsible thing to do, it saves money, and, when combined with existing marketing strategies, being green can make money for your business. Businesses that are ready to step up will stand above the crowd and get noticed.
Leg #1: Being Responsible
O&P begins with an inherent advantage. Any health-related industry grows from roots fixed in compassion and the belief that when something goes awry with the human organism, there are ways to care for it and possibly repair it. Therefore, it is no stretch for the O&P profession generally to embrace a variety of green initiatives because such practices involve good stewardship and a positive outlook toward solving environmental problems.
Bill Jeracki, CP, partner in Orthotic Prosthetic Solutions, Fort Collins, Colorado, said his company has been “embracing green” in a number of ways. “We converted to compact fluorescent light bulbs when they became available, and when the first safe resins appeared a few years ago, we began using them,” Jeracki says. “We’re just now seeing adhesives that are safe.”
Jeracki adds that when he first started his business in 2000, there were no opportunities to recycle the waste products associated with the manufacturing process.
“But the city of Fort Collins has expanded the recycling opportunities and encouraged us to use them by making it easy,” he says. “Plastic laminate can’t be recycled, but [now] scraps of olefin plastic can.”
Much of what makes that first leg of the three-legged stool possible is commitment-the commitment of local governments to sound environmental practices and the commitment of private business to stay alert to eco-friendly opportunities. Those conditions both contribute to the next leg, the potential for significant savings, particularly in energy.
Leg #2: Saving Money
In the green world, saving money is a little like learning how to play the guitar. It is easy to make a little bit of music, and it is easy to save some money-simply by following a path lit with compact fluorescent (CF) lighting. CF bulbs can brighten up an office or work area in attractive ways and save money at the same time. McCabe Callahan, owner of Mugs Coffee Lounge, Fort Collins, stands to save $2,000 per year in energy costs just because he switched to CFs.
“We went from using 2200 watts to light the business down to 411 watts,” he says.
Replacing a burned out incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb starts a process that winds its way to incentives for saving even more money. For comprehensive retrofits that require some time to recover the initial investment, some governmental entities-city, state, and federal-will pitch in and support the effort both financially and with public recognition. A company interested in making small changes might first look to other local businesses to see what is possible and then look to the city for help in executing a plan.
For example, a specialty light-fixture business can assess your needs and then set you up with basic “going-green” items like CF bulbs, an easy step that changes the wattage without changing the look. Other options exist as well. Lisa Guerriero with The Light Center, a specialty lighting showroom in Fort Collins, says, “You can replace 65 watts [worth of incandescent lighting] with 9-12 watts of light from LEDs.” LEDs are more expensive, though-one fixture costs about $120-so the next step is a call to city agencies to find out if subsidies for your potential investment exist.