Complying with environmental regulations is the minimum that is required, but what is expected of you beyond that? Consumer expectations have evolved. Today, businesses and industries are expected to do their part to proactively protect the environment. Compliance may not be enough anymore. Going beyond regulations can be a good business decision with benefits such as:
- Reduced regulatory fees and staff time
- Health and environmental benefits
- Increased competitiveness and efficiency
- Green marketing potential
- Employee satisfaction, retention, and attraction
- Business resiliency
Reduce your regulatory obligations by decreasing regulated emissions and wastes. Implement cost-saving environmental projects in all areas of your business to increase sustainability and resilience. Contact Angie Bourdaghs (651-757-2176) about the benefits of going beyond compliance. Other programs that can assist you with pollution prevention:
- The Retiree Environmental Technical Assistance Program (RETAP) provides no-cost, non-regulatory energy efficiency and waste reduction assessments for small businesses in Minnesota.
- Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP), a University of Minnesota outreach program, helps Minnesota businesses prevent pollution, use resources efficiently, and reduce energy use and costs.
- Minnesota Waste Wise offers consulting on waste reduction, recycling, and organics management for Minnesota businesses.
Reduce air emissions
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) come from industrial processes and materials all around us, such as the fumes from coatings, inks, solvents, adhesives, gasoline. They contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog. Reduce VOCs by making changes to manufacturing processes and heating equipment, and with business decisions, such as purchasing safer products. Fewer VOCs can help:
- Save money by reducing regulatory obligations and protective-equipment purchases
- Improve indoor air quality and employee health, and reduce odors
- Upgrade product quality or make processes more efficient
- Enhance public perception of your business
- Improve local air quality
Contact Kari Cantarero (651-757-2875) for technical assistance. See the Funding opportunities page to find funding for your VOC reduction efforts. Learn what other businesses have done to reduce VOCs on the Successful emissions-reduction projects page.
Wayne’s Auto Body (Hastings) took a big step toward being more environmentally friendly, with big changes in its operations in order to reduce the amount of VOCs it produces.
Alternative landscaping equipment
Gas-powered landscaping equipment is a significant source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other air emissions, particularly in urban areas. The average gas-powered push mower produces 14.76 pounds of air pollution in an hour — the same amount as driving your car for 200 miles! These pollutants are harmful to equipment operators and the community's air quality. Switch to battery- or propane-powered equipment to cut your air emissions, protect your employees from pollutants and engine noise, save money on gas, and safeguard community health. Learn more on the Grants for alternative landscaping equipment page.
Energy use and transportation
- Start with something easy like a lighting retrofit where rebates are available and payback is fast. Check out what type of ballast you have – move away from T12 or T8 ballasts to the more efficient T5 ballasts.
- Natural light is another great option. Once the infrastructure is in place, sunlight is free. Plus, daylighting has been shown to increase employee productivity, reduce absenteeism, and improve morale.
- Install motion sensors on lights in bathroom, offices, and low-traffic areas.
- Get a reduced-cost energy audit from your local utility. Contact EnergySmart to get connected with energy efficiency programs in your area.
- Window awnings can reduce the summer heat gain of west-facing windows by 77%.
- Choose renewable energy. You can often sign up for wind-generated power through your electric utility (such as Xcel’s Windsource program). Consider participating in a community solar garden or leasing/purchasing solar panels
- Purchase fuel-efficient fleet vehicles.
- Include nearby bus or train routes and Nice Ride bike rack locations on your website’s map/directions page. Provide bike parking. Generally make it easier for customers and employees to use alternative transportation.
- Install an electric vehicle charger in your parking lot.
Facilities and operations
- Purchase paper products with the highest recycled content possible, preferably certified by a third party for sustainability.
- Switch to paperless receipts to reduce paper waste and staff exposure to BPA and BPS.
- Locate your business on a brownfield. MN Brownfields has info on financial resources, common obstacles, and how to get started on land recycling. The Minnesota Brownfields Resource Guide collects information on loans and grants for cleaning up industrial properties.
- Incorporate green building practices and green building products, especially reused or reclaimed materials, fixtures, and furniture.
- Hire landscaping and snow removal companies that are certified in lawn/turf maintenance and smart salting (limiting salt use on sidewalks and parking lots). Certified operators know how to minimize the impact of their work on water in nearby lakes and streams.
- The Minnesota Materials Exchange can help you find or get rid of office equipment. If you’re in the Twin Cities metro area, the U of MN ReUse program is another great resource. They post new items on their Facebook page regularly.