Many small businesses don’t have the time or resources to devote to sustainability. Some just don’t feel it’s important. However, there are some relatively easy solutions to these two challenges.
Consider connecting to or joining social media groups, business groups, and sustainability networking groups that are available in many cities and communities. Your local Small Business Development Center, community colleges, or universities may offer classes or have a list of local resources available to assist you. You may be able to get a summer intern looking for some real world experience to conduct research and develop a sustainability plan for your business.
Check with your local utility and regulatory agencies (air, water, waste) to learn about events or classes they may offer in energy efficiency, water conservation, sustainability planning, or waste management and recycling. Some of these organizations and agencies may even have a small business assistance group or an Ombudsman that can help. Take advantage of these free consulting resources!
|Photo: E&B Auto Repair Owner Mike Margulis in his office.|
Even though some actions such as upgrading lighting can provide quick returns, it may be difficult to come up with the upfront investment costs for your sustainability projects. Many utility companies now offer their customers free or low-cost energy audits, along with rebates and financing programs to help make energy upgrades with minimal upfront costs. Some utilities also offer an energy solutions program to make it easy for local businesses to upgrade their lighting, refrigeration, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) equipment, while others assist building owners and design teams to integrate innovative technologies into new construction projects. There may also be some federal tax incentives available for energy upgrades.
The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) provides services for business growth, created the Business Portal, and developed Business Quick Start Guides that list local, state, and federal requirements that apply to a number of business types (e.g., automotive repair, barber shops and beauty salons, bakeries, etc.). The California Business Incentives Gateway (CBIG) brings all the state and local business development incentives (e.g., targeted tax breaks, training grants, permit assistance, reduced utility rates, etc.) to a single website. Check with your city or local government, as they may have loan or rebate programs for green business projects. The CoolCalifornia Funding Wizard is an excellent tool for finding rebates, grants, or financial incentives for sustainability projects in your area.