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Mistakes Businesses Make When "Going Green"

Going green can save a business time and money, but mistakes are easy to make if you don’t have a plan. We identify the top challenges and explain how to do it right.

Everyone makes mistakes, but some are more preventable than others.

Green computing can help small businesses save time, money and sanity, while conserving energy and efficiency. Some businesses, however, jump into the strategy without a plan, simply for the sake of “going green.” And that can lead to big mistakes.

Avoid those pitfalls. Here’s a look at some of the biggest mistakes businesses make — and how to sidestep them.

  • Starting without a plan. Like any technology implementation, green computing makes the most sense with a comprehensive plan that's developed before any purchasing or implementation. Look at problem areas first, and go from there. For example, if energy usage is a big concern, examine small and large steps that will help, like putting automatic power-down settings in place on weekends.
  • Trying to do too much, too fast. Green computing encompasses a wide range of strategies, from power management for printers to usage of cloud computing (for an overview, see our article, What Is Green Computing?”). Attempting to implement green computing across an entire organization too quickly and too extensively can create hiccups in every area of the enterprise.
  • Failing to create a tiered implementation system. As part of the overall strategy, you should prioritize the steps you plan to take. For instance:
    1. Address paper-waste issues.
    2. Institute energy-efficiency practices.
    3. Reduce the number of desktop computers.

Setting a time frame for these types of green-computing goals is helpful for determining return on income as well.

  • Not thinking about the cloud. Virtualization and cloud computing are considered green-computing strategies because they increase energy efficiency through shared computing power. For example, if 50 companies use the same data center rather than 50 separate data centers, they’ll help reduce overall electricity, cooling and water usage.
  • Ignoring the impact of e-waste. Part of green computing is recognizing the impact of computers and peripherals on the waste stream. While moving to more energy-efficient laptops is important, it’s equally crucial to consider how the older machines are disposed of or recycled. The Environmental Protection Agency has a resource page that details regulations and standards, and answers questions about donation and recycling of used electronics. Link to Staples free recycling page.
  • Seeing green computing as an expense or a pain. Although creating a green-computing plan takes time and some upgrades might mean upfront costs, green-computing strategies can greatly benefit your business. Some companies even make money through this practice (see our article, Forget Saving, Let’s Make Money with Green Computing). Rather than viewing the changes as more items for your already lengthy to-do list, see them as tactics with long-term advantages that benefit the environment, your business and your bottom line.

By sidestepping mistakes like these, going green will be much more efficient and much less painful for your business.

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