In the age of advancement and prosperity, there is an increased emphasis on protecting the natural environment surrounding us. Recognizing the significance of the environment plays an important role in our lives leading businesses to take preventive measures and create awareness among people.
According to U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA), the commercial energy consumption in the United States was around 1.38 trillion kWh out of a total of 3.95 kWh. Hence, businesses need to take a proactive approach and try to optimize energy consumption by utilizing renewable sources of energy.
Below are the top ten ways accounting firms can go green.
1. Eliminate Paper
Is paperless accounting good for the environment?
While you may need to use some additional devices, the mass reduction of usage of paper can be highly beneficial for the environment. According to a CCH research report, 45% of accounting firms now use electronic documentation.
Hardware technologies like smartphones and tablets allow the creation and distribution of electronic documents. Software technologies like online storage, cloud hosting, and emails help accounting firm reduce the paper use and remove the clutter. It helps accounting companies be green and go paperless.
“Once you get paper out of the processes, you can begin to take advantage of the benefits of digital processes in the cloud.” – Doug Sleeter
Below are some strategies to reduce paper usage:
- Scan paper-based documents such as invoices and receipts and convert them into a digital format.
- Build a system within the company by assigning tasks to a team specialized in document conversion. It would be easier to sort and store well organized electronic documents.
- Find areas which are acting as barriers to a paperless accounting system and prepare responses to each.
- Encourage electronic sharing of documents and avoid unnecessary printing.
2. Saving Electricity
According to the Sierra Club, computers used by businesses waste electricity worth $1 billion every year.
Businesses can reduce their workplace energy utilization by adopting practices such as turning off the system and power strips when not being used. If the power strip is not switched off, electricity is still being consumed. It would help your company consume a limited amount of power.
3. Green Transportation
Transportation is one of the aspects one cannot do without. But the existing systems come with a number of issues such as environmental degradation, global warming, and emission of greenhouse gases.
Using public transport, driving a hybrid vehicle, or carpooling to reach office encourages an environmental-friendly environment. For today’s diverse workforce, a flexible workplace policy can be highly beneficial for accounting employees.
In fact, accounting firms can offer incentives for employees using public transportation or carpooling. This would not only improve air quality, reduce the carbon footprint of your accounting firm and reduce the vehicles on the road, but also help build a strong bond among employees and highlight environmental commitment by your firm.
Green transportation revolves around making better travel choices and efficient use of resources. Making a shift to green transportation will help clear the atmosphere of toxic gases.
4. Use Recycled Paper
It can be difficult for accounting companies to go completely paperless. But their choice of paper products can have a huge impact on the environment. Using recycled paper can be a great choice for accounting firms. It is environmentally responsible and inexpensive.
5. Rethink Traditional Office
For your accounting firm to be successful or productive, you don’t need big office space. If there are unused conference rooms, empty offices, or open area with no purpose, you can downgrade to a smaller space which will reduce the carbon footprint and also help cut down business costs as there would be fewer utilities and minimum maintenance required.
6. Toss Out Fax Machines
With digital documents and PDF editors easily available, there is no need for fax machines in offices. Digital documents are more secure and easy to forward to the client or your team members.
Adopting these steps in your accounting firm can be a big step towards a green accounting firm and also a great way to cut costs. With the cost saved from minimizing paper use or going paperless, your firm can easily transition to a green workplace.
7. Use Environmental-friendly Products in The Office
While accounting firms may not have the budget to purchase exclusively sustainable office products, they can still focus on some areas having a huge overall impact such as greener electronics, non-toxic highlighters, and refillable ink cartridges, which would avoid the disposal of lots of harmful waste.
Another eco-friendly step one can implement – using filtered water instead of bottled water. According to research by Recycle Across America, people throw 2.5 million plastic water bottles every hour. Using filtered water not only helps the environment but is also cost-effective.
8. Minimize Heating and Cooling in Office
Do you reprogram your thermostat often? It is recommended to do it at least twice a year in the most extreme climate. As per EIA, the annual energy consumption for air conditioning is a significant 14.7 percent.
During the summers, keeping your office temperature a bit warmer than usual would help decrease energy use. When there are not many people in the office, turn up the thermostat more.
In the winters, adjust the thermostat in order to keep the office some degrees cooler than usual, especially when there is no one in the office. An annual tune-up for the thermostat would help keep your HVAC system in the best condition, using minimum energy.
9. Increase Mobilization
A mobile workforce can bring many benefits to an accounting firm. Many forward-thinking firms have implemented this technology. By eliminating the need for daily commute to the office, employees will minimize their carbon footprint.
With cloud accounting solutions, many accounting processes can be streamlined as the employees can access the documents and files anytime from anywhere in the world.
10. Educate Employees
Most green strategies implemented by accounting firms focus on different activities of their employees. Firms can implement training sessions to educate their employees about eco-friendly methods to work.
It includes educating them about effective paper usage and reduces energy drains from items in the office. Include a recycling program in the office and teach your staff to use it correctly.
Most CPAs or people in the accounting industry are still unaware of the significance of Going Green. While there are no clear-cut policies in place when it comes to the environment, we can expect green accounting to become a practice and reality in the near future.
Let’s discuss in the comments section below what other ways accounting firms can go green.
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