Like a growing number of businesses today, Green CPA® strives to be more sustainable. Here are some steps we have taken along that path:
Think Globally, Act Locally
We are involved in the local community, as a customer, a vendor, and a contributor. We make it a priority to purchase goods and services locally. We are committed to giving a share of profits to charity through cash and in-kind donations.
We’re a semi-paperless office; paper isn’t used unless absolutely necessary. We use e-filing and electronic document management whenever possible. Calendars, time sheets, engagement letters, and invoices are all paperless. We also pay bills paperlessly as much as possible. When we do use paper, it’s at least 30% post-consumer content, preferably Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) fiber source certified. Business cards, letterhead, and envelopes are all printed locally with petroleum-free, non-toxic inks on recycled paper.
Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, Rethink
We refill printer ink cartridges, donate surplus office equipment, and securely recycle office paper. In addition, we compost and grow vegetables on site. In our recent office remodel, we reused doors, hardwood floors, 2×4′s, hardware, and other building materials to keep them out of landfills.We also recycled scrap metal and donated surplus building materials that could be used elsewhere.
Use Water Wisely
We replaced bottled water delivery with a reverse osmosis water filter. We added aerators to 3 faucets, and replaced 5+ gallon per flush toilets with 1.6 GPF (a 68%+ reduction in water usage). Outside, we planted native perennials, eliminated lawn sprinkling, and added rain barrels for irrigation of plantings.
Use Cleaner Power
We switched to an electric utility that buys 100% renewable power, generated 100% in Illinois. In 2013, we added a 2.43kW solar array.
Limit the Use of Toxic Chemicals
We’ve made a conscious effort to use fewer toxic and hazardous chemicals wherever possible. We stopped applying chemical fertilizers and pesticides to our lawn. In addition, we strive to use environmentally-friendlier alternatives. For example, we use eco-friendly cleaning supplies and perchloroethylene-free “undry” cleaning. We recycle batteries to keep them out of landfills. In our remodel, we used zero VOC primer and paint, and low VOC floor finish.
Thirty-five percent of the electricity generated in the US is consumed by commercial office space. We didn’t need to occupy a large, commercial office space, and choose not to. In addition, we replaced an old furnace and air conditioner with a high-efficiency HVAC system with Puron refrigerant and a programmable thermostat.
We’re a member of the Small Business ENERGY STAR Network, and use ENERGY STAR office equipment and appliances.
We replaced 60+ Watt incandescent bulbs with 14 Watt LED and 15 Watt compact fluorescent lights (a 75%+ decrease in electricity consumption). In addition, we turn off the lights to take advantage of daylight when possible. We’ve unplugged unnecessary devices, use smartstrips to reduce phantom loads, and installed a smart meter.
Based on an energy audit in 2013, we made several energy efficiency upgrades, including removing an unused chimney and fireplace, air sealing and adding insulation. As a result, we reduced the total air leakage rate by 22%, and brought attic insulation up to R-48, and were awarded an Illinois House Performance Silver Certificate.
Thanks to energy efficiency and renewable energy measures, we’re saving 50% on our electric bills.
Many of these steps were taken as part of our commitment to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions by 10% in 2010. But we’re just getting started. Future projects include:
- Reduce paper consumption further, through enhanced document management
- Use daylight more effectively
- Replace old windows with more energy-efficient ones
- Switch from gasoline-burning car to an electric vehicle
- Install an EV charging station
- Add more solar, including solar hot water!
Please check back for updates and more statistics!