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Brag About Being Green
Originally published: 04.01.11 by Mark Tibbetts
The HVACR industry has been emphasizing the environmental benefits of high-performance products, but less attention has been paid to how contractors can reduce the environmental impact of their businesses and then benefit from it.
Beyond promoting energy-saving products, contractors should explore ways to reduce waste generated by their operations through recycling, minimizing waste, reusing, and encouraging others (suppliers, customers, and employees) to do the same.
How to do it? Establish goals, create a plan on how to reach them, incorporate these processes into your business plan, and then include this information and ongoing results in marketing messages aimed at current and prospective customers.
Your business might already be doing some of these things. For example, high commodity prices encourage recycling of scrap metal; federal regulations require the reclamation of refrigerant; and many contractors recycle waste mercury thermostats through wholesalers participating in the Thermostat Recycling Corp.’s (TRC) programs. Now it’s time to reap the benefits by telling your customers.
According to a Boston Consulting Group study, consumers believe businesses can have a greater impact than private individuals in acting on green issues, particularly health and safety. Consumers also expect companies to do so. Moreover, these same
But simply claiming to be “green” isn’t enough, as many consumers are skeptical about companies that claim this. Contractors need to convince consumers by documenting their efforts. For example, post your waste-diversion goals and performance on your website. Another example — collect data from your GPS system to illustrate how the system helps you to reduce miles traveled, a direct reduction in the carbon emissions your business generates. Post this on your website or include it in an online newsletter.
The recycling of mercury thermostats is another opportunity. Why not put a “recycling fee” on your invoice and then waive the charge? Not only does this remind your staff to recycle, it informs your customers of your company’s environmental commitment. Also, if you routinely waive the fee, it gives the customer a sense of value from the service.
As long as consumers remain concerned about the environment, being environmentally conscious will bring value to business. Capturing advantage from this trend requires contractors to think “green” not only in how they operate their businesses, but also in how they promote it to their customers.
* Capturing the Green Advantage for Consumer Companies, The Boston Consulting Group, January, 2009.
Mark Tibbetts is the Executive Director of the Thermostat Recycling Corp., a not-for-profit corporation supported by 29 manufacturers that historically branded and sold mercury thermostats in the U.S. TRC assumes all costs to transport and properly dispose of mercury-switch thermostats removed from service. Nationally, TRC has over 2,000 HVACR wholesale distributors collecting waste mercury thermostats on its behalf. For more information, go to www.thermostat-recycle.org.
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