Start with energy efficient design
Depending on how much control you have, you may want to begin with the design of the building construction or refurbishment, the fittings and materials used. Aim for low impact design with features such as:
- Good natural light orientation and large windows – tinted if necessary; even better, double glazed.
- Skylights, which can be a beautiful design feature as well as allowing good natural light.
- Concrete floors sustainably made from limestone, which can be polished, coloured, and stencilled with geometric patterns or even custom-made designs that contribute to your branding.
- LED lights, preferably teamed with motion detectors, timers and dimmers.
- Thermal insulation – choose environmentally benign insulating materials such as cellulose, wool or cotton.
- Low or no VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paints.
- Natural, renewable flooring such as cork and bamboo, or recycled timbers.
- Renewable energy sources such as solar panels, or the renewable package option from your energy supplier.
Follow through with the fitout
This is where it’s crucial that you work with a design and construction team that understands your objectives and how to achieve them. You need to be clear about the style and look you’re after, and that where possible the work areas, displays or other components are reclaimed, reused or repurposed. And if some work needs to be done to make all that ‘re-whatevered’ stuff look brand new, so be it – it’s still better than starting from scratch. If there are some things that you can’t find a use for, like old metal displays or racking, send them for recycling and pick up some spare cash for your trouble.
You can also consider green but sophisticated and economically beneficial items like:
- Indoor gardens and vertical green walls that help increase oxygen content and create a calming, natural ambience.
- Digital menus and receipts.
- Electronic point of sale displays, which can be updated quickly and inexpensively.
- Printers, copiers, fridges, registers and other business appliances with high Energy Star ratings.
And stay green day to day
Once you’ve started down the green path, stay on it. Let your customers know what you’re doing and why, and they will respect you for it and will usually be happy to comply. Things to consider include:
- Reduced packaging and optional bags.
- Low or non-toxic cleaners and bathroom soaps, towels etc.
- Compostable ‘disposable’ cups, plates, cutlery and containers.
- Non-toxic pest control.
- Recycling everything that can be recycled, and working to find ways to reduce your landfill waste.
You can operate a perfectly sophisticated, technologically advanced and efficient business while caring for the environment and the impact your activities will have on it, without overdoing the cost. And it all starts with your choice of premises, design and fitout.