50 Ways to Green Your Business

Half-a-hundred options for cleaning up your business, from the universal (catch that rainwater!) to the specific (lose the plastic bowls!). Mix, match–join in.

11 Ford has sped up its painting process with technology that applies all three coats in one go, eliminating the need for the costly and energy-sucking drying equipment used between coats. In the process, Ford will reduce CO2 emissions from production by 15% and volatile organic compound emissions by 10%. More important (for the bottom line), the process will save $7 per car by reducing painting time by 20%.


12 Fox has redefined eco-boom on the set of 24, switching from regular fuel to renewable-source biodiesel to feed the show’s many explosions and car-chase scenes. 24 uses more than 5,000 gallons of fuel a month, and the switch hasn’t increased costs.

13 In a bid to shame lead-foot drivers, next year Fiat will roll out EcoDrive, a program developed by Microsoft. The system records performance data, such as CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, onto a USB key. Plug the key into a PC, and the program will analyze the data and provide driving tips to lower emissions.

14 Finally, something to do with skunked beer: In a partnership with Colorado engineering firm Merrick & Co., Coors produces 3 million gallons of ethanol a year by distilling waste beer. The brewery sells 200-proof ethanol to Valero Energy to be distributed at gas stations in Colorado. The program has been so successful that Coors doubled its capacity by building a $2.3 million facility in 2005.

15 This October, the Sierra Nevada Brewery in notorious party town Chico, California, installed a 250-kilowatt fuel-cell power unit and officially dropped off the grid. Drunk with power (energy efficiency is expected to be double what it was getting from Pacific Gas & Electric), the brewery plans to sell the surplus wattage back to the electric company.

16 Let there be less light! That was the conclusion of an energy audit at the Hong Kong headquarters of Star TV, News Corp.’s Asian broadcasting subsidiary, which found that by removing one out of every three fluorescent tube lights–about 1,300 in all–it would trim its CO2 emissions by 18,000 pounds a year.

17 Used to be, a 55-gallon drum full of silicon wafers unsuitable for computers sold for a paltry $100. But as the solar-power industry has taken off, those same chips now have real value; they work fine in solar cells. Today, chip makers are scrambling into a new market valued at $750 million. This year, Texas Instruments alone will sell about 1 million scrap wafers for $8 million. By reusing the silicon, TI estimates it has eliminated 15 million pounds of CO2 emissions and saved 3.7 million watts of electric power since the program began.


18 The hot zone in any office is the server room, where the ceiling-high racks of computers generate constant heat. The water that chills the rooms by absorbing heat is usually sent to cooling towers to evaporate. At Intel ‘s newest data center, in Haifa, Israel, the hot water will instead be recycled to warm the building in winter and to heat the showers in the gym year-round.

19 By 2009, the cost of powering and cooling data centers will eclipse the cost of the servers themselves. Hence IBM‘s Project Big Green, a billion-dollar-a-year investment in technology to double the efficiency of servers that currently can run at only 30% capacity–a move that could save clients 40% in IT-power costs.

20 Few things scream “waste” as loudly as the plastic containers you fill at salad bars. Even Whole Foods Market used them–until this spring, when it replaced them with ones made of sugar-cane waste. Salad containers have a useful life of about 35 minutes, but the plastic ones have an actual life of thousands of years; the new ones decompose in about 90 days.

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