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    10 tips to “green-up” your business practices

    Graphics | January 1, 2008 | By:

    Green. The word is being spoken more frequently than ever before. Whether your customers are driving you or you are already focused on green, the movement is driving the industry. Here are some tips to “green-up” your business practice.

    Get lit. Swap traditional fluorescent or incandescent lights for energy efficient T8 fixtures. The conversion pays for itself in just a few years because of the lower wattage the lamps require. At the same time your workers will benefit from the fixtures’ brighter, more consistent light.

    Use green materials in your end products. Many customers like the idea of having sustainable products in their homes and businesses—and often will pay more for them.

    Automate the cutting process. Nesting software and a computerized cutting table can reduce your scraps and you’ll need to order less yardage per job.

    Repurpose bits and pieces. Keep fabric scraps (especially commonly used colors) for product repairs.

    Maintain your HVAC system. Have ducts checked for leaks annually and ask the technician to make sure the furnace and air conditioning units are working at maximum efficiency.

    Shift your shifts. Consider using production equipment at night when there is less demand for electricity and local rates may be cheaper.

    Admit that there are seasons. Unless you’re running high-temperature and humidity-sensitive equipment, your shop doesn’t have to be exactly the same interior climate all year round. Try 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter to reduce energy costs.

    Insulate. Many specialty fabric shops tend to be cavernous buildings with high ceilings. Heating and cooling these areas can be expensive and potentially wasteful. Installed correctly, high r-value insulation will help slow down the heat transfer.

    Spend less time at the gas pump. Group your client visits according to geographic location. If you’re expanding or relocating, do so with geography in mind.

    Patronize your peers. Specialty fabric products can help you reduce energy costs. Put awnings or solar screens on your windows. Consider re-roofing with a reflective white membrane rather than a traditional black asphalt or shingle roof.

    Jamie Swedberg is a former magazine editor and current freelance writer based near Athens, Ga.

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