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Green Ideas that Save You Money
How our green business decisions turned out 15 years later.

Plastic water bottles create huge waste.
Plastic water bottles create huge waste.

When I opened the WeBeFit Training Center in 2007, my focus was on how to provide the best experience for clients. I spared no expense on the equipment, fixtures and amenities. But along the way, I had an engineer and an accountant that wanted me to constantly consider “green” options.

My idea of green was compact fluorescent lights that made you look washed out; cleaning products that barely worked, and employees forced to follow behind customers, constantly turning things off. So I made a green pledge. I told my engineer and accountant that any green solution must meet the following criteria.

First, our priority is the comfort and convenience of our customers. Green solutions should never be inconvenient or ugly.

Second, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) should ultimately produce some financial savings. Lower energy, sewer, water bills or reduced waste.

Third, also acceptable are solutions that do the following.

  1. Significantly extend the life of existing products.
  2. Reduce work required of employees maintaining or replacing worn-out items.
  3. Allow our facilities to operate through power interruptions, loss of water or during other emergencies.

Not only can green solutions meet many of the requirements of our green pledge, but some also provide unanticipated bonuses that make them far more valuable than the alternatives.

Most appointments are booked for a half hour and one hour in my training center. Occasionally we would experience “drift” as one session carried over into another. I used alarms to stay on schedule, but it wasn’t enjoyable hearing them constantly going off for all the trainers.

Smart bulbs can change color on a schedule. So I filled my facility with smart LED’s and programmed half to turn red, for one minute, before the half-hour and hour mark. Then they would switch to green for one minute. The red let my clients and I know that their session was ending, while the green told me it was time to start the next one.

Smart bulbs can be used to automatically turn lights on and off when you enter infrequently used rooms, to switch on outdoor lights at sunset and turn them off at sunrise. They can increase brightness during cloudy days and dim when bright outside. These features make them worth far more than just what they save in energy.

Water and sewer are the next targets. Sinks that only work when you put your hand under the faucet and toilets that flush when you stand up or leave. The direct saving is from water because they’re not left on when someone finishes. The added benefit is that germs aren’t passed from one person to the next as they turn handles or flush.

Purchasing energy-efficient appliances and equipment is obvious, but you also need to monitor something called “vampire energy drain.” Many electronic devices, like stereo systems, continue to draw power, even when they’re not in use. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans spend about $19 billion a year on the vampire energy used by inactive electronic devices.

Our solution was to plug electronic devices into uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). When we leave each evening, clicking one switch on the UPS turns off all the connected devices. As a bonus, when we lose power, everything connected to those UPS devices continues to work because they're connected to a battery.

If you’re looking to make changes in your facility, take a minute to document anything that’s being carried in and thrown out. One of the biggest consumables we had was the water bottles we gave free to our clients. On an average week, we go through 18 cases or 432 bottles.

We installed a high-quality water filtration system and purchased a couple hundred stainless steel water bottles. Every client is given a bottle of cold filtered water, and when they’re done, we sanitize and refill the bottles. We started using those bottles in 2008. In 15 years, we’ve saved ourselves from buying about 324,000 plastic bottles.

Stainless steel bottles replace plastic for huge savings.
Stainless steel bottles replace plastic for huge savings.

We can keep working when the power goes out. We can refill bottles as we need and not rely on what stores have in stock. Fewer germs are spread around, and our lights keep us on track. We’ve also saved an average of $6,826 a year, for a 15 year total of at least $102,403.

WeBeFit is a small business. Imagine how much good you could do if you have large stores or multiple locations. Information on these ideas and dozens more are on our free website, GreenKeyWest.com.

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2/22/2022
Updated 4/28/2022