Today, many individuals and businesses want to reduce their environmental footprint. As a small business owner, going green can have a positive impact not just on the environment but also on your community. And while implementing energy-efficient measures can be costly, you don’t necessarily have to go it alone.
Why go green?
From an economic and practical standpoint, going green can have a number of upsides for your business. It can improve its overall efficiency, contribute to a healthier workplace environment for your employees and boost your public image, which leads to higher sales. “There is often a perception that a clean environment is going to cost everyone — that green initiatives come with a premium,” say Patti and Jack Phillips for The Guardian. “This is not always the case. In fact, there are more opportunities for positive ROI values with green projects than negative ROI values.”
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are many compelling reasons to go green specifically with regards to building infrastructure. “The built environment has a vast impact on the natural environment, human health, and the economy,” it says, adding that green building strategies can improve air and water quality, conserve and restore natural resources, reduce operating costs, and improve productivity and quality of life.
In other words, even without a loan to help you upgrade your infrastructure or implement other energy-efficient measures, going green may still be worth it for you in the long term.
Getting a green loan
There are many ways to get a green loan, though the most common forms of green financing come via government agencies, conventional loan programs and lending institutions. Some states may also offer their own green lending programs. Green loans can often be used for a wide variety of things, ranging from the installation of solar panels and heating and cooling system upgrades to LED lighting and landscaping. These loans take on many different forms, such as rebate options, revolving funds and various repayment methods.
But before you consider a loan to fund your energy-saving efforts, you should first identify exactly what areas of your business you are trying to improve. You’re probably not going to be able to secure a loan for going paperless or using recycled paper; however, bigger investments can help convince lenders that you’re serious about going green.
If you’re a farmer or rancher, you can also obtain conservation loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency for approved conservation projects. These include “installing a water-conserving irrigation system, vegetative practices like creating permanent pasture, or management practices like an integrated pest management system.”
At the end of the day, there may be a lot of different funding options available to you if you are seeking to upgrade your business to conserve energy, become more sustainable and be more environmentally friendly. Ask an expert at your local financial institution about green loans to better understand exactly how you can benefit.