By Rehan Ijaz
There is an old saying that nothing is certain in life except for death and taxes. Small businesses could probably add a third item to this list: government regulations. No business owner enjoys dealing with bureaucratic red tape, but it is a reality they face every day nonetheless. Environmental regulations are some of the most complicated.
Environmental regulations vary at the state level. Most are enacted at the federal level under the Environmental Protection Agency. Adhering to environmental regulations can be overwhelming if you are prepared for them, since the text of all existing EPA regulations is over 6,500 times as long as the Constitution and nearly 50 times as long as the Bible.
Fortunately, it will go much more smoothly with the right mindset and compliance plan in place. Here are some tips to stay on the right side of the state and federal environmental regulators.
Conduct an impact assessment of your company’s environmental footprint
You can’t make sure that your company is compliant with state and federal environmental regulations until you understand the impact your business practices actually have on the environment. The EPA Small Business Division advises all companies to conduct an end-to-end assessment of their business practices.
You must identify every possible way that your operations can affect the environment. You must look at the possibility of contaminating the ground, local water supplies and the air.
Find creative ways to minimize electrical and heating consumption
The average business consumes between 15 MWh and 25 MWh of electricity every year. Local regulators in more urban regions tend to have stricter ordinances to minimize electrical use. These policies are usually stricter than most EPA guidelines.
In order to stay compliant, small businesses must find ways to minimize their electrical expenditures. There are number of ways they can go about this. Investing in energy star solutions is a good place to start. The average energy Star certified building consumes 35% less energy. If you operate in a region with strict policies on electrical consumption, this could be one of the best ways to meet your target.
You should also consider investing in alternative energy sources. Solar and geothermal energy units can pay for themselves in 10 years or less. If your company is struggling to be compliant with local environmental laws, you can pay your investment off even more quickly after accounting for environmental fines that you may otherwise pay.
Finally, it is a good idea to invest in a green vehicle. There are plenty of benefits of doing this. You can often qualify for special tax credits and the vehicle may pay for itself over time. One of the best options is to buy a plugged-in electric hybrid vehicle. These can drive for nearly 50 miles on electricity alone, before the gasoline engine kicks in.
Appoint environmental accountability officer
Corporate bureaucracies have senior compliance officers. They delegate their authorities to other employees. Small businesses aren’t as good about assigning accountability. This is one of the biggest reasons that compliance targets break down.
You can’t afford to take this risk when it comes to upholding environmental policies. You need to find someone in your organization to assume accountability for all state and federal environmental laws.
Forge close relationships with environmental regulators
Navigating complex environmental regulations on your own can be serious challenge. The process will be much easier if you get guidance from a trusted official from the regulatory agency.
Build a rapport with someone from EPA or your local state regulator. They will want to work with you to help your company stay compliant. They will provide plenty of resources to guide you through the process.
Rehan Ijaz is an entrepreneur and content strategist passionate about writing stuff for startups. His areas of interest include digital business strategy and strategic decision making. You can follow his latest posts @ShRehanijaz.