By Rehan Ijaz

With the large amount of energy required to run a business, developing a sustainable energy plan has become a necessity. Buildings alone account for 40 percent of energy consumption in the U.S., so even small adjustments can have a big impact.

How can you position your business as a leader in the green revolution? If you’re determined to make positive changes, don’t wait to start putting practices into place to optimize energy use throughout the company.

Form a Sustainability Plan

Start by assessing your current consumption and identifying areas in need of improvement. Research what other companies in your industry are doing to lower their requirements, and use these tactics as examples for your own goals. Arranging action steps in a clear timeline helps you and your staff stays on target with necessary changes. Because implementing sustainable energy across the entire company is a big job, breaking it down into these smaller steps makes it easier to achieve your ultimate goal.

Optimize Empty Spaces

Parking lots, roofs and other unused outdoor areas on your property are perfect locations for arrays of solar panels. Investing in solar energy makes your business less reliant on the main power grid and greatly reduces the amount of resources consumed every day. Switching to energy-efficient light bulbs can further reduce your environmental footprint.

Make sure energy doesn’t literally drain away by finding and filling gaps in insulation and investing in better doors and windows. A full energy assessment will show you where indoor air is escaping so that you can address the problem and minimize loss.

Be Mindful of Waste

What and how much you throw out can have as big an impact on the environment as energy consumption. Trash sent to landfills contributes to greenhouse gas emissions as it decomposes, and much of what you throw away requires a great deal of resources to manufacture in the first place.

It’s also easy to waste energy without knowing it. In addition to improving insulation, consider updating your HVAC system and roofing with EnergyStar products. You’ll not only improve efficiency but also save money on your energy bills.

Track Progress

Develop a reporting process for assessing your sustainability plan at regular intervals. Stay in close contact with contractors, and regroup with staff members to determine if your company is on track to meet its goals. If something isn’t working out on schedule, find out what’s standing in the way and what changes can be made to overcome challenges. Review your original timeline, and make adjustments in your plan to ensure your company meets the established goals.

Facing the challenge of creating a smart energy plan for your business helps make the entire company more sustainable. Customers and shareholders appreciate businesses stepping up to the plate and showing concern for the environment. Every change you make sets an example for other local entrepreneurs and touches off a positive ripple effect with the potential to transform your community.

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.