Green efforts extend to payroll

The word “green” gets thrown around a lot these days, but few try to define it and fewer still actually do anything about it. Here’s my rather simple definition: Green means being responsible with what we have and with the place we live. If we each do what we can, it will make a huge difference.

As a business, we’ve done what we can over the years to be green. We recycle glass, plastic, cardboard and shredded and nonshredded paper. Even with six or seven people working in our office, we produce only one small bag of actual, nonrecyclable trash a week. By comparison, we recycle three to four full cans each month.

Our results at home are about the same — one bag of trash a week. We recycle all the regular items and compost other materials.

On an annual basis, I think our efforts make a big difference. Granted, it’s a bit of work. But the last time I looked, we don’t have another planet to which we can move. So it’s my problem and it’s your problem to take care of the planet we have.

When we remodeled and rebuilt the building that houses our business — we gutted it down to the bricks and started over — we did so with green in mind. But green must make business sense, too. We designed from the start to be efficient. We choose efficient lighting, insulated over code, installed new “low-E” glass and a 9.6 kilowatt solar system.

It was amazing to me no one had ever insulated this building — at all. If you own or lease an old downtown building, check to see if it’s insulated. If it’s not, install some insulation. It’s an easy way to save money.

We did the math in the planning stages of our renovation project and the return on investment looked really good. It looks even better now, especially with the new tiered utility rates Xcel Energy has imposed.

In our first year, we decreased our net spending on electricity by $70 to $90 a month. Going green has been a good business decision for us — it’s actually making us money. Those numbers will only get better over time. Almost two years in and we still have no electrical bill.

Now, what about a green payroll?

The United States produces and ships huge volumes of paper. An average payroll for 15 to 20 employee involves 45 to 50 sheets of paper per process, plus envelopes and fuel to mail or ship. As you add up all the payrolls annually, that’s a lot of wasted paper.

We encourage as many of our clients as possible to go green. What this means is that employees receive their wages as direct deposits into their bank accounts and receive check stubs, W-2s and W-4s through the Internet. In most cases, green payroll saves employers time in passing out paychecks and employees have historical access to their check stubs.

Take a look at how you can serve your clients in a more green manner.

For us, going green has been both a good financial decision and the responsible thing to do. If you’re not recycling, get started at home and at the office. It’s easy to do. And with a little encouragement, your employees will get on board and you could even win some points with them.

At work, we use Curbside Recycling Indefinitely. For more information about curbside recycling services, call 241-1036 or visit the Web site at

Have an energy audit conducted at your home and business. Find out what you can do with what you have. Small changes really do make a big difference.

Resources and assistance also is available through the new Greenbacks program in the Grand Valley. For more information, log on to the Web site at

If you have questions about the other things we’ve done or want more information about a green payroll, give us a call.