Western Extralite was named this year’s winner of tED magazine’s Greenest of the Green award. So with Earth Day approaching, we asked the Kansas City, Mo.-based distributorship for their tips on how to make your company greener.
- Create a culture that encourages employees to make suggestions and become actively involved in the greening process. “One of the things that I like about our efforts is that they just kind of bubble up. We’ve created a culture where people feel free to offer their ideas,” Tom Isenberg, president, noted.
- Partner with local utilities to take advantage of rebates and incentives. Western Extralite made incremental changes that lowered demand for electricity and led to a healthier business environment and world. Those changes accelerated in the 2000s and were expedited by an array of tax incentives and utility and product rebates.
- Do things that make sense for your business. The greening of Western Extralite actually started 17 years ago, long before the notion of launching a “Go Green” campaign. The company’s first green capital investment was a box crusher. “The driver was strictly economic,” Tom Isenberg admitted. “Not that the environment wasn’t already part of the culture—because it was—but the box crusher was a capital expense, so we did the numbers, and it made sense.”
- Be aware of green opportunities and take advantage of them. “We’ve gained some institutional knowledge that will help us as we move forward. If we were to build another facility, there is no question that we would put skylights in it,” Tom Isenberg noted, adding that the participatory culture that Western Extralite has established almost ensures ongoing greening.
- Continue to evaluate new technologies as they enter the market. In June 2011, the Kansas City Business Journal presented Western Extralite with an ImpacT Award, a recognition program implemented in 2011 to honor companies that leverage technology to improve operations, performance, and sustainability.
- Share green success stories. Employees at Western Extralite are aware of the company’s green initiatives, not only because they see them on a daily basis, but also because this is the kind of company where people talk. Employees talk amongst themselves, and they talk with top management. Distributors could also share green success stories with customers and others in the industry through social media.