Help Your Department Go Green

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

In today’s world of environmental concerns, the concept of “going green” has become a part of everyday vernacular. This new “green” way of thinking is being cultivated all across the country, especially at the state and local level.

The fire service can benefit from “going green.” With Earth Day around the corner, here are a few Earth-friendly changes Fire Corps teams can help implement in their department:

  • Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs. This simple change significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions while also slashing energy costs. Fluorescent bulbs use up to 75 percent less energy than incandescent light bulbs and last up to ten times longer. According to Energy Star, an Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy program, if every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with its fluorescent counterpart it would save enough energy to light more than three million homes and save greenhouse emissions equal to 800,000 cars. Fluorescent bulbs are inexpensive and provide a quick return on investment. Additionally, simply turning off lights when a room isn’t being used can make an impact. If your department has the funds, installing light sensors will automatically regulate energy consumption.

  • Recycle. By now everyone has heard the mantra of “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.” Recycling materials and waste is one of the easiest ways to reduce your environmental impact. It is estimated that on average, each one of us produces 4.4 pounds of solid waste everyday, which adds up to almost a ton of trash per person each year. A simple change in disposal habits can significantly reduce this impact. Aluminum, paper, glass, and plastic are materials that are readily recycled in most municipalities. Check with your local government to determine what materials are collected for recycling and to receive the proper disposal bins.

  • Go paperless. Most offices have an abundance of paper waste, but thanks to improvements in technology paper is becoming less necessary for conducting business. Convert as many of your records as possible into electronic format and cut down on waste by using email rather than the fax machine or standard mail. Also be sure to recycle any paper you are ready to discard.

  • Insulate drafty windows or doors. Cracks and poor insulation can dramatically impact heating and cooling costs. Insulating plastic sheets can be secured over the interior side of windows and weather-stripping can be placed around doors. Additionally, installing a programmable energy efficient thermostat can help regulate the interior temperature and cut down on energy costs. If your department has the financial means to do so, installing energy efficient windows and doors will also make a big difference in both the winter and summer months.

Going green not only benefits the environment, it also benefits the pocketbook. Fire Corps teams can take an active role in protecting the planet while improving the economic stability and efficiency of their department.

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