Environmental impact, paperless environments and green technology continue to be a focus across businesses in all industries and tax firms are no exception. Remote technology is more important than ever but that does not mean a practice is paperless.
Firms committed to reducing waste and improving their environmental impact may be interested in being certified as a “green” business. Not only does this demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, but it also can attract clients who share those values. Here are some steps you can take to certify your tax firm as a green business.
1. Conduct an environmental audit
The first step in certifying your tax firm as a green business is to conduct an environmental audit. This will help you assess your current environmental impact and identify areas where improvements can be made. Some areas to consider include energy usage, paper consumption, and waste management.
You can either conduct the audit yourself or hire a consultant to do it for you. With either option, ensure the results of your audit include action steps for areas that may need improvement.
2. Develop a sustainability plan
Once you have identified areas where your tax firm can improve its environmental impact, it is time to develop a sustainability plan. This should include specific goals for reducing energy usage, paper consumption and waste, as well as strategies for achieving those goals.
For example, you might implement a paperless policy, switch to energy-efficient lighting, and encourage employees to carpool or use public transportation. Addressing some of these items may provide areas that can enhance a disaster recovery plan as well, such as energy reduction and sustainable power back up sources.
3. Implement your sustainability plan
With your sustainability plan in place, it is time to start implementing it. This may involve investing in new technology or equipment, such as energy-efficient light bulbs or software that allows for paperless tax preparation. You may also need to provide training to employees to ensure they understand your sustainability goals and how they can contribute to them.
Technology now offers paperless fax and scan options as well to help completely eliminate the need for using paper, in addition to electronic signature capabilities. Some firms have encouraged clients to participate in the paperless environment by charging scanning fees for paper documents or requests for documents to be printed.
4. Measure your progress
As you begin implementing your sustainability plan, it is important to track your progress. This will help you identify areas where you are succeeding and areas where you need to make further improvements. You may want to establish a tracking system that allows you to monitor your energy usage, paper consumption, and waste on a regular basis.
5. Obtain green business certification
Finally, once you have implemented your sustainability plan and achieved your goals, it’s time to obtain green business certification. There are several organizations that offer certification for green businesses, including the Green Business Bureau and the US Green Building Council. These organizations will evaluate your tax firm based on a set of environmental criteria, and if you meet their standards, you will be certified as a green business.
Certifying your tax firm as a green business is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to sustainability, increase firm efficiencies through technology and attract clients through your reputation for being environmentally friendly.
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