A “new” form of accounting can help nonprofits, small businesses, and the environment. No, I’m not talking about cookin’ the books. I’m talking about getting all the breaks you are eligible for when “going green.”
“It’s not all new age theory; there are real, true bottom-line benefits to going green in whatever shape or form you can manage,” says Susan Lanfray, marketing director at ERE Accountants and Advisors.
But it’s a complex task to find those breaks. That’s where “green accounting,” comes in. It’s a new practice area for ERE, one based on months of research into every possible incentive, grant, low- or no-interest loan, tax credit, tax deduction, and abatement available from the federal, state, and city governments as well as from utility companies.
ERE serves small- to medium-sized businesses, many of whom are interested in being socially responsible but are also concerned about the traditional bottom line. So ERE did a little research, which led to a lot of research.
When the numbers are finally crunched, ERE found, it’s possible to end up with a rehab or renovation project that costs less out of pocket than the project would have cost if done the old fashioned way.
That was the case for one ERE client who was faced with the gut rehab of recently acquired property.
Surprised? So was the grateful client.
In a way, though, I’m not surprised. The evidence is growing that being socially responsible is profitable for the bottom line.
Consider Tyga-Box Systems, which exists both to make a profit and eliminate waste. It is a business founded on the concept of reducing pollution. It wouldn’t exist if its founders were not concerned about the environment.
Or companies whose well-treated employees work hard to improve the bottom line. By the way, I’m happy to say that the 2010 finalists for Winning Workplaces awards reported an average revenue increase during the last three years of 151 percent!
ERE’s “green bottom line” is yet another example that what’s good for the planet and good for people is good for business, too.
Both owners and tenants, small businesses and nonprofits, should be aware that many upgrades qualify for incentives:
- interior lighting
- Hot water
- Building envelope: insulation, windows, roof
That new boiler you need because the one you have is old? Sure, you can decrease your energy bills by installing any new one that uses less fuel. That alone will help both your bottom line and your social responsibility index.
But you may find that investing in an approved energy-efficient system – even solar or wind power – will provide you with heat and A/C, still save energy costs, and require a smaller initial outlay due to the tax credits, rebates, low-cost loans. and other incentives out there.
“There are a lot of rules,” Lanfray says, “but the money is definitely there. It’s a window of opportunity that will not last forever.”
So now may be the time to plan your remodel, renovation and upgrade.
“Every entity is looking to increase the bottom line, to reduce costs or increase income,” says Katherine Walsh, ERE director of business development. A greener outlook can help, she says.
By the way, both New York State and New York City have put in place requirements for businesses to reduce their carbon footprints.
You may as well get a head start while the incentives are still on the table.
Have you “gone green” in your business or nonprofits? Did government incentives make a difference? Will you consider greening your business the next time you renovate?