Wanting to make your business greener is a great idea. Taking actual and measurable steps to reduce your company’s carbon footprint is even better. At the same time, increasing your professional “greenitude” can be a perilous journey. Many CEOs and business owners make mistakes as they work to be more environmentally friendly. Even IHS Chairman Daniel Yergin, the man currently considered by Fortune magazine and many others to be the country’s most innovative and prominent expert on energy related matters, had a learning curve to overcome. Here are some of the biggest mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.

Going Too Fast

When your goal is to outdo Daniel Yergin, it’s tempting to go whole hog on the “going green” thing. You might want to rip out the water heaters, replace the roof with solar panels, install rain barrels, get rid of all of the copiers, etc all right now.


No, really. Don’t.

Take it one step at a time. Doing everything all at once opens you up to all sorts of havoc. Construction during the work day (which will have to happen if you implement all of your plans all at once) will reduce your employees’ productivity. It will make clients and customers uncomfortable. It could even result in lost and damaged inventory and company property. You might have to move offices to an off-site location while the construction is taking place. All of these things are bad things.

Instead, go slowly. Start with one thing and then, when it is finished, move on to the next. This is easier for your employees and clients and you to deal with. It’s usually even cheaper to roll out. It gives you time to adjust.

Working from the Top Down

You want to make the biggest impact possible. Still, starting with the huge projects might not be the best way to go. You risk sinking a lot of money into something that may or may not actually be feasible. Instead, start small. Start with little things like issuing solar chargers and switching out your current light bulbs for LED bulbs. Move on to switching traditional water heaters out for tankless heaters. Over a weekend have low flow toilets and sink faucets put in. Try going paperless.

Working your way up allows you to see the savings in real time. It helps your employees adjust to a greener style of working, which is less of a distraction and hindrance to their productivity and efficacy.

Failing to Communicate with Customers

So many businesses take steps to be greener but forget to tell their customers. This leaves the customers feeling confused when they get a product that is slightly different than it used to be (because you’re using greener materials to make it) or when you suddenly stop sending coupons through the mail because you’re sending them digitally now.

Make sure your customers know what your plans are before you actually start rolling them out. Keep them informed of every step you are making and what those changes mean for them.

Don’t forget to ask your customers for their ideas. It helps them feel a part of the process and they might be able to help you in ways that you hadn’t thought of.

Going green is something that every business needs to think about doing. There are lots of things that you can do to “green up.” Use the hints in this article to keep you from making the same mistakes that have tripped up so many others.