Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Shining the Limelight on a Local Green Business

Intern Taylor Daugherty interviewed a local business about their efforts to go green.

Riley’s Tax Service is a local small business in Detroit located at 17700 Fenkell Avenue. The business offers a full range of affordable services including tax return preparation, tax planning, workshops, problems resolution assistance and business services to individuals, businesses and tax-exempt organizations. Two years ago, president and CEO of Riley’s Tax Service, T.J Riley –Humphrey , decided to make the company “green.”

The first step was becoming a paperless office – which would be appear to be quite a difficult task for a tax service business, but Humphries said all most clients needed was a nudge in the right direction.

“We started encouraging our clients to save their tax folders to disks or flash drives. If people wanted to use paper folders they still could, but for an extra fee,” Humphrey said.

The next step was waste management. Humphrey contacted Margaret Weber with Rosedale Recycles about how to properly manage the business’ waste. They set up different bins for different types of recycling: a shredding bin, ink cartridge bin, plastic bin, etc.

The business also switched to a “day lighting” method. The direction the building faces brings in enough sunlight to light the entire front part of the building. So until dusk, all the lights in front of the building stay off.

Riley’s was in a bit of a pickle when it came to heating costs. They had an outward facing, un-insulated wall, which obviously made things colder. BUT with the assistance of Green Garage Detroit and a local builder who specializes in energy-efficient building, they conducted an experiment with an insulated paint called “Insuladd” (click here to see how the experiment was conducted!) To lower heating usage however, Humphrey decided to keep the thermostat at a constant temperature of 67 degrees. Humphrey and her employees wore long johns and made last tax-season’s uniform a Riley’s Tax Service sweatshirt in order to stay warm and comfortable.

The outcome of Humphrey’s efforts? A mere 2 bags of trash for the entire tax season (January to April), a $1oo light bill for the 1500 sq ft. space and lower energy costs.

But Riley’s Tax Service isn’t planning on stopping there. Humphrey is now looking at ways of reducing electrical usage without interrupting the computers, and turning the green spot outside of the building, into a vegetable garden. She is working with gardening projects such as Green Garage Detroit, D- Town Gardener (Rouge Park area) and the Palmer Park restoration group.

Greening your business, regardless of how small or large, is not a difficult task! As T.J. Riley discovered, a lot of small steps can generate a great deal of change.

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