Whether it’s the annual celebration of Earth Day—or really any other day throughout the year—finding ways to keep your firm green is good for sustainability and good for your firm’s culture.
What are you doing to keep your firm green? We asked members of the Intuit Trainer/Writer Network, and here’s what they had to say. While many responses talk about working remotely and saving paper, there are many other ways you can go green.
Dawn Brolin, CPA, CFE—Powerful Accounting, Inc.: Since 2011, I have not had a file cabinet in my office. Everything is stored in SmartVault for anytime access by my firm and clients. No need to kill trees over here at Powerful Accounting!
Katherine Bunschoten—Certum Solutions: I consider our stewardship of the Earth tantamount. If we don't have a healthy world, all of us are in trouble, so we take our roles as citizens very seriously.
I have a small hobby farm and feel passionate about the environment. We reuse our boxes from Certum for composting in my home vegetable garden and set our thermostat to eco-friendly ranges. While we have a small office in North Carolina, the vast majority of our team works from home, so they help the environment by not using their cars to drive to an office. We also are almost entirely paper free, and conserve our travel to one to two critical trips a year.
My hobby farm sometimes overflows into my workplace as well. We keep extra eggs and produce in our fridge for clients and employees, which cuts down on freight exhaust and gas from farm to grocery.
Renee Daggett, EA—AdminBooks: AdminBooks is a paperless accounting firm with 12 remote team members. As a virtual team, we no longer accept paper or print documents because we use a secure client portal to share information between our clients and team. In addition to our portal, we use many other programs “in the cloud,” such as Google docs, Asana, Intuit Lacerte Tax on a server, GoToMeeting, and we have niched to working only with clients that use QuickBooks Online. Because we are 100% virtual, our team members help the environment because their commute is typically just a walk down the hall!
Ingrid Edstrom—Priestess of Profits: A year+ ago, some colleagues and I founded the Accounting Alchemy Network, a grassroots movement to turn our profession into a vehicle for positive change in our world. We are hosting regular conversations around how accounting professionals can have a positive impact on social justice and climate through our work—in our firms and with our clients. Last month, we interviewed Nitin Garg, Intuit's Global Customer Sustainability leader. If anyone is interested, you can visit the Accounting Alchemy Network website to sign up for our newsletter; you’ll be prompted to join our groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Gita Faust—Fast Trac Consulting: Ever dream of reaching the moon? Working remotely has its perks and Saves the World! We can all pitch in to control air pollution and the environment with a tiny action at a time. And my action starts with taking care of myself first! I am like an energizer battery, uplifting my mood with the fragrance of the flowers, herbs, and plants that also cleans the air. A peek out the window, I get a breath of freshness, looking at the ever-changing season, the weather minute by minute, and being nosey, just like I am with my client’s financials, advising them of past, present, and future growth. Being adventurous by taking a break at a moment’s notice to join one of my neighbors for a walk … is refreshing! At the same time, saving me and saving the world with one-time action at a time.
Elissa Greeley—ADOS Consulting: I do not have a printer in my office, so, no paper!! We work 100% remote from our home offices, so no gas emissions are tied to the business.
Robin Hall—VARC Solutions: For an accounting form, we are not quite paperless, but we are “less paper.” We know that there are things that need to be printed, but we use the technology and multiple monitors to not have to print as much out, view things on the screen, and then save on the computer for future use.
Pat Hartley, MBA: I am working 90% remote to save fuel and emissions for the environment, and to save my sanity from sitting in SoCal Traffic. I am also doing my best not to print anything to paper to save a few trees, as well as asking my clients to pay via ACH or credit card, saving me trips to the bank.
Jan Haugo—Bookkeeping For Painters: One way we helped encourage keeping the firm green is to set up computers and other equipment to go into sleep mode when not in use. We also try to encourage natural light rather than office light. If you have to have office light, then use LED bulbs.
Al-Nesha Jones, CPA, MBA—ASE Group: We keep our firm green by operating in a paperless environment. Using Intuit ProConnect Tax allows us to have clients e-sign their engagement letter, complete their organizers, and upload their tax documents securely. After discussing the return with the client and finalizing it, we send the tax return for e-signature, and even share the final tax return and e-file confirmation electronically. We only invoice and collect payments via QuickBooks Online, so clients even receive their receipts electronically. So much paper saved! #SaveTheTrees
Carrie Kahn—Complete Business Group: We went paperless. We embrace digital technology and reduce our reliance on paper by using electronic documents, email, and online collaboration tools.
Jody Linick—FitBooks Pro: FitBooks Pro stays green the most by maintaining a paperless office. I almost never print anything, and any paper I receive via physical mail on behalf of my clients is scanned, then shredded. So, no physical file folders, file cabinets, or other paper storage “furniture.” Working remotely helps, too, for all the already-known reasons!
Sherrell T. Martin—Nitram Financial Solutions: We are keeping our firm green by being a virtual firm. A virtual firm means less cars on the road, which contributes to the reduction of CO2 emissions. We are a paperless firm, so we save trees and cut down more emissions that occur in the process of producing paper. We are an Apple firm using MacBooks that use energy efficient hardware, and all of electronics are recycled and not just trashed. This helps reduce the amount of power used to create new products from scratch.
Andrew Newman CPA—Newman Associates, CPA: We have a suite of apps that give our clients easy access to work digitally. Using portals and cloud apps, we provide our clients with the conveniences that make it unnecessary to print to paper. We have reduced the amount of paper we receive and/or print by at least 90%.
Mario Nowogrodzki, CPA/CITP—Mendelson Consulting: One way to keep a company green is to move all operations to cloud computing. That includes moving your desktop software and data to cloud-based servers.
While not all cloud-based technologies are powered using renewable energy, they are a far better alternative to local computer hardware, making it the greenest and cleanest way to operate your server and IT systems. Traditional computer hardware requires significant maintenance and upkeep. Combine this with battery backup power supplies and cooling fans, and this means a lot more electricity being used. Studies show that companies adopting cloud computing reduce their carbon footprint by up to 30% per user for large companies and 90% for small businesses.
Another point is utilization rates. On-premise computer systems inherently have low utilization rates due to equipment being purchased and set up in anticipation of usage spikes. Depending on usage needs, the cloud affords flexibility in allocated hardware. And the cloud consolidates machine use across multiple users, increasing efficiency. When hardware sits idle—the usual case for most people—it means poor efficiency and has negative effects on the environment. That is why public cloud servers tend to be two to four times more efficient than traditional computer systems due to a highly used infrastructure. The move of our infrastructure to a cloud server platform years ago was so successful that we decided to add this as part of our professional services.
Alicia Katz Pollock, MAT, ACN, MOUS—Royalwise Solutions, Inc.: I carry my own coffee cup and silverware everywhere I go. When I eat on the run, I’m not throwing away any single-use plastics. Working remotely has allowed me to only put about 1,000 miles on my car for the last three years!
Megan Genest Tarnow—High Rock Accounting: Our team works remotely, eliminating the time and emissions of a commute. And while we are happy to join a client for coffee, it's been years since we've gone to their offices to do the work.