Sustainable Business Practices

This page offers sustainable business practices for 6 different themes: Energy, Water, Waste Management and Reduction, Procurement, Transportation, and Employee and Community Engagement. For additional information on these actions or for more ideas, please contact

Energy Actions How do I do that?
Set an energy reduction goal and track progress by:
-Completing an energy audit or assessment to prioritize energy conservation measures and estimate costs for implementation, or

-Enroll and enter at least a year of data in the EnergyStar Portfolio Manager or other energy tracking software, or

- Monitor energy bill and track your monthly energy use to identify unexplained high use and/or demonstrate progress towards energy reduction goal

Resources for small businesses, including tips on contacting a qualified energy auditor, can be found here:  
For guidance on how to improve energy performance in existing office buildings, retail buildings, healthcare facilities and more, please visit:, or use this template as a guide for the information needed for an energy audit,

Make exit signs and lighting LED

Find resources to upgrade to LEDs in your building or facility:


Perform regular maintenance as recommended on heating, cooling, and ventilation equipment, computer equipment, and appliances  Properly maintain commercial HVAC systems by consulting these tools from the U.S. Department of Energy: 
Achieve an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or more

Learn more about ENERGY STAR certification for buildings and how to apply for certification:

Purchase or install renewable energy from energy provider Find resources and answers to your renewable energy questions here:
Install ENERGY STAR products when replacing or purchasing new equipment Find ENERGY STAR products:
Use power saving technology for all office equipment so it is turned off or in low power mode when not in use and keep rarely used appliances unplugged Follow this checklist to reduce plug loads from office equipment:

Water Actions How do I do that?
Set a water reduction goal by:
- Tracking and monitoring water consumption using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager or other water tracking software, or

-Collect one year's worth of water bills to establish a baseline and track annual progress toward reduction goal

Find tools to understand facility water use; track leaks and other issues; and identify best management practices in commercial buildings:

For additional resources, and to connect with partners, consider:

Regularly check bill, water meter, plumbing, and irrigation to identify leaks and fix

Take a look at the estimated cost of water loss from typical leaks and find tips on how to address them here:

Install WaterSense labeled toilets or urinals Find WaterSense products, including commercial toilets and urinals:
For any landscaping, install electronic weather-based controller and ensure proper coverage to avoid runoff and limit hours of irrigation Find best management practices for outdoor water use and landscaping here:


Install low-flow, aerators (do not exceed 1.5 gpm), or no-touch sensor water faucets Find WaterSense labeled faucets and aerators (as well as more information on cost savings and performance) here:

Waste Management and Reduction Actions How do I do that?
Identify your waste streams and identify areas and a plan for reduction

Learn how to track waste in the workplace, set goals, assess results and improve upon your waste prevention and recycling programs:


Minimize water bottle use with a water cooler, filtered water pitcher, or by providing reusable water bottles  When applicable, consider ENERGY STAR products, like ENERGY STAR-certified water coolers:
Properly recycle or reuse cardboard, mixed paper, aluminum, plastic with local recycling provider Please check with your recycling provider on which items it accepts. Fairfax County provides general resources and guidance on recycling at office and retail locations:
Post signage and labels on waste receptacles (e.g. garbage, recycling, and compost bins) showing what's accepted in each Examples of Fairfax County's "Recycling Right" posters, showing what can and cannot be recycled locally, can be found here:
Work with your waste hauler or building manager to perform a waste audit to maximize recycling and composting (if applicable) Learn more about conducting a waste audit at your facility and find worksheets to record findings here:
Obtain True Zero Waste Certification Learn about the county's own Zero Waste initiative and ways it is taking action across its operations. Many of these strategies could be adapted to meet the needs of other sectors and organizations:

Procurement Actions How do I do that?
Review one year's worth of purchasing records to inform future purchasing strategies to reduce the environmental impact on your supply chain

Learn more about the environmental impact of products and services and the importance of green purchasing here:

There is a procurement policy to purchase products with at least 30% recycled content when feasible  The EPA's Comprehensive Procurement Guideline (CPG) program promotes the use of materials recovered from the municipal solid waste stream. Find information on office and other products as well as a product supplier directory here:
Select vendors based on criteria regarding product sustainability and/or sustainable business practices  Fairfax County uses Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) supplier assessments to address the environmental and social impacts of its spend. Learn about this initiative and see if a similar approach may benefit your organization:
Have a written environmentally preferable purchasing plan that guides purchasing decisions  A clearinghouse on guidance and resources to establish a sustainable purchasing program at your organization may be found here:
Minimize packaging  


Transportation Actions How do I do that?
Establish a organizational fuel reduction goal of at least 10% for the upcoming year

Find resources on setting organizational greenhouse gas reduction targets:

Incentivize employees/members to walk, bike, or use public transportation to, from, and during work hours Fairfax County Commuter Services provides technical assistance to employers looking to implement and gain recognition for green commuter programs. See:
Make bicycle racks visible at customer and employee entrances to your building  Find tools to promote biking and other forms of physical activity in the workplace here:

Institute a telework schedule policy and flexible schedules to reduce commutes Learn about the technical assistance and financial incentives available to employers that establish telework programs in Northern Virginia:
Provide priority parking for electric vehicles (EVs)

The Federal Highway Administration defines the minimum standards for signage, including EV charging and parking facilities. Please consult:

Apply for the Best Workplace for Commuters Award Program  Please see the Best Workplaces for Commuters for more information:

Employee and Community Engagement Actions How do I do that?
Incorporate sustainability best practices into employee on-boarding processes, documents, training and development


Educate staff on benefits of energy and water conservation ENERGY STAR provides employee/building occupant engagement resources, including an employee education kit:

Inform employees of Green Business Partnership and what it means for business practices For more information on Green Business Partners, please consult:
Establish a "Green Team" that meets regularly to co-create and integrate sustainability practices across the organization Find some tips on how to start a green team from Fairfax County:
Create a staff environmental recognition award As an example, Fairfax County sponsors the Environmental Excellence Awards:
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