HUMAN RESOURCES

Cost Reduction Through Conservation

Controlling costs through environmental conservation.
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As did many other companies in 1990, scared-by-recession Global Turnkey Systems (GTS), a $10-million automation customizer, looked for ways to trim expenses. The Waldwick, N.J., enterprise, however, didn't nip at the salaries of its 90 employees. Rather, it embraced an A-to-Z recycling and energy-use program, attacking costs item by item. The outcome has proved so rewarding to GTS's bottom line that the company now stages well-attended seminars that teach local operations how to save money while saving the environment.

The program is still in a state of flux. But so far it's whittled a hefty 5% from GTS's roughly $250,000 overall monthly operating expenses, claims Michael Winer, who, as chief financial officer, heads the company's volunteer 10-person cost-paring committee. The most productive step to date has been an analysis of heating and air-conditioning usage, he says. Among its revelations was that in the summer, chilly workers were turning on individual electric heaters to neutralize cold spots caused by air-conditioning. Energy use in winter was equally counterproductive: blasts from office space heaters tended to drive corridor thermostats higher, cutting off heat flow to other offices, whose denizens would then add space heaters to their spaces. "Electricity and heating charges had seemed OK," Winer admits. "Of course, we didn't know how high they were at the time." Vents have since been reengineered to produce uniform temperatures throughout, and now there's nary a space heater to be found. Result: at least $2,000 a month shaved off the utility bill.

A conservation campaign virtually pays for itself, Winer points out. Earnest GTS employees collect and sell 18 tons of used paper per year, realizing revenues of up to $150 a month. In turn, throwing away less trash has led to additional savings of $442 a month in disposal services. The cash that comes back is parlayed into still more devices such as sun film over windows and energy-efficient lighting. The recent installation of low-flow faucets and low-water-level toilets trimmed 30% from water bills.

Some Winer-endorsed tips:

* Distribute ceramic mugs instead of Styrofoam cups. Not only does this explicitly shrink cash outlay, but mugs have incalculable promotional value as corporate mementos.

* Devise a universal memo board. This can save thousands of dollars in annual paper costs otherwise committed to memo distribution.

* Don't locate wastebaskets near copy machines. Put recycling receptacles there instead.

* Centralize collection of aluminum cans. A business can either recover cash deposits on them or sell them to scrap dealers for around 2¢ each.

* Feed free bagels and doughnuts to employees. Make it known that such largess -- not to mention the continuance of pay rates -- can be credited to their efforts.

-- Robert A. Mamis

GTS also offers two free newsletters, based on its own experience, on how to start an office recycling program. Write to Laura Madaras, Global Turnkey Systems, 4 North St., Waldwick, NJ 07463.

Last updated: Mar 1, 1992




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