It Pays to Go Green!

There are few organizations that can lay claim to the color green, but in Old Bridge, New Jersey the Order of the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh is one of them.

An Irish/American organization established in 1964, the FSOS in Old Bridge boasts a membership in the hundreds and a club with a calendar burgeoning with activities all year long. Like many organizations the economic climate has forced them to reevaluate their operating expenses…..And the findings were surprising.

They found that with relatively little effort they could realize savings in the thousands of dollars a year range by going just a little greener, and no, they wouldn't be buying paint. So what did they do?

They first looked at their monthly expenses to identify where the money was going. For example, the cost of printing the monthly newsletter, envelopes, labels and postage adds up. Turns out the newsletter was costing almost $10,000 a year. They polled their membership and made some changes. Now instead of sending a newsletter to 600 homes, they make it available online and now mail to 70 homes for those without computers.

Another major drain on any budget is energy. For a facility as big as the FSOS the electric meter never stops. If it were an athlete, it would be an Olympic athlete, lean and wiry from running an endless marathon. It would of course also sport an emerald jersey! Most of us ask questions like, "Why is the TV on when no one is watching?", the FSOS asks, "Why are five TVs on?", "Why are we heating Old Bridge?", "Was this light left on all night, all day, all week?", "Were all the lights left on?" …… And the meter runs its marathon.

It seemed that on weekdays and nights many non-essential electrical devices such as appliances, video games, lights, fans, cable boxes, electric signs, sound systems and outlets were turned on even though nobody was in the club. Each night on leaving the club the last person exiting the facility must turn off all of these devices. With a checklist, map, keys and a flashlight, most of us would be challenged to complete such a daunting task. Not surprisingly, more often than not it doesn't get completed. With switches, outlets and remotes in various locations in the building, something is always going to be missed… always. This means wasted electricity; not only bad for the environment but a constant and pointless drain on the FSOS bank account. It seemed that there was no hope.

Then they discovered the GreenSwitch at, a device that ties a designated set of appliances and outlets to a single switch, a super switch, but a super switch without a cape. The system can be retro-fitted to any room or building by simply replacing light switches, wall outlets and thermostats with a GreenSwitch version of the same product. No hammering, no new holes in the walls, no cables to run. At the end of the installation the club had one new switch, a GreenSwitch... a Master GreenSwitch!

Now when leaving the building the last person out can just flick that switch to accomplish what he used to need a checklist, map, keys and flashlight for. The FSOS expects to see a savings of between 10 - 30% on their electricity bill from the installation and with a return on investment in less than two years; this was a no-brainer.

Today technology has matured enough so that going green is not only beneficial to the environment, it is also financially sound. By simply changing the way they used energy and how they distributed their newsletter, substantial savings were made. In return they do not have to go to their membership for increased contributions to manage finances. In fact the surplus monies realized from their green initiative will be reinvested into the club.

Today we are moving from a world where you had to pay to go green to a world where it pays to go green. Who knows, maybe they'll buy some more green paint after all.

 The Guest Column is our readers' opportunity to write about a given issue or topic in an in-depth and educational manner.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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