December is my favorite month of the year. In addition to the enjoyment of sharing the holidays with friends and family, I usually find time to think about the coming year and how I can make my business better. And better in many different ways — more profitable for my investors, more satisfying for my employees, and more relevant in my community. If you have a little extra time this month, I hope you’ll use it to examine how you can build a more sustainable business.

To help you get started toward more sustainable 2018, I’d like to offer the following suggestions:

Focus on one or two sustainable roofing strategies that offer real value for your customers. As an example, if you reroof a lot of warehouses, consider integrating daylighting (skylights) into your roofing proposals. There are many excellent design tools available to help you get started, and the payback is fast, especially if you can integrate the skylights into the lighting controls. For businesses with high hot water needs, such as laundries, car washes, etc., rooftop solar thermal can also be a profitable add-on to your next roofing project.

Get your employees involved. Do you keep track of waste and scrap returned from job sites, and do you have a plan to recycle or reuse them? Do you know how this year’s “carbon footprint” from your trucks and equipment compares to previous years, and do you have an incentive program to reduce fuel (carbon) usage? Finally, do you emphasize that worker safety is just as green as any other green practice. After all, being green is fundamentally about people.

Reach out to your community. Combine the one or two green sales strategies and green employee policies together and start to reach out to the community in a sustainable way. Instead of buying uniforms for a local ball team, consider what you could do to help your community save energy and reduce waste. When you do this, not only will it help reinforce your in-house green programs, but it also will increase your company’s reputation as a sustainably-minded business.

From my discussions with roofing contractors across the country, I’m convinced that these three strategies will make your company a more profitable, more enthusiastic, and more respected business in your community. And best wishes for a prosperous and more sustainable 2018.