Greening the office doesn’t mean spending lots of money or eliminating comforts that are custom for employees. Many green choices can actually save the company money. In general, greening the office requires conscious choices, choosing reusable over disposable, and conservation over immediate convenience. Given how much time people spend at work, greening the office is a great way to improve your natural resource and carbon footprints.
1) Utilize Eco-Friendly Transportation
See if you can make your office bike-friendly by arranging for bicycle storage and an on-site shower. Encourage employees to leave their cars at home by offering public transportation stipends or incentives for carpooling.
2) Switch Your Bulbs
Lighting accounts for roughly 35% of electricity usage in U.S. offices. To help reduce your office’s energy consumption—switch out incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) which use 66 percent less energy and can last up to 13 times longer.
3) Put Computers to Sleep
Set your computers to go into sleep mode if untouched for 10-15 minutes. Power down printers, fax machines, and computers at the end of the day to save electricity and lower the power bill. According to ENERGY STAR, activating sleep settings on just one computer can prevent about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
4) Recycle Your e-waste
According to the EPA, only 18% of e-waste is recycled. Recycle your used electronics responsibly to keep toxic chemicals such as lead, mercury, beryllium, cadmium, and arsenic out of landfills and potentially out of groundwater. Have bins set up to collect computer hardware, ink cartridges, and batteries.
5) Recycle Your Paper
The average American uses 110 lbs. of paper at the office a year. This means roughly 19 people use 1 ton of paper at the office. Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 7,000 gallons of water, 17 mature trees, and 2 barrels of oil. It’s also important to purchase paper products that have Forest Stewardship Council certification or contain 100% post-consumer materials.
6) Use Paper Efficiently
To reduce paper use, print only what is necessary, make double-sided printing the default on all office computers, reduce document margins to fill page space, and reuse scrap paper whenever possible. And whenever possible, distribute company publications electronically.
7) Work From Home
Telecommuting benefits the environment by reducing auto emissions, gas, and energy consumption. Allowing even part-time telecommuting cuts office costs, makes a lighter ecological footprint, and improves employee morale.
8) Green Your Brew
Replace your office coffee with a fair-trade, shade-grown, or organic version. Fair-trade coffees are produced and purchased from farmers with livable wages for both themselves and their employees. Shade-grown coffee was grown under the canopy of trees, which means that rain forests were not cut down to grow the coffee beans. Organic coffees are grown without treatment from toxic pesticides and herbicides, lowering both the consumers’ and the earth’s exposure to toxins.
9) Use Reusable Mugs Instead of Disposables
Replace disposable paper cups with washable, reusable mugs. Have everyone in the office bring their own mug from home instead of using paper cups for water, tea and coffee every day. Employees can also use this as an opportunity to reflect their personality in the type of cup they choose to use. An office of 15 people replacing their three paper cups a day each with a washable, reusable mug would save 11,250 paper cups from being purchased and tossed. This step saves the company money and space in the local landfill.
10) Add Plants to Your Office
Adding plants to your office cleans indoor air by reducing dust, bacteria, and mold! One plant for every three people improves air quality. Plants can also increase your productivity by improving your mood.
Be a leader of change in your organization and implement these steps to improve the eco-efficiency of your office. By taking steps to make your workplace more environmentally friendly, you can save energy, resources, and money.
To learn more about how to promote sustainability within your organization, sign up for an ISSP Sustainability Associate course.