How to Create a Truly Green Office

January 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Eco-Friendly, Front Page, Green Living, Slideshow, Tips

Whether you work in a high rise, in a strip mall, or on your front porch, you can make it a "green" office by following a few simple guidelines, like adding plants and taking advantage of renewable energy. Photo: Julia Wasson

Whether you work in a high rise, in a mall, or on a porch, you can make your office “green” by following a few simple guidelines, like adding plants, taking advantage of renewable energy, and letting in some fresh air. Photo: Julia Wasson

As humans, it’s our nature to overuse and abuse our resources. But this doesn’t have to be the case. It takes a conscious decision to change our wasteful ways and implement sustainable practices. Making your office more energy efficient, eco-friendly, and pleasant for you and your employees will increase productivity and enjoyment in the office while lessening your company’s carbon footprint.

Being energy and resource efficient and conscious of the health and well-being of those in the office will reduce the costs of running your business. Some simple changes of habit will save you a great deal of energy, resources, and most importantly, money. These tips will help you get your office on the right track toward becoming green.

Energy Options

The best way to transform your office into a green machine is to consider switching the type of energy your office receives. While it can be slightly more expensive, transitioning to wind or solar power is by far the best way to begin your green transformation. Numerous utility providers offer wind power as an energy option. Solar power will require a higher initial investment than switching to wind power. However, the tax rebates you will receive for switching to solar will help you recoup your investment, as most are able to make up the difference through the tax rebates and energy cost savings within five years.

Light Efficiently

With artificial lighting accounting for over 40 percent of energy use in the office, it’s important to limit use as much as possible. When you’re leaving a room, and are the last to leave, turn the lights off behind you. Even if you’re only stepping out for five minutes, there’s no need for you to illuminate an unoccupied room. Purchasing Energy Star-rated light bulbs and fixtures will also save you in the long-run. These bulbs use 20 percent less energy than regular lighting, and when coupled with timers or motion sensors that automatically shut off lights when they aren’t needed, you will significantly reduce your office’s carbon footprint.

Switching Coffee

Choose to replace the office coffee with a fair-trade, shade-grown, or organic coffee. Fair-trade coffees are produced and purchased from farmers who earn livable wages for themselves and their employers. Shade-grown coffee is that which was grown under the canopy of trees. This means the rain forests were not cut down in order to grow this coffee. Organic coffees are grown without harmful pesticides, lowering your co-workers’ and the Earth’s exposure to toxins.

Power Off at Day’s End

One of the biggest wastes of energy in the office comes from computers and other electronics being left on overnight. Make a habit to turn off your computer, along with the power strip it is plugged into, when you leave for the day. Even if you’re not using your computer, you’re still burning energy (and money) while your computer is plugged in.

During the day, you can conserve energy by setting your computer to go to sleep automatically during short breaks. This habit can cut your individual energy use by up to 70 percent. Printers, scanners, and other office electronics that are only used occasionally can be unplugged until needed, saving you even more energy and further reducing your carbon footprint. Get the whole office on board, and start saving money today.

Go Digital

The greenest way to print is, well, to not print at all. Many offices have transitioned to use recycled paper, but even that leaves a carbon footprint. The more you do online, the less paper you need, and thus, the smaller your office’s carbon footprint. Do you really need to print out every email, handout and document you receive? Keep files on your computer instead of in file cabinets, review documents on your screen rather than print them out, and send emails instead of paper letters. Lastly, use a PDF converter to allow your office to share documents without printing. Anything you can do to eliminate paper waste will make your office significantly greener.

Healthy Air Flow

Air pollution is a big priority when you work indoors. While you can make adjustments to reduce your energy use, there are other ways to maintain a healthy air flow in your office. Start by switching to non-toxic cleaning products. For the most part, a cloth dampened with water is sufficient to clean most dusty workspaces, and won’t put off harmful fumes for you and your co-workers to inhale. Continue your green transition by opening the windows to increase air flow. If your windows cannot be opened, make sure to take breaks outside throughout the day. Lastly, create a ban on all aerosol products in your office.

“Green” Your Office

If you bring plants into your office and gift them to your employees or co-workers, not only will they see it as a kind gesture, but they will have cleaner air to breathe, all thanks to you. Plants absorb indoor air pollution and increase the oxygen flow of your office. Get a green accessory to complement your desk, and those around you. You’ll be glad to see the color in your office, and everyone will be better off with cleaner indoor air.

Recycle

This may seem a bit basic, but you would be surprised how many offices I’ve visited do not recycle. This is the 21st Century, right? You would be shocked at the number of products your office uses on a daily basis that can be recycled. If you don’t already have one, create a recycling station at work, making it easy for you and your co-workers to recycle with ease. All you need are a few bins and to post recycling guidelines above each to help your co-workers make a mindful decision while making your office greener. Here are some labels to consider:

  • Plastic bags
  • Cans and Bottles
  • Paper products
  • Cardboard
  • Ink cartridges

Spread the Word

Ultimately, creating a green office will be a team effort. The best way to stay involved in green practices at work is to get everyone involved. Share your practices with your co-workers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests creating a team that includes everyone from the CEO down to the newly hired intern. This team will have goals and benchmarks to make your office and building one of the most energy efficient in the country. It may seem like a lofty goal, but when you’re saving money and minimizing your carbon footprint, it will be well worth it.

Other ideas include:

  • Setting up an office carpool calendar
  • Purchasing company carbon credits.
  • Encouraging your co-workers to take part in your new recycling program.
  • Buying eco-friendly office supplies and products.
  • Getfing everyone in the office to pack their lunch and eat together. This will allow you to not only share food with one another, but it’s a great opportunity for you to get to know your co-workers outside of the work space.

Lance Trebesch

Guest Writer

Blue Planet Green Living

About the Writer

Lance Trebesch is the CEO of TicketPrinting.com & Ticket River, which offers a variety of event products and ticketing services. After nineteen years of Silicon Valley experience, Lance found the key to happiness is helping customers worldwide beautify and monetize their events with brilliant print products and event services. Listening to his customers and learning about how they plan their events – ranging from concerts to fundraisers has helped him gain insight and expertise on how to host a successful event that he is always eager to share.

 

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