No matter if you are moving to a new office, or you just want to renovate your old one there is a plenty of options that will eco-upgrade the place.
The first few things that pop-up into our mind when it comes to green office renovation are recycling, proper isolation, buying class A air conditioners and turning off the devices when you don’t need them.
I want to turn your attention to few changes that will positively reflect not only on the environment but on the health and productivity of you and your employees.
What Materials Prevail at Your Workplace?
Do you often get headaches when staying at your office? Most people reply positive to this question and put the blame on their monitors, take a pill and go back to work. Have you ever thought the reason might be different?
Take a glance at materials that surround you. What is your flooring? Do you know what paint have been used to cover the walls? The key to your office nausea may be hidden in the answer of these questions.
Reduce VOCs Exposure to Minimal Level
Volatile Organic Compounds, known simply as VOCs are air polluters found in almost every building material, wall paints, composite woods, standard carpets and upholsteries. Exposure to some of the most common VOCs – formaldehyde, benzene and toluene – leads to headache, nausea, throat and eyes irritation. These materials are proven to cause kidney, liver and nervous system damage and also to be carcinogenic at higher levels of exposure.
If you want to minimize the levels of VOCs in your office, better choose natural paints for your office walls. Common interior paints consist lead, formaldehyde and other dangerous ingredients.
Another source of VOCs in your office is your flooring. In most cases, standard carpets are produced using benzene, toluene, formaldehyde and other toxic substances. The safest option is to install hardwood flooring when renovating your old office or choosing a new one. Bamboo is the perfect choice, due to its beauty, durability and the fact that it is highly renewable material.
Pay Attention to Your Office’s Cleanliness
Another thing that will make a significant improvement to your work environment is changing the way your office is being cleaned. Replace ordinary cleaning products with green ones. Nowadays, people suffer from different types of skin irritations and allergies. Asthma is also a common issue that can be worsened by irritants in cleaning products. Natural cleaning products will reduce the health risks at your workplace.
Another thing that you should take in mind if you want to go green on office maintenance is your cleaning company. No matter if your business is a small startup or big company, you most certainly use professional help every now and then. Make sure to select a local service that use eco-friendly detergents and methods. It is very important to check what your cleaning company does with waste water from truck-mount units, used for deep cleaning of floorings and upholstered furniture in your office. Always choose certified cleaners.
You must know though that there are some types of stains that cannot be removed without chemical cleaners. The less carpeting in your office, the better – hardwood flooring doesn’t require as much strong detergents to be kept clean.
Ventilation and Air Filtering
A good ventilation system is crucial to proper air circulation in your office. This will control humidity levels and prevent mold growth. There are types of mold, such as Stachybotrys chartarum, are proven to cause respiratory problems. Some studies even suggest mold can lead to cancer. Though this is quite controversial thesis, the scientific community agrees on the fact that mold, mildew and other fungi in damp buildings are increasing health risks.
Believe it or not, some houseplants are known to be great air filters. If you want to improve the air quality in you working environment the greenest possible option is getting a real greenery.
NASA scientist Dr. B.C. Wolverton made a study (50 years ago!) on air filtering abilities of plants and proved that Chrysanthemum, Peace Lily, Red-edged dracaena and some other plants significantly reduce the amounts of some of the most dangerous VOCs – benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.
Food and Beverages
Even if your office is small and you don’t have your own cafeteria, you certainly buy some food and beverages like snacks, biscuits, tea, coffee and milk. Replacing them with their organic versions is more expensive, but if you can afford it this is the healthiest and greenest food for your employees.
Organic foods and beverages are also proven to be more dietary than common foods and fight with one of the most spread health issue nowadays – obesity. You cannot force your co-workers to become vegetarians, but you can still replace crackers in your office menu with fresh fruits.
As you can see, healthy office environment requires more than recycling your old computers and batteries. Even if you cannot afford buying organic fruits every day, you can at least invest in non-toxic coating for your walls – even the smallest things matter to make your workplace greener.