A Step by Step Guide To A Green Office

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Green Office

There’s no excuse these days for being oblivious to your carbon footprint, whether you count yourself as eco-friendly or not, everyone need to be trying to limit their carbon footprint and this is especially true for businesses.

There are lots of advantages to making your business as green as possible:

  • Being eco-friendly is good PR and good PR is always good for business;
  • Being eco-friendly can also makes you look good to potential employees and any business is only as good as its staff;
  • It’s cheaper to be environmentally friendly – so many businesses think going green is going to cost them money but when done properly it actually saves them money;
  • And of course you’re helping the planet!

There are lots of ways to make simple changes throughout your office that can have a significant reduction on your carbon foot print.

First you need to take an energy and expenditure inventory. Go round your office and make a note of every that uses energy and/or gets thrown away on a regular basis. For most offices, this list is going to comprise of lighting, computers, printers, photocopiers etc. Once you’ve got your energy inventory you just need to tackle each item one at a time:

 

Lights

Obviously you need lights, a poorly lit office is hazardous to the health of your staff and it looks bad when you have customers in. Look at your lighting and ask yourself a few questions:

  • Does every light need to be on all the time?
  • Can you use more energy efficient lighting anywhere like LED lighting?
  • How many lights are on one breaker? Do you need every light on all over the office at the same time?

Once you know the answers to these questions it starts to get easy. Break your office down, make sure the lights in the corridor and the toilets are on sensors. This way they only come on when they’re needed and you don’t need to worry about staff forgetting to turn them off. It’s bad for your eye sight to have a direct glare on computer monitors but if you have staff working by the windows you might be able to turn at least one row of lights off, especially in the summer.

 

Computers & Electrical Items

As with the lights, the computers are an essential part of most offices but they use a lot of energy, generate a lot of heat and cost a lot of money.

Stand by – a computer on standby uses almost as much power as a computer left on so make sure all your staff power down their machines before they leave at night.

Data centres – keeping your servers cool requires a lot of power and if something goes wrong with them your business can be in trouble. If you run a larger data warehouse consider moving over to virtualised servers running as much of your business as possible on the cloud. Cloud computing works out cheaper for most businesses, your data is often safer in the cloud and it massively reduces your carbon foot print.

Chargers – whether your staff are charging their own phones or MP3 players or it’s for business use make sure they’re unplug their electrical items once they’re charged otherwise they’re just drawing unnecessary energy.

Maintenance – when you’re buying any new electrical item it’s important you consider the energy rating before you buy and it’s essential you keep it well maintained. Cheap and old equipment isn’t energy efficient and it’s not good for productivity either. Just because your computer is still just about doing its job it doesn’t mean it should be. If the internal cooling fan is on more than it’s off it might be time to replace that computer. Energy efficient equipment will also run more efficiently too, increasing productivity.

 

Paper

We’ve come on leaps and bounds in the past twenty years when it comes to unnecessary paper use in the office but we’ve still got a long way to go. Try a simple experiment.

For one week (or one day if you run a larger office), ask you staff to put all their waste paper in one bin/bag/room and ask them to write their name on it.

This isn’t to shame the people who produce the most paper but it tells you which departments throw the most paper away and what it’s for. Now you can ask a few simple questions:

  • Did it really need to be printed in the first place?
  • Did it need to be printed on regular paper or would recycled/scrap paper have been fine?
  • What would need to happen for it not to have been printed?

If you’ve got staff from different departments having a meeting does everyone need a copy of the same meeting agenda/report/email? Could the same information have been accesses via a networked computer and projector?

Have at least one printer in the office filled with recycled paper and make that is the  default printer for most the office, it can be old print outs turned upside down or simply cheaper recycled printing paper.

Educate your staff – does everyone know how to print double sided? Do they know how to work the projectors in the meeting rooms? Make sure everyone knows that they only print when they really need to.

You might even want to make a game out of it. The department that shows the biggest improvement in paper waste (from the original experiment) wins the cash you would have spent on paper or a long lunch or just the accolade of knowing they won. So long as it’s not done to shame any one person this can easily be a bit of fun.

 

The Biggest Challenge

When it comes to making your office as eco-friendly as possible the biggest challenge you’re going to face is getting user buy in. As with anything new, like new software, new staff, new procedures etc it’s going to take time for everyone to adapt and the easiest way to make the whole procedure as seamless as possible is by educating everyone.

Have a clear goal (reduce the energy bill by X% or cut the amount of paper being thrown away by half etc) and make sure everyone knows what that goal is. Prove to your staff this isn’t going to be a passing fad and that these are permanent changes.

Before you know it your office will be eco-friendly.