The Environmentally Friendly Office
An environmentally friendly office is good for the environment and good for your bottom line. Reducing energy consumption saves dollars and emissions. With prices continually rising due to various environmental and carbon taxes, now is a good as time as any to go green and eco-friendly. Here are five simple ways to get started:
Talk is cheap – so do more of it! You should ask staff in the office what changes can be made to become more energy efficient and environmentally sound. Even if you aren’t a manager you can still make a difference, starting at your own desk, and share ideas around. The chances are your workmates have done some things at previous jobs, or at home, or at their kid’s school, to help the environment. What cheap and simple ideas can you bring in to this office to help get you started?
The great thing about this is activity is infectious. A change you make in your office might be replicated at home, or other organisations, and the pattern continues. Even if your small office cannot make a big impact, the attitude will propogate through your community and together a difference will be made.
This is an easy one: replace incandescents with flourescents. In some places around the world you can no longer purchase incandescent lights, thanks to governmental policy to reduce energy consumption.
You might even consider replacing arrays of screw-in down lights with banks of flourescent tubes. They are no longer the buzzing annoyance they once were. Quiet, cheap, long lasting, and great reflector systems can spray a lot of light over the room with little energy consumption.
Check the air conditioning
Air conditioners can consume a lot of electricity, which means carbon emissions at the power plant, and an electricity bill to match.
Sometimes in office environments we get so used to turning on the air con and leaving it on all day. Is that necessary? Is there any natural ventilation, such as opening a few windows and/or using just a fan, that could help move air through the office?
If you must have the air conditioning running, check the temperature. Just a degree or two warmer and you can save 10% on the power bills for cooling each year!
If you have an old split system air conditioner, check it’s energy efficiency. Perhaps it is time
to replace with a more efficient inverter model. Inverter air conditioners run at different speeds, rather than a stop-start motion. They are quieter, more efficient, and less prone to breakdowns. The cost of replacing an air conditioner unit might be cheaper than keeping your older, louder unit running year in year out.
Use recycled paper
We now know that the paperless office is a work of science fiction. More than ever we are printing stuff out and working with paper copies. So why not make the switch to a better paper for your printers?
Next time you are ordering in paper, or down at the office supplies store, have a peek to see what else is available. It might cost a bit more, but the cost-per-sheet difference is probably in fractions of a cent. It’s a small change but an easy one to make.
If nothing else do a little investigation to see where the paper is sourced from. Managed plantations are good. Brazilian or Indonesian rainforests are not so good.
Also try re-using scrap paper. Most of us do this already but in case you don’t, you can save a few sheets of paper and use it instead of purchasing notebooks. Cutting the page in half gives a nice ‘notebook’ size that is great for writing down notes at the desk, doodling, sketching ideas, etc.
Finally, don’t forget to recycle your recyclables. Make a habit of having two bins available everywhere: one for paper recyclables, and one for garbage.
Check for rebates, incentives, and more ideas
Your local energy company and local government probably has a web site full of green ideas and options. Check for governmental rebates and incentives: you might be able to get a discount on installing solar panels, or rainwater tanks, or switching light globes, or any number of other purchases that you might consider making.
Going green and staying true to your word is easy, and you don’t need to go overboard with policy changes or major investment. You just need to get started with a few small changes and work upwards from there. Whether you are making changes to save the environment, save on expenditure, or both, you can make a big difference to your office whether that be large, small, or a home office.
Looking to go green on a different level? Check out our guide to office plants and greenlife. It’s a great way to pretty up the office, plus if you pick the right plant, it will clense the air for you as well!