The Complete Guide to Greening Your Office
Making your workplace eco-friendly can result in huge energy savings and a healthier, happier work environment. An eco-friendly workplace is also good for the planet. Today a lot of people expect businesses to be green, so here are some ways to make your workplace eco-friendly:
Paper and printing products
- Buy eco-friendly paper and printing products – Use 100% recycled, chlorine-free or organic paper, refillable ink cartridges, and non-toxic highlighters. Ask your printing company to use FSC-certified paper for your promo materials.
- Use the printer wisely – Don’t print in colour if it’s not required, and print in draft mode. Use a printer/scanner/copier with an Energy Star rating, and recycle your ink/toner cartridges.
- Use paper wisely – Throw old papers into the bin, but re-use those with a blank side. Also, consider printing documents double-sided and at least two screen pages per page. You can shred old paper to be used as packing material, and also use old paper sheets as scrap paper or for taking notes. Old paper with blank spaces can be used to print smaller documents.
- Create a paperless office – Go paperless by keeping copies of emails and files on the computer. Have cheques deposited directly into accounts, and send any company updates via email. Read documents on-screen, and only print them out if necessary. Also, get rid of disposable paper cups at the water cooler, and tell workers to bring their own cups.
Equipment and other products
- Use green machines – When buying new machines, look at the manufacturers’ ethical and environmental records. Buy hardware that will use less toxic chemicals during the manufacturing process, and ensure that your data centre uses energy-efficient hardware or an eco-cooling system.
- Buy green office products – Buy recycled or eco-friendly products such as laptop/tote bags, wrist rests, chairs, and electrical cords.
- Install eco-friendly mats – There are eco-friendly mats now available that are made from recycled products, including rubber tyres and plastic bottles. These mats are designed to work just as effectively as regular mats, and can even be more durable due to their reinforced nature.
- Use green cleaning supplies – If your cleaning supplier doesn’t or won’t use green cleaning products, encourage them to or switch to another company that will. Use green cleaning products in the kitchens, toilets and bathrooms, and on desks, computers and floors.
- Recycle office products – Introduce a recycling station in the workplace so that employees can recycle paper, boxes, cans, foil, plastic bottles and bags, ink cartridges, and food containers.
Computers and electricity
- Save your computer’s energy – Buy an energy-saving computer and related equipment. Set up your computer to shut off after 15 minutes of no use, or send it to sleep mode if you won’t be using it for a while. Don’t have a screensaver, and you should use a laptop or thin client instead of a desktop, as they use less energy.
- Turn off peripheral devices that aren’t being used – These include printers, scanners, video cards, and speakers. Also, remove power adapter plugs and battery charges when they’re finished and no longer needed.
- Use energy wisely – Use compact fluorescent light bulbs, and turn off all lights in a room that’s not in use. Use a power strip as the central turn-off point, so that you don’t have to turn off switches one by one. Or switch to green electricity, like wind or solar power. A green energy supplier can even make your computers run on renewable energy.
- Reduce energy consumption – If it’s cold or dark in the office, open the blinds to let light and warm air in, and in summer close the blinds to prevent heat from entering. Use programmable thermostats with an Energy Star rating for adjusting heating and cooling systems, as well as an Energy Star-rated water cooler. You can also reduce cooling costs by establishing a casual dress code and having your employees not required to wear suits during summer.
- Consider green travel – Encourage your employees to drive a hybrid car, carpool, take buses, trains or subways, cycle, walk, or telecommute to work.
- Use eco-friendly transportation for deliveries – If you’re delivering many large items, consider using a freight train because it produces 5-10 fewer emissions and prevents you from having to send out around 50 heavy goods vehicles on the road. But if you’re delivering smaller or fewer items, hire an electric van as they produce no emissions.
Other green tips
- Grow a green roof – Growing a garden on the roof of your office will help insulate the building from heat loss during winter and heat gain during summer. It can also be helpful in absorbing pollution from urban areas and reducing rainwater runoff by 50%.
- Green your office – Put plants on tables or around the office. Not only will you be able to breathe cleaner air, but plants also absorb air pollution indoors and increase oxygen flow.
- Ensure healthy and free airflow – Do this by using non-toxic cleaning products like water-dampened cloths, opening windows, not smoking or bringing in aerosol cans, and using air purifiers to remove contaminants. Also, clear window vents of paper and other obstructions to allow air to flow freely.
- Green your eating habits – Do this by packing your lunch in a reusable lunch bag/box or plastic bag, using reusable containers, mugs and silverware, drinking from the fountain or bringing your own reusable water bottle, and using washable napkins. If your employees want to buy their own drinks outside, tell them to bring their own mugs. This way, you don’t have to throw away a lot of paper or Styrofoam cups from the office, thus reducing waste.
- Encourage others to go green – Deliver your green message to others by participating in an eco-promotion, which should help them be green at work. Or create a Green Team, which includes everyone in the workplace, with the aim of making your building the most energy-efficient in your city or country. You can also host green events, purchase company carbon credits and carpool with others.
Turning your workplace green can make a world of difference. An eco-friendly workplace not only improves the health and wellbeing of your employees but also that of the workplace, as it helps your business to become more energy and resource-efficient.