Whether you are the boss or the employee, these simple, practical changes of habit can save energy and resources at work.
1. Be bright about lighting
44% of the electricity used in office buildings is from artificial lighting. Make it a habit to turn off the lights when you’re leaving any room for 15 minutes or more. Try to utilize natural light as much as possible.
Strive to use Energy Star related light bulbs and fixtures and install timers or motion sensors that automatically shut off lights when they are not needed.
2. More work less energy
Optimizing the energy settings for computers and other devices can be more than a modest energy saver. Set computers to energy-saving settings and make sure to shut them down when you leave for the day. During the day, setting you computer to go to sleep automatically during short breaks can cut energy use by 70 percent. Make it a policy to invest in energy-saving computers, monitors and printers and make sure that old equipment is properly recycled.
3. Be smart about printing
Make it a habit to print on both sides or use the back side of old documents for faxes, scrap paper, or drafts. Print in draft mode when possible and avoid color printing. Try to choose printers and photocopiers that do double-sided printing. If your office ships packages, reuse boxes and use shredded waste paper as packing material.
When buying printer paper, look for recycled paper with a high percentage of post-consumer content and the minimum of chlorine bleaching. Even recycled paper gobbles up a great deal of energy, water, and chemical resources in its processing.
4. Go paperless when possible
The more you do online, the less you need paper. Keep files on computers instead of in file cabinets. Review documents onscreen rather than printing them out. Send emails instead of paper letters.
Make it a policy to post employee manuals and similar materials online, rather than distribute printed copies. They are easier to update that way too.
5. Recycle everything
Make it a habit to recycle any kind of paper you encounter in the office, including fax paper, envelopes, catalogues and junk mail. Old cell phones, PDA’s and pagers can also be recycled.
Place recycling bins in accessible, high traffic areas and provide clear information about what can and cannot be recycled.
6. Redesign the workspace
Greening your workspace has limitless possibilities. You should start with the right furniture. Furniture can be manufactured from recycled materials as well as recyclable. New Life Office offers remanufactured cubicles at a fraction of the cost of new. Instead of sending used Steelcase panel systems to the landfill, New Life Office refurbishes panels and storage components to look like new. The end product looks great, saves your company money and is good for the environment.
7. Watch what and how you eat
Bringing lunch to work in reusable containers is the greenest and healthiest way to eat at work. Getting delivery and takeout almost inevitably ends with a miniature mountain of packaging waste. If you do order delivery, join coworkers in placing a large order. This is more efficient than many separate orders. Also, bring in a reusable plate, utensils, and napkins. If you do go out for lunch, try biking or walking instead of driving. Provide filtered drinking water to reduce bottled water waste.
8. Use green materials
Use recycled paper and envelopes that have been processed and colored using eco-friendly methods. Pens and pencils can also be made of recycled materials, and refillable pens and markers are preferable to disposable ones. Use biodegradable soaps and recycled paper or cloth towels in the bathroom and kitchen, and provide biodegradable cleaners for the custodial staff. Buy in bulk so that shipping and packaging waste are reduced, and reuse the shipping boxes. Recycling printer cartridges is often free, and recycled replacements are cheaper than new ones.
9. Rethink your commute
American workers spend an average of 47 hours per year commuting through rush hour traffic. We can ease some of this strain by carpooling, taking public transit, biking, or walking. If there’s no good way to phase out your car, consider getting a hybrid, electric vehicle, motorcycle, scooter, or using a car sharing service like Flexcar or Zipcar.
Make it a habit to take the train, bus, or subway when feasible instead of a rental car when traveling on business. If you have to rent a car, some rental agencies now offer hybrids and other high mileage vehicles.
10. Get others in on the act
Share these tips with your colleagues. Ask your boss to purchase carbon offsets for corporate travel by car and plane. Arrange an office carpool or group bike commute. Trade shifts and job duties so that you can work four long days instead of five short ones. Ask the office manager to get fair trade coffee for the break room and make sure everyone has a small recycling bin so that recycling is just as easy as throwing paper away. Ask everyone to bring in a mug or glass from home and keep some handy for visitors so that you reduce or eliminate use of paper cups.