There are many ways an office can improve its sustainability – from adjusting the lighting system to only using power from renewable energy companies. There are hundreds of tweaks that can be made. With a well thought out sustainability policy, companies can make simple, inexpensive changes to support the fight against climate change.
Here are some top green tips to help turn an office space into a green space to help promote focus, success, and a sustainable place of work.
General Green Tips for an Office Space
- Put a recycling centre in a prominent location in your office and make sure it is easily accessible. If there is no space for a complete set of recycling containers, put paper recycling boxes by the printers and a general recycling box in the staff room. Make sure the recycling boxes are emptied regularly and sorted correctly.
- Encourage employees to use mugs, glasses, dishes, and cutlery rather than disposable plastic options. It does not take too long to wash up a plate, and it will save more waste going to landfill.
- Provide coffee making facilities that do not require paper filters. If one is required, make sure the coffee filters are made of recycled paper. To go one step further, try to arrange for the coffee grounds to be composted.
- Live plants and nature can do wonders for making an office space more cheerful, and they are great for the environment – make sure to have at least one large plant or an indoor water feature for the office.
- Although it is important to have a clean space to work, make sure it is being cleaned using green products that will not cause damage to the environment.
- The office should go paperless if possible or only print documents if necessary. There is no reason why internal office communications can not be done electronically.
- Rather than automatically printing the receipt, get in the habit of asking customers if they want one. This will save on paper and ink waste.
- During meetings, use mobile devices or projectors to display agendas and supporting materials –this is a much greener alternative to printing and distributing them.
- Find a reliable place to recycle used recyclable batteries and portable electronics.
- Practice green procurement whenever possible – this involves sourcing and purchasing the least environmentally damaging goods.
Green Tips for Office Supplies
- When selecting office supplies, seek out and purchase green products that can be repeatedly refilled rather than dumped in landfills – for example, pens and staple-less staplers.
- Cut down or reduce the need for products that have no green alternatives, such as rubber bands.
- Purchase supplies from companies that share similar green values. This will increase the trust that the office supplies being sold are eco-friendly.
- Recycle used office supplies whenever possible.
Green Tips for Workplace Printers
- Some offices are unable to become completely paperless as there is a need for printing documents for legal or accessibility reasons. If this is the case, only buy and use recycled paper.
- There are now multifunctional printers available, which reduce the need for separate machines that function for different needs – printers can now print, copy, scan, and fax.
- Ensure the office printer has the ability to print on both sides of a piece of paper (duplexing) and has energy-saving features.
- Put a sign up in the office to remind users to only print when necessary – the paper should be saved as much as possible.
- If the printer has an eco-mode, use it. It is fine to use ink or toner-saving modes when printing drafts and other printed materials that do not require a high-quality print finish.
- Instead of throwing out ink and toner cartridges, have them refilled or recycled.
Green Tips for Office Computers
- In case the computer is not in use, it should be switched off to save power.
- Computers should have their standby mode switched on so that it goes into a more energy-efficient state when left unused for periods of time. The standby mode status can be checked and modified in computer settings.
- Modern computers and monitors are more energy-efficient than the IT equipment available in the past. If viable, keep office computer equipment updated.
- When replacing or upgrading computer equipment, try to donate the old equipment to a charity or non-profit organisation. If this is not possible for security reasons, take it to an electronics recycling facility for responsible disposal.
Green Office Tips for Lighting
- Remember to turn lights off in rooms when they are not being used – there is no need to have the lights on in a staff room or toilets all day.
- Switch over from standard incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or LED bulbs. The new light sources use around 75% less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs while producing the same light output.
- Do not leave the office lights on overnight or during non-working days such as weekends.
- Make the most of natural light by having light coloured walls. They will reflect natural light in and reduce the need for as much overhead electrical lighting. To really get daylight reflecting in, use a high gloss.
Green Tips for Heating and Cooling an Office
- If employees have access to the office thermostat, try to keep the heat at 68 degrees Fahrenheit and cool to 78 Fahrenheit when occupied. When the office is unoccupied, the temperature can then be adjusted up or down by between 7 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively, to maximise energy savings.
- Make sure any heating system, heat pumps, or air conditioning systems are serviced regularly and working efficiently.
- Consider weather stripping and caulking to reduce heat loss from windows and doors during the winter months.
Green Tips for Toilet Facilities
- Instead of using standard paper towels, introduce hand dryers or cloth towels.
- Ensure all products stocked in the toilet facilities are eco-friendly. There are many on the market and come in various price brackets, so there is something to fit any company budget.
- If the office has old-style toilets in the building, they can be using up to 7 gallons of water per flush. Ideally, they should be replaced with new ultra-low-flush models but if the budget is not available, put a sand-filled plastic bottle in the tank to displace an equivalent amount of water – it uses less water when the tank fills.
- Toilets that continually run need to be fixed as they are huge water wasters.
- Taps should always be turned off completely to make sure they are not dripping. A leaky faucet at a rate of one drop per second can waste more than 5.5 gallons of water in a day. If left to drip away, it can add up to 2,082 gallons of water wasted over a year.
- To reduce the flow of water from the taps, install a low-flow faucet aerator. Better yet, put in motion sensor faucets.
Creating an environmentally friendly office space is a great way to entrench the discipline of practising sustainability throughout a business. There may be a few individuals that have the opinion that sustainability does not come down to personal or company responsibility –
However, regular training and regular conversations around the topic of sustainability can help increase the awareness of being socially responsible. While it may be up to management to initiate the eco-friendly company movement – it is an individual responsibility to practice sustainability.