Green Office Guide I: Reduce your Carbon Footprint in the Office
Dear readers, as an initiative to address sustainable developments in an effort to prolong the Mother Earth’s longevity and to ensure a healthy and resourceful world for our future progeny, we here at Shoplet.com will be making more efforts, both in terms of our parent site, as well as the blog, to provide more guides and tools to greening your environment, especially in regards to your work environment.
Presenting our Green Office Guide. The following guide to green office will be sectioned into 5 continuing parts and be consecutively published in the following weeks. Each part of this guide will provide checklists, tools, references, and other suggestions that can help a small to medium sized commercial business improve its environmental practices and image in a manner appropriate for the nature, size and location of the company. The Guide is arranged so the company can assess its current situation and opportunities, and then select those steps it wants to take to improve its programs. By following this Guide, your company should not only be able to enhance its reputation as a responsible corporate citizen, but better meet the needs of customers, improve efficiency and productivity, and make the organization more attractive to talented new recruits. Ready? Here we go!
Part I- Reduce your Carbon Footprint in the Office
Here are some ideas for Reducing Your Company’s Emissions of Greenhouse Gases and Energy Consumption. Make sure to review your operations against the following checklist of ideas to identify opportunities to reduce your greenhouse gas footprint. Many of these suggestions will also enable you to reduce operating costs.
(1) Building/Process Energy Use
- Energy Star Equipment: Reduce energy use by purchasing personal computers and other electrical devices bearing the Energy Star certification label from the US Department of Energy, which is granted to energy-efficient items.
- Computers on Power Management and/or Power Strips: Activate the power management feature on computers. (If all computers in the US used this feature, this would product a CO2 reduction equivalent to removing 1.5 million cars from the road.) Plug multiple computer devices into a power strip and shut off the strip at the end of the day. Electric adapters for computers, printers and other devices use energy even when the device is off. Switching off a power strip is one way to avoid this overnight drain of electricity.
- Energy-efficient Lighting: Replace low output (60 to 100 watt) incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. (CFLs last 10 times longer and use 50 to 80 percent less energy.) Replace high output (100 to 150 watt) incandescent bulbs with halogen bulbs. Replace incandescent bulbs in exit signs with LED bulbs. Replace T-12 fluorescent lamps and magnetic ballasts with T-8 lamps and electronic ballasts.
- Energy-efficient Systems: Use other energy-efficient lighting and heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems to the extent this can be decided or influenced by the organization.
- Upgrade Equipment: Replace old inefficient boilers, water heaters, heating and air conditioning equipment with new highly efficient models. Install solar systems or other alternative sources of energy where feasible.
- Fix Leaks: Seal air leaks around doors, windows, electrical outlets and other wall openings.
- Insulation: Enhance insulation in ceilings, walls and floors as appropriate. Install windows with better insulating properties.
- Natural Lighting: Use natural lighting in place of electrically powered light. Paint walls in light colors to enhance the effect of natural light.
- Shading: To reduce electrical demands for air conditioning, control the heat from natural lighting by shades, awnings, or glass film. Plant trees or vined trellises to provide natural shading during warm weather.
- Lights-out Policy: Adopt an internal policy that encourages employees to turn off lights, computers, and other equipment at the end of the workday and otherwise when not likely to be in use. Apply “switch-me-off” stickers as reminders. Install timers and motion sensor light switches where practicable. Use task lighting to illuminate only those areas where light is required.
- Thermostat Settings: Alter the settings on the thermostat to reduce the use of heating and air conditioning equipment.
- Loading Areas: Install air infiltration barriers in loading areas.
- Energy Audit: Conduct and implement an energy-saving audit of the office, where cost effective. Some electrical utility companies will do this for free or at a very modest cost for their customers. Do a free self-assessment using the Business Energy Analyzer.
- Other Energy-saving Measures: See the ABA-EPA Law Office Guide to Energy Efficiency for other practical measures that can be taken to cut energy use in an office setting.
(2) Employee Travel
- Energy-efficient Commuting: Subsidize or otherwise encourage employee use of car pooling, energy-efficient vehicles, car-sharing programs (e.g., FlexCar, I-Go, Zipcar), mass transit, or bikes, or take other measures to reduce the energy consumed by employee commuting or other travel.
- Flexible Work Arrangements: Provide flexible work arrangements, such as early or late hours, compressed work week, telecommuting or other practices to eliminate or reduce employee commuting time.
- Teleconferencing: Adopt guidelines on the use of web, telephone and/or video-conferencing and other means to avoid unnecessary travel and associated carbon emissions.
(3) Product Deliveries
- Reduced Deliveries: Arrange with suppliers to reduce the frequency of deliveries to the extent practicable.
- Efficient Delivery Routing: Use special routing software or other tools and load consolidation to improve the energy efficiency of product delivery to customers.
- Reduce, Reuse Packaging: Reduce the amount of packaging used for product deliveries to the minimum needed to protect products from damage. Use durable reusable shipping containers. Shred or form used paper into shipping packing.
(4) Paper Use
- PCW Paper: Increase the recycled post-consumer-waste (PCW) content of your office paper.
- Paper Recycling: Recycle discarded mixed office paper and corrugated materials.
- Double-sided Copying and/or Printer Defaults: Institute double-sided copying at least for internal documents. Use printers with an automatic duplex option, if possible. Narrow the margins on documents to conserve paper.
- Electronic Communications: Route faxes electronically; maximize the use of e-communications in lieu of paper documents to the extent practicable.
- Paper Re-Use: Re-use one-sided non-confidential paper documents for drafts or notepads.
(5) Waste Generation
- Pollution prevention: Reduce or prevent the generation of waste where practicable. Most waste materials generate greenhouse gas emissions in their production, use and disposal.
- Waste Recycling: Recycle paper, corrugated, aluminum cans, plastic, metals and other items that can reasonably be recycled in your community. Local recycling often avoids much the generation of greenhouse gases that would occur if virgin materials were used.
(6) Other Actions
- RECs, VECs, Offsets: Purchase greenhouse gas credits (voluntary emission-reduction credits, renewable energy certificates or greenhouse gas offsets) to make up for some of the greenhouse gases being emitted. See footnote v of Appendix 1 for a listing of reputable offset retailers. Also, some airlines and discount travel services like Expedia allow you to buy an offset for your trip when you purchase your airline ticket. Bear in mind many firms are offering offsets and some are not reputable.
- Employee Ideas: Create an incentive program which encourages employees to suggest ideas.
Try some of these ideas to help reduce your carbon footprint in the office! Remember to be supportive and encourage one another to be proactive as well. For more ways on how to become a little greener, be sure to check out Part II of our Green Office Guide on greening the office product line!