Eco-Friendly Office
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Eco-Friendly Office

To 'green' your office is to make it environmentally friendly. Your company should hire or appoint a Certified Sustainability Officer who will have experience in writing and implementing a sustainability plan within a workplace. Some companies may choose to appoint an entire committee whose aim would be to increase the company's overall sustainability mainly through resource management.

Ways to Make an Office Environmentally Friendly

1. Lighting: it accounts for about 30 percent of the energy use in a typical office.

  • Change the lights in Exit signs to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) or LEDs.
  • Replace old fluorescent lighting fixtures using T-12 lamps to T-8 lamps for:
    • Better color
    • Less flickering
    • 20 percent less energy use
  • Install “occupancy sensors” for areas of an office that are not used much, such as a conference room. There is no need to light an unoccupied space.
  • Replacing incandescent tungsten bulbs with CFLs yields a cost savings of between 50 and 80 percent. CFLs last 10 times longer.

2. Heating and cooling: it accounts for about 40 percent of the energy use in a typical office.

  • Install programmable thermostats to adjust the temperature for evenings and weekends.
  • Adjust the heat down a degree or tow, and adjust the cooing up a degree or two. You can save up to 3 percent on utility bills.
  • Consider blowing outside air into the office to cool down the office.
  • Install solar shades on windows to reduce the amount of heat from the sun.
  • Keep blinds closed to conserve heat in the winter.

3. Office equipment: it accounts for 16 percent of the energy use in a typical office.

  • Turn all machines OFF when leaving the office for the day.
  • Activate sleep modes for printers, copiers and fax machines.
  • Consider purchasing an all in one machine that does all of the above.
  • Look for Energy Star products, when purchasing new equipment.
  • If every U.S. computer and monitor were turned off when not in use, the United States could shut down 8 power stations.

4. Paper Use: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, each employee generates 1.5 pound of waste paper/day in a typical business office.

  • View messages and documents on your computer screen.
  • Make paper copies of documents only when necessary.
  • Do not use a coversheet for a fax.
  • Reuse paper that has print on only one side.
  • Set the default on printers and copiers to make double-sided copies.
  • Buy paper made from a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content.
  • Look for paper that is processed chlorine free.
  • Use unbleached and uncolored paper. If necessary use pastels.
  • Give employees recycle bins for paper at their desk.
  • In the United States, over 40 percent of municipal solid waste is paper. It adds up to about 72 million tons each year.

5. Eliminate vending machine waste: a typical refrigerated vending machine consumes 400 watts or an annual operating cost of a minimum $225.00.

  • Leave recycling bins near vending machines for paper, aluminum, glass and plastic.
  • Consider installing coffee makers instead of a vending machine.
  • Use of ceramic mugs cuts down on paper waste, or worse Styrofoam waste.
  • Use organic coffee beans or fair-trade beans.
  • Consider a refrigerator for beverages to eliminate vending machines altogether.
  • Have recycling bins in employee staff rooms.
  • Appoint or elect someone to actually recycle the products at municipal sites.

6. Transportation: cars produce about 30 percent of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions.

  • Offer a carpool-matching service.
  • Encourage biking by providing bike racks at the office.
  • Provide parking incentives for carpoolers. Let them have the shaded spots.
  • Switch to telecommuting that allows employees to work from home at least one to three times a week. This is the biggest savings in transportation energy use.
  • Carpool yourself.


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