It is the responsibility of everyone to reduce needless waste in their daily lives. This is particularly relevant to the office, where inefficient use of energy and resources, plus the fuel used by so many to get there, renders it one of the worst environmental offenders. Here are some straightforward tips to help you reduce the carbon footprint of your workplace.
1. Use low-energy lighting
This is within reach of even the most skeptical environmentalist. The use of fluorescent and LED bulbs not only reduce the amount of energy consumed, they also drastically cut down on your company’s electricity bill – quite possibly by as much as 90 per cent. These savings will only increase with the use of sensors to shut off lighting when a room or area isn’t occupied. With LEED certified buildings gaining ground across the globe, you can do your part by ensuring that your office has the latest bulbs optimized for lower power consumption.
2. Switch things off
Perhaps not the most revolutionary suggestion in the world, but it is incredible the amount of energy savings that can be garnered by turning off machines overnight. According to statistics from the US Environmental Protection Agency, 80 per cent of printers, 70 per cent of photocopiers and 30 per cent of computer monitors are left on overnight. If all these machines were turned off when employees leave, not least for the weekend, it can produce electricity savings of up to 50 per cent.
3. Manage your paper
Despite all the talk of paperless offices, the amount of pulp we collectively go through is still staggering – with some estimates claiming each office worker uses a kilogramme of paper every week, or 10,000 sheets a year. To put it another way, a third of all material buried in public landfill sites in the States is paper or paper-based. Recycling bins are an obvious solution, but effective measures such as not printing e-mails, not using coversheets on faxes and taking notes on PDAs or iPads can also contribute.
4. Eliminate unnecessary travel
The maths make this the most compelling item on the list: carbon dioxide is the main contributor to the greenhouse effect, and cars produce about 30 per cent of total carbon dioxide emissions. So, if you can’t convince people to carpool, then cut down on travel by using video conferencing, collect mail or courier dispatches into smaller consignments and walk to the café for lunch. Reducing car use by a fifth will cut over a ton of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
5. Keep your temperature
Whether blowing out heat in the winter or freezing the air in the summer, workplace temperature units are the cause of 40 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions and consume around 70 per cent of total office electricity. But just two degrees in either season can make the world of difference; by not trying to recreate the Arctic in July or the Sahara in December can save 10 per cent on your bill. Other measures such as thermostats can regulate the temperature overnight and on weekends and using blinds to shade windows can also reduce the impact of the weather outside.
6. Appoint an environment officer/supervisor
Without underestimating the collective conscience of your work colleagues, it is always a good idea to appoint someone to own the problem and create policies in the office. That way environmental responsibility won’t simply be a three-week good intention, but culture shift that will manifest itself in a coordinated, measurable manner.
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