Greener Workplaces and How It's Possible To Achieve Them
Creating a greener workplace could make it easier to leave a lighter ecological footprint, and could make it more possible to create a more productive and healthier work environment for both employers and workers.
Be it you are the boss or the employee or be it your office is already a green workspace or can be made greener, here are some very practical steps that, if used, could help you lay the groundwork needed to create a healthy, low-impact and greener workspace.
From the way you get to work, and we recommend that you consider telecommuting, to helping your business walk the walk by investing in green, to finding a new green job that matches your career ideals, to setting up your very own green business, here is everything you need to know.
More Work, Less Energy
For most people, the computer has become an essential tool and is something that you just cannot miss in any workplace. Adjusting the energy settings for a computer and other gadgets can do more than just serve as a modest energy saving tactic. It is, therefore, advisable to set computers and other devices to energy-saving and to make sure that they are shut down when leaving them for the day (the "standby" setting continues to use power even when the machine is not in use). By plugging your hardware into a power strip that features an on and off strip switch, or on that has a smart power strip, the entire desktop setup can easily be turned off at one go. However, it is important that you power down your inkjet printer(s) before turning the power off so as to allow them to seal their cartridges. Scanners, printers, and other gadgets that are occasionally used should be unplugged until they are needed. And, always turn off the lights in spaces that are not occupied.
The way you heat your office space makes a notable difference to how green it is. Ground source heat pumps can be one great way to achieve better and more efficiently heated offices. If your office is a little older then the addition of a new boiler could be a great addition. These boilers maybe costly but are certainly worth it. If you can't afford to purchase a newer boiler outright, then rental boilers can be a good solution.
It is rather absurd that in this digital age we still consume large amounts of paper (which is just mashed up and bleached tree pulp), and of which most gets used once before being thrown away or recycled. Interestingly, the greenest paper around is not made of paper and is nothing but digital. It is, therefore, advisable that you go digital if you want to dematerialize and use lesser paper. The more you get done online, the less paper you will need. Keep your files on computers in digital form instead of in filing cabinets. This not only eases things, but it also makes it easier to make and keep offsite backup copies or to take them with you wherever you go. On the other hand, consider reviewing your documents on your computer instead of printing them out. Instead of sending paper letters, consider sending emails.
Newer software like Greenprint can help minimize the amount of blank pages on documents before printing them. At the same time, you can use it to convert your documents to PDF for easier paperless document sharing.
Offices require a lot to operate and a greener one can be achieved through careful planning of purchases to ensure they are green.
Offices are filled with electrical equipment and paying close attention to the energy efficiency of these items can do wonders for an electricity bill and its carbon footprint. From air conditioning units to the computers used, energy wastage can be dramatically cut in the office space with a little care and thought. Additionally, making greener solid oak wood furniture choices, encouraging cycling to work and implementing better and more ethical food choices can also make a notable difference to the eco friendliness of an office.
Make Commuting Greener
Workers in America spend about 47 hours every year commuting rush hour traffic. Over time, this adds up to more than 3.7 billion hours and about 23 billion gallons of gas being wasted in traffic annually. The best way to ease some of the strain this poses on the environment is taking up options like carpooling, biking, using public transit, walking, or a combination of the above.
If you just cannot avoid using a car to move about, then consider getting an electric or hybrid vehicle, scooter, motorcycle or consider using a car sharing service like Zipcar or Flexcar. Some companies are pushing purchase of electrical cars as this piece shows here.
Interestingly, some employers are giving bonuses to carpooling and biking workers, and special perks to those driving hybrid cars. For those who feel riding a bike is for tattooed couriers and kids, then an electrically powered or high-tech folding bicycle they should consider trying (for more information on this, see below).
Work from Home
Videoconferencing, instant messaging and other such innovative workflow tools are making effective telecommuting a reality. As such, if you can hold phone conferences, telecommute, take classes online, or work from home, then consider giving it a try. This will not only save you on time that you would have otherwise spent on traveling to and from work but will also spare the air. As an added bonus, you get the opportunity to work in the comfort of your home wearing your favourite pyjamas.
Of today, telecommuting is working for more than 44 million Americans, not including TreeHugger staff. At the same time, this option could allow you to work 4 ten-hour days instead of 5 eight-hour days – that's a consolidated workweek. This not only makes it easier to cut down on time and energy spent on commuting by up to 20% but also allows you to enjoy 3-day weekends.
These are all different ways to go green in the office and cut down on time, carbon output and energy use.