The Green Office

Many of us are highly efficient at cutting energy use and recycling at home but often forget the workplace. Regardless of the size of your business there are many simple steps you can take to reduce its carbon footprint.

Its important to recognise that greening your officer isnt just a cosmetic exercise designed to make the company appear greener. It can provide real cost savings and help the planet, whilst engaging staff and making them feel that they can make a difference.

Set up a green task force

For larger business, a project team of between 3-5 staff members is ideal. Its remit can include setting targets for recycling and cutting energy use, such as switching off lights and monitors. This can be sold into management on the basis of cutting energy use and saving money. Raise awareness by putting up posters and including achievements in staff communications such as meetings, e-mails and newsletters. Be sure to provide inductions for new staff on the companys green policy so that everyone is bought in.

Some suggestions

Try to keep bins away from desks so that rubbish disposal is more inconvenient. Provide staff with easily accessible recycling boxes for paper, plastic and cans. Buy recycled stationery, toilet paper and other materials. Avoid disposable products such as drinking cups, paper plates and plastic cutlery.

Think before you print

Offices can use huge amounts of paper unnecessarily. E-mails should only be printed as a last resort. Use recycled paper and use both sides of the paper. Put signs up near the printer / photocopier questioning whether it really needs to be on paper.

Cut energy use

Ask staff to switch off lights and monitors when they leave rooms and the office. Turn off your monitor when you leave your desk. Switch to a green energy supplier such as Ecotricity. Replace old light bulbs with energy efficient versions and watch your electricity bill fall!

Travel

This is a big area for carbon emissions which is easy to reduce. Encourage staff to use bike to work schemes. Avoid national and European flights that can easily be covered by train. Offer staff the facility to work from home. Explore the use of video conferencing to avoid trips and save money.

Save water

Its easy to forget that our water footprint is as important as our carbon footprint in protecting the environment. An eco-kettle will help to ensure that staff only boil the water needed for tea and coffee. If you have an old building then put hippos into cisterns to reduce the amount of money flushed away. Many water companies provide these free of charge. Consider replacing old taps with low-water spray versions. Try to use fewer chemical and look for natural alternatives that don’t pollute waterways.