Having a greener, more sustainable workplace doesn't have to be complicated and expensive. Small, simple changes can have a big impact on the resources you consume.
Going green benefits your business, too. You'll save money by using less power and fewer resources. You'll inspire your employees to be more environmentally conscious in their own lives.
Customers and potential hires who care about sustainability may choose your business over a competitor.
Getting started is easy. Choose one thing from the list below, and then look for ways to expand your efforts.
1. Invest in Energy-Efficient Lighting
LED and CFL bulbs use dramatically less electricity than standard bulbs, and the initial investment is a lot less than it used to be. Save additional energy by replacing desktop lamps with newer, more energy-efficient models. Install motion sensors in bathrooms, hallways, and other areas where you don't need the lights on all the time.
Make it easy for employees to recycle by placing recycling containers in locations where they're easy to see and use. Prime spots are alongside individual desks, around printers, and in break rooms. Be sure to recycle or sell old electronics instead of tossing them in the trash.
3. Promote Reusable Drink Containers
Get rid of Styrofoam cups in the kitchen and lay in a supply of ceramic coffee mugs. Discourage disposable plastic water bottles by buying your employees reusable ones and installing a water cooler. While you're at it, supply your kitchen with large containers of creamer and sugar instead of individual packets.
4. Go Paperless
Reducing the amount of paper you use, process, and store can free up space and save money on office supplies, in addition to reducing your ecological footprint. If you're still keeping everything in filing cabinets, invest in a scanner and file management software. Other ways to save on paper include emailing receipts, invoices, and promotional materials.
5. Switch to Greener Printing
Print documents only if absolutely necessary, and set your printers to default to double-sided printing. Use paper made with a high content of post-consumer waste. Buy remanufactured toner cartridges and recycle your used ones. You'll save money on printing supplies and help tame the amount of plastic waste that goes into landfills.
6. Reduce Commuting Energy
If your employees drive to work in individual cars every day, they're adding a lot to your business's carbon footprint. There are several ways to reduce the impact. You can let your employees telecommute or switch to a four-day workweek. Or you can give your staff incentives to carpool or take public transportation. Encourage biking to work by providing a safe place for employees to store their wheels.
7. Use Greener Electricity
Many electric companies offer a choice to buy your electricity from renewable energy sources. If you own your building or have a long-term lease, solar panels may save energy and save you money. You may also be eligible for solar energy tax breaks.
8. Stop the Vampires
Many appliances, power strips, and electronics are energy vampires that use electricity whenever they're plugged in. After all, something is powering all those little red and green lights. Make it a practice to turn off power strips or unplug everything at the end of the day.
9. Make Your Building More Energy-Efficient
A low-cost energy audit will show how your building leaks energy and what you can do to fix it. Other ways to be more energy-efficient include buying energy-efficient electronics and equipment, adjusting the temperature in the building (should you really need to wear a sweater indoors in July?), and installing a smart thermostat. Major energy improvements may be eligible for grants or tax breaks.
10. Get Some Plants
Plants help improve air quality by supplying additional oxygen and absorbing pollutants. Encourage employees to have their own plants at their workstations, or hire a plant service to bring in some greenery and take care of it.
Once you get started, you'll find that greening your office takes on its own momentum, and there are many more things you can do to reduce your resource consumption while also helping your bottom line.