Going green at work can be a great way to save costs, motivate staff and demonstrate your environmental credentials to your clients and prospective clients.
In this article I discuss the top 10 going green tips for the workplace.
For a more detailed list have a look at our 25 go green ideas for the office.
No 1. Write an environmental policy
An environmental policy is a statement of intent that sets out your organisations commitment to best practice environmental performance. It also sets the tone for your company’s approach to environmental management. Good environmental policies have been thought out correctly, are relevant to your organisation, demonstrate senior management commitment and have a positive tone of voice.
If you are just getting started on your organisations environmental journey I suggest writing an environmental policy to help you formulate your approach. This guide provides detailed guidance on how to write an environmental policy.
Note: this is the only paid resource on the Sustainable Business Toolkit. The guide provides internationally compliant environmental policy templates that can quickly be adapted to suit your needs. We guarantee that a policy created using our guide will impress and assure your customers and prospects.
No 2. Calculate your business carbon footprint
Calculating your company’s carbon footprint is a great way to be able to assess your impact, identify areas for improvement, prioritise actions and monitor performance over time. The environmental impact of an organisation can be very abstract. A carbon footprint helps in defining your impact and contextualising it against benchmarks. The process of calculating a carbon footprint can be a little complex. In this article we have set out the 5 key steps you must do if you want to calculate your carbon footprint.
No 3. Start a green team
A green team is a group of keen individuals in an organisation that come together monthly, quarterly or annually to work on initiatives to improve their company’s environmental performance. Typically these individuals are passionate about environmental issues and become ambassadors for their company’s approach to environmental management. Starting a green team is a great way to identify key people to help with the going green effort as well as delegate responsibility to ensure things get done.
If you would like detailed advice on how to set-up a green team then this article is for you.
No 4. Implement a comprehensive recycling scheme
A comprehensive recycling scheme means reducing waste wherever possible and recycling instead. Most businesses can recycle up to 90% of their waste by implementing a comprehensive recycling system. The trick is starting with the ‘low hanging fruit’ such as paper waste and card, and then incrementally move on to recycle other wastes such as glass, plastic, CDs, toners, IT equipment, old furniture etc.
Here are our top 7 office recycling tips – which includes implementing a zero-to-landfill policy.
No 5. Print double-sided
It is amazing how much paper is wasted by companies that continue to print single-sided. Some companies could literally halve their paper use, and hence paper stationery cost, if they implement double-sided printing as a default setting on their printers / computers.
To get more great green printing ideas review this article.
No 6. Buy green cleaning and office products
A quick way to reduce your environmental impact is to review your purchasing practices and substitute traditional cleaning and office products for more sustainable options. For example, you could choose to buy recycled paper instead of non-recycled paper. You could also use respected eco labels like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Energy Saving star and the Fair Trade symbol to distinguish sustainable products. Nowadays many of these products can be purchased at the same or better price than their traditional competitors. The trick is to do a little research on the credentials of the products before making a purchasing decision. Perhaps even phone the manufacturer to see whether they can provide more information on the green attributes of the product.
No 7. Invest in energy efficient lighting
Lighting usually accounts for approx. 20%-30% of an average companies carbon footprint. With such a significant impact on a company’s environmental performance it should be prioritised as an area for improvement. The best way to reduce your lighting energy use and therefore electricity costs is by investing in energy efficient lighting such as LEDs or compact fluorescent lights.
This article talks about how to choose energy efficient lighting. Note: before investing in lighting technologies, you should explore the cheaper option of getting employees to turn off lights when rooms are not in use and delamp lights in areas which are over lit.
No 8. Make sure equipment powers down during out of office hours
Many organisations waste loads of electricity on equipment that is left on over evenings, weekends and holidays. We wouldn’t do this in our own homes so why do we do it in the workplace?
There are two main ways to ensure equipment is turned over – the first is manual and the second is automatic. A manual approach means encouraging users to power off after work or instructing cleaners / security to turn off any computers left on over night. This usually helps in the short-term but things quickly return to how they were before the campaign if people are not continually reminded. The second approach involves using technology to ensure that equipment automatically powers off during long periods of non-use. Typically this technology is installed at a server level enabling an organisation to control the power of the entire IT infrastructure; however, there are solutions which use localised plug points to shutdown specific equipment. Here are some example automatic shutdown solutions.
No 9. Make sure heating and cooling controls are set correctly
Heating and cooling controls are often a contentious point in an organisation. Some people are always too cold whilst other are always too hot. The approach when trying to optimise heating and cooling is to:
1. show people the actual temperature on a real time basis by having visible thermometers. Most people are over sensitive to temperature when they don’t actually know what the temperature is.
2. set the temperature of your heating and co0ling system between 20-22 degree Centigrade (68-71.5 Fahrenheit) and protect it like gold.
The issue with heating controls is that dramatic changes make the system work harder and makes reaching a stabilised set temperature in the work environment difficult to achieve.
No 10. Raise awareness by having a green company away day
If you ever run away days in your business then a great way to get staff motivated and inspired to take action is to make the next theme of the away day have a green element. For example, you could organise an away day that involves volunteering at an environmental charity – great for team work building but also great for raising awareness. Think creatively and don’t be preachy about the topic. Try make the green theme subtle but have high impact.
I hope that these 10 going green tips at work have inspired you to take action and green your business. Remember a journey of going green at work is a marathon and not a sprint. You need a plan and environmental policy to set the direction and intent of your organisation and then you need to take small, but incremental steps to make change happen.
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