Turn Your Office Green!

Whether you have your own office or are part of a larger office environment, you can make some dramatic changes for your pocket book and the environment quickly and easily. Here are just some ideas to get you started.

Use both sides of writing paper. Copy documents on both sides as well. This reduces paper costs enormously and saves a considerable amount of wasted paper.

Statistics: It is estimated you can save 20% on paper by everyone following these simple rules. This can save $70 per employee, per year or $7000 in just a 100 employee office! An employee in a typical business generates 1.5 pounds of waste paper per day, most of which is NOT recycled.

  • Paperless payroll can create a large savings as well.
  • Asking receivers of your e-mails and documents to only print them out if it is absolutely necessary. Create a common statement that is at the bottom of all your e-mail communications..
  • Buy office supplies that disintegrate in landfills. Avoid aluminum, PVC, and styrofoam.
  • Buy recycled paper that is PCF (processed chlorine free). Use unbleached or uncolored paper. If you need to use colored paper, use pastels. Buy products in bulk to minimize packaging.

Statistics: A ton of 100% recycled paper saves the equivalent of 4,100 kWh of energy, 7,000 gallons of water, 60 pounds of air emissions and three cubic yards of landfill space. In the U.S., 40% of solid waste is paper!

  • Change light fixtures to compact fluorescent lamps..
  • Replace old fluorescent lighting fixtures that are likely using T-12 lamps with T-8 fluorescent lamps. You'll get better color, less flickering and use 20% less energy..
  • Use occupancy sensors in conference, break and bathrooms. They are easy to install and relatively inexpensive..

Statistics: Changing to more efficient lamps can achieve 50-80% savings, and they last 10X longer. Lighting is generally 29% of the energy use in an office.

  • Need new heating and cooling equipment? Opt for the highest energy efficiency equipment possible. Go to the ENERGY STAR Web site for information..
  • Turn your thermostats down by one or two degrees and save about 10% on your electricity bill!.

Statistics: Heating and cooling office space is responsible for 40% of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. and it eats more than 70% of electricity usage.

  • If you are searching for office space, look for green certified buildings. Contact the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and the US Green Building Council to start.

Tax Savings: Building owners and tenants who can reduce energy costs by 50% or more can get a tax deduction. Go to the government's ENERGY STAR Web site for more information. Many local utility companies are now offering energy audits for free. Contact your local utility and get started.

  • Use power strips for all equipment that can be turned off at night in your home, as well as your offices.
  • Statistic: 40 watts of energy can be lost for each piece of equipment remaining plugged in, but not in use.
  • Upgrade older computer equipment by adding memory capability or RAM and make repairs.
  • Always purchase new energy efficient equipment if you must replace it, and make sure it has expandable memory slots. For computers the Green Electronics Council's Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool can help.
  • Place equipment into sleep modes automatically - screensavers do not count - they actually waste more energy.
  • Always recycle older equipment & cartridges with the manufacturer or at recycling drives in your community. Never just throw away cartridges or equipment in the garbage.
  • Recycle cell phones and rechargeable batteries now at www.call2recycle.com

Statistics: Office equipment typically uses about 16% of energy costs. If every US computer and monitor were turned off at night, the nation could shut down eight large power stations and avoid emitting 7 million tons of CO2 every year. And the energy savings in just your own office will add up to real dollars!

  • Have a recycling program for paper, glass, plastic at your office. Many times recycling bins are provided free of charge. Search the Internet or phone book for your city's program and get started. Make sure everyone knows where the recycling bins are and what you expect.
  • Reward employees for good energy conservation and recycling behavior. You can even give incentives for ride sharing, bicycling and walking to work, paper savings, energy savings and more. Communicate what they have saved in money, energy and materials. Create office Green Guidelines.

You will find many ways around the office to eliminate landfill waste and conserve energy if you look. Even smaller items like eliminating styrofoam coffee cups, plastic forks, knives and spoons. The kitchen is a great area to review. And, again, it will save money too!

If you are too busy and have a large office or numerous offices, consider hiring an energy manager/transportation coordinator. This person can pay for himself in a very short time and preserve the environment for future generations.

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