Making some small, realistic and achievable changes in the office routine can help to significantly reduce carbon emissions and undoubtedly save money, ultimately improving the office environment and the planet!
Morgan Lovell, who design and build sustainable workplaces, have drawn up ten top tips to help offices adopt a greener approach.
1. When leaving the office for lunch, meetings and home, switch the computer off. Having screens running from 9am until 5pm, with holiday photos flashing up on the screensaver 70 per cent of the time is common office practice, but the amount of energy wasted by using computers inefficiently is enough to laser print 800 sheets of A4 paper.
2. Switch off the lights whenever a room is empty and move to low energy fittings. Leaving the lights on overnight wastes enough energy to heat 1000 cups of tea. Unplug mobile phone chargers, as these are one of the worst culprits for putting a drain on energy.
3. Choose paints with low amounts of toxins, use timber certified by the FSC, build in recycling units and specifiy furniture, fittings and fixtures with a high content of recycled materials, which can be recycled again in the future.
4. Open blinds to admit natural light and use windows to provide natural ventilation. Where possible, placing work stations within a seven metre radius of a window will help to enhance the working environment, while the use of low-level cabinets and shelving within the building itself will allow natural light to filter further into the building, cutting energy bills and making the workplace healthier too.
5. Leave the car at home one day a week and opt for public transport, car pooling, walking or cycling. This would cut rush hour traffic by 20 per cent each day.
6. Print on both sides of paper and print conservatively. Source paper carefully, from sustainable sources. Over-indulgent printing wastes two-and-a-half trees per person each year, on average.
7. Move bins from peoples’ desks and create central recycling areas, it not only cuts the amount of waste going to landfill, it also helps get people walking about in the office.
8. Turn the heat down by 1ºC and an office can cut heating bills by approximately 10 per cent.
9. Club together each week and allocate someone in the office to manage office sustainability; essentially ensuring that lights are switched off and that all the equipment is properly shut down at the end of each working day. This will develop a sense of responsibility within the office and make energy conservation part of an everyday routine.
10. Outline a plan to help cut office CO2 emissions. Once a target is achieved, continue to monitor CO2 levels so that sustainability can be successfully maintained.
For more details on going ‘green’, Morgan Lovell has a step-by-step checklist to help make offices more sustainable, available as a free download here.