Thursday, July 14, 2016

Optimizing the Office to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Working in your office or cubicle each day, there’s a lot that you can do to reduce your company’s carbon footprint. Don’t worry - these steps don’t require drafting a long memo to headquarters laying out the case for making purchases of costly new energy-efficient equipment. Instead, these are simple, everyday steps that you can take to reduce the carbon footprint of your office.

 Make your office more energy-efficient
 This one’s a no-brainer: run the air conditioner less in the summer months and the heating system less in the winter months. How many times have you walked into an absolutely freezing office in the summer months, when employees are actually wearing sweaters to meetings?
 There are plenty of other ways to make your office more energy-efficient. Seal up all the leaks around doors, windows or electrical outlets – if there’s less hot air invading from outside there will be less need to run the air conditioner inside. Or consider taking steps to increase the shade around your office’s windows. This may be hard to do if you work in an urban skyscraper, but if you work in a suburban office, think about planting trees, bushes and other forms of shade outside the windows.
 Finally, it goes without saying that your office should adopt a “lights-out policy.” If there’s nobody in an office or a room, the lights should be off. When everybody goes home at night, the last person out of the office should make sure all the lights are turned off. And, for the lights that are in the office, you should think about energy-efficient lighting that reduces power demand over the long-term.

 Change your office routines
 In the office, it’s easy to fall into daily routines, many of which are not optimal for reducing your company’s carbon footprint. For example, take the use of paper – it’s so easy to print out every memo, document and report that you receive (especially if it’s from a VIP). But all of that paper use takes its toll on the environment. Save the printouts and save the trees. Only print out emails if absolutely necessary. And always recycle any paper that you do use!
 Another big way to reduce your office’s carbon footprint involves travel. Think about how much energy you waste commuting to work each day (and then returning home each night). There are plenty of options for reducing your carbon footprint when it comes to commuting – there’s car sharing, car-pooling and ride sharing. And, if you’re willing to forego your car entirely, there’s mass transportation and, yes, bicycles! A bike-friendly office is an environmentally friendly office.

Embrace technology
Finally, think about ways to use technology to reduce the carbon footprint of your office. Teleconferencing via Skype is much better for the environment than jumping in a car for a face-to-face meeting. Sending emails or texts is much better than sending paper correspondence. And collaborating on documents via the cloud is better for the environment than printing out copies of the same document and asking your co-workers for comments.

Those are just some of the little ways that you can optimize your office to reduce its carbon footprint. Given a big enough budget and a true vision from senior management, it’s possible to take even bigger steps – using solar energy to power the office, exchanging old heating and air conditioning equipment for new energy-efficient equipment, and reimbursing employees who take mass transit instead of cars to work. It’s the combination of all these little steps, taken by hundreds of thousands of office workers all over the country, that can lead to the greening of the office.

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