How to Create a Green Office Working Environment
As an employer, you are in a pivotal position to educate your workforce on how to improve their environmental awareness. By introducing a sustainability strategy with a number of environmental policies, you can create a green culture which encourages staff to behave responsibly in their working and social life.
Fortunately sustainability strategies have business benefits too, with efficiency improvements helping to reduce overheads, develop brand reputation and improve profitability.
Ensure that your organisation has a sustainability member or team who can implement environmental policy. Start small and work your way upwards: introduce posters to educate and motivate staff, install recycling bins, “think before you print” reminders and a cycle to work scheme.
You should also aim to measure your carbon footprint at regular intervals; make this part of the yearly reporting process. Once you have evidence of effectively reducing your footprint you can then apply for a Carbon Trust Standard award. This is very good marketing collateral and will allow you to attract new customers and investment.
For firms with a large carbon footprint, carbon offsetting can help to mitigate your footprint by investing in environmental projects in other areas. You can set up weekend tree planting activities for staff or invest in clean air projects; the more you involve your staff the greater the cultural benefits.
You can reduce your environmental impacts by minimising overall spatial requirements. Up to 60 per cent of office desks can be left unmanned on any given day; unnecessary space takes energy to heat and light; encourage staff to work remotely and introduce a shared desk policy.
Installing loft and cavity wall insulation and power saving light bulbs will allow you to save energy and reduce overheads; water conserving taps will significantly reduce water wastage. Choose an office space with large windows and natural light will also reduce lighting requirements and wasted energy.
To give your office a natural feel, use a neutral colour scheme with earthy colours and integrate this into furniture, wall paint, pictures and carpets. This will make staff more in tune with the environment and is likely to foster a green culture.
Take some inspiration from some of the big creative firms: Parliament’s office for example, comes complete with rustic ‘log-cabin’ style chill out zones; Microsoft’s conference rooms are decorated like a hunting lodge.
Source environmental furniture and stationary, including cardboard shelving and desks, energy saving desk lamps, recycled plastic pens and notepads. This can also help to nurture a green culture.
Leverage digital technology
Introduce technology which will reduce your requirement for printing. Use display screens, overhead projectors, smartphones and tablets to view documentation rather than using hand-outs and printed material.
Electronic Document Management (EDM) allows you to store documents electronically on databases, using character recognition to scan documents into editable text. You can then search and sort documents by key words, reducing your paper requirements hugely. It also provides firms with spatial advantages, reducing the requirement for filing cabinets and cupboards, minimising floor space and saving energy.
Greening your printing
A managed print service (MPS) will outsource your printing to an experienced third party. By rationalising all aspects of your print network, you can monitor output more effectively, reducing waste and eradicating poor processes.
Xerox’s recent partnership with British Telecom has helped to reduce the telecoms firm’s carbon footprint by an estimated 50 per cent.
Green printing software can also help to maximise printing efficiency, eliminating unused page space and unnecessary images from print jobs to reduce the amount of paper you use. Analytics software can also perform some of the roles of a managed print service, allowing you to measure print volumes and identify cost savings opportunities over time.
Using Forest FSC Certified Paper (FSC) will also reduce illegal logging and deforestation in areas like South America.
Overall, small changes can really help to reduce your business’ carbon footprint and encourage staff to work towards sustainable goals; this will help reduce work space costs and improve our environment in the long term.
This post was written for Ecopreneurist by David Campbell, Marketing Executive at pallmallestates.co.uk.