When adopting more eco-friendly lifestyles, it can be easy for men and women to overlook their offices. While drivers can drive in ways that conserve fuel and homeowners can take steps to reduce their energy consumption at home, few people may give as much thought to making their offices more friendly to the environment. But there are many environmentally friendly practices that business owners and their employees can adopt around the office.
Turn computers off at quitting time
Frequently turning computers on and off can produce small surges of energy each time the computer is turned on. But the United States Department of Energy notes that this energy surge pales in comparison to the energy consumed when computers are left on for long periods of time. When going home for the day or leaving your desk for more than 20 minutes, whether it’s during lunch hour or to attend a meeting, turn your monitor off. If you expect to be away from your computer for more than two hours, turn both the computer and the monitor off. Employers who make these suggestions to their employees may reduce their office energy consumption and save money along the way.
Recycle old equipment
Advancements in technology now occur at a breakneck pace, so the equipment businesses use today may very well be obsolete tomorrow. Businesses that want to be more eco-friendly should recycle rather than discard old equipment. Simply throwing equipment away might even be illegal depending on where an office is located. Some electronics contain mercury, lead or arsenic, hazardous materials that can do significant damage to the environment when not properly disposed of. Some retailers, including the office supply chain Staples, accept old equipment for recycling at their stores at no charge to business owners. If equipment is still functional but somewhat outdated, look into donating it to local organizations in need.
Cut back on printing
Printing documents used to be the most effective way to share them with coworkers and clients. But nowadays printing is one of the least efficient and least eco-friendly ways to share documents. Instead of printing documents to show coworkers, create PDFs and email the PDFs instead. And rather than mailing contracts to prospective clients, email contracts that accept e-signatures, ultimately storing the contracts on your file server rather than in a dusty old filing cabinet.
Develop telecommuting policies
In analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2005-2014 American Community Survey, GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com found the population of regular work-at-home non-self-employed persons grew by 103 per cent between 2005 and 2014. Working from home is often seen as employee-friendly, but it also can benefit employers and the environment. When employees work from home, their employers need not purchase or lease as much office space, saving them substantial amounts of money. In addition, working from home cuts down on the number of commuters driving to work, decreasing fuel consumption and vehicle emissions. Employers who cannot allow employees to work from home full-time can still help the environment and their employees by allowing workers to work from home one or two days a week.
Offices are not always eco-friendly, but there are several ways to make office life more efficient and environmentally friendly.