In this day and age, the conversation surrounding environmental sustainability is at an all-time high thanks to the hard work of social activists like Greta Thunberg and social movements such as the Extinction Rebellion.
As it turns out, our workspace has a huge influence on the planet. A staggering 411 million metric tons of paper was produced in 2016 (that’s a lot of trees being cut down!), and according to a study by the World Resources Institute from the early 2000s, offices accounted for almost 20% of all commercial energy consumption.
But while major strides have been taken to bring environmental issues to the forefront of the global agenda, there’s plenty more that could be done on an individual or local level to help combat the impending impact of climate change, one of which includes making eco-friendly changes to your office!
Contrary to popular belief, creating a green office doesn’t require a big budget or an extensive system overhaul (although you can do so if you’d like to go the extra mile). There are tons of simple steps you can take that could help to reduce your office’s impact on this planet, and after a certain amount of time, it starts adding up. After all, when it comes to sustainability, every little bit counts. Read on to get started!
First things first, let’s talk about the office space itself. Now, as nice as it is to have a big expansive room to work in, you probably don’t need all of that space, especially now that more people are working from home than ever. If you have empty desks, meeting rooms that only get used every blue moon or unused lobby and outdoor areas that don’t serve much purpose, you probably want to consider on of the following:
If your office already has large windows letting in lots of natural light, lucky you! Numerous studies have shown the benefits of natural light in office spaces, such as increased employee satisfaction and productivity. But that’s not all, if you have an office with lots of windows, switching the lights off for a few hours during the day can also reduce electricity use and utility bills! Another option would be to switch to motion activated lighting in areas that are infrequently occupied including bathrooms, meeting rooms and corridors so you can reap the same benefits.
Ah, the thermostat – the source of most office conflict and a complete drain on building resources. But how often do you reprogram your thermostat? In the summertime or during warm-weather months, the standard recommendation is to set and maintain your air-conditioning between 24°C and 26°C to reduce energy use yet keep the office cool enough to prevent a mutiny. In the winter, adjust the temperature as needed, but consider decreasing the temperature or turning the thermostat off altogether at times when the building is empty.
There are multiple aspects of the office where you can use more sustainable materials rather than going for the cheapest option, and it’s entirely up to you how much you’d like to change. Just pick out a few do-able ones from our list and go from there:
In the digital era, printing documents out isn’t really a necessity anymore. Rather than pinning an announcement poster on a bulletin board or printing out proposals for client meetings, utilize a virtual platform for communicating with your employees and bring along your laptop or a spare iPad if you have one for client meetings to project your presentation on a screen instead!
Did you know that certain appliances can continue to draw energy from your electrical outlets even when they’re sleeping or turned off? Not only can these energy-slurping electronics sneakily cause a fairly substantial increase to your energy usage, they’ll raise your utility bills too. The only solution for this is to stop their onslaught at the power strip.
By putting in a smart power strip with a programmable timer to signal the strip to turn off at a certain time or sense when a room is no longer occupied, you can quickly reduce the energy expenditure of your office.
If a power strip is not for you, encourage your employees to turn off any electronics or lighting when they leave the office by adding some visual reminders at the exits and next to the switches.
In all honesty, banning single-use plastics altogether is neigh impossible in a world where office workers rely on quick takeout food on a daily basis. But in the grand scheme of themes, even a reduction in the use of single-use items is an extremely effective way of reducing your office’s impact on the environment.
Rather than punish employees for buying single-use plastic, office managers can lead by example and replace all plastic materials in the office with compostable or reusable alternatives. Plus, the addition of a recycling system that allows employees to recycle their single-use plastic items will help to offset any remaining waste produced in the office.
If reducing your carbon footprint simply isn’t an option, there are other ways to offset your CO2 emissions. Commission an audit of your company’s current status before looking at how you can neutralize major offenders like corporate travel, and counter your energy consumption by joining a carbon offset program or purchasing carbon credits.
Introducing a recycling system is fairly straightforward, but it requires a little more effort than adding separate bins for the plastic and metal waste and leaving your staff to their own devices. It is just as crucial to educate your employees about how to recycle correctly. For instance, not all plastics can be recycled, so people should have an idea of that or risk contaminating the recycling bin with unrecyclable materials.
This is perhaps the hardest yet most important step of them all. Because even when you offer all the opportunities you can to make an office more environmentally friendly, the success of your efforts ultimately boils down to employee implementation. When everyone in the office makes full use of the green features available and do their part to execute such systems, you instantly maximize the effects of your eco-friendly office.
So, there are a few things you can do to increase uptake:
Our QUBIC pods are a great way to add multifunctional space to your office so you can reduce your energy usage and carbon footprint. Reach out to us today to find out more!