Having a “green” business doesn’t necessarily mean building a state-of-the-art facility that has its own recycling center. There are simple, affordable steps you can take to make your business more eco-friendly, even if you rent your office space.
Change your office habits
Installing a bike rack or offering bus passes to your employees promote alternatives to driving to work. Recycle paper, plastics, toner containers and batteries. Instead of disposable break room supplies, invest in washable dishes, glasses, coffee cups, etc. Instead of offering bottled water, install a UV type water filtration device in your break room and encourage the use of water bottles and glasses.
Make sure all lights are turned off when they are not needed, and at the end of the work day. Set all printers to double-sided printing to conserve paper, and reuse discarded paper as scrap paper or note pads when possible. Source office supplies made from sustainable or recycled materials. Designate a central container for wet trash to eliminate the need to replace all can liners on a nightly basis. Use power strips that contain a master outlet and place the workstation’s computer in the master position – when the master device is turned off, it will turn off all items plugged into the power strip. Encourage associates to power down their work stations on a nightly basis. Eliminate the use of space heaters, which will reduce energy consumption, improve air quality, and improve safety. Find ways to go paperless where possible. Many of these suggestions will also help you reduce your office costs!
Work with your Property Manager
Retrofitting your office with LED lighting is inexpensive and can pay for itself in a short period of time. Some cities even offer tax rebates to businesses that make the switch. Occupancy sensors may be appropriate for your office as well, and can be surprisingly inexpensive. Ask about green cleaning practices to reduce the use of harsh chemicals and cut down on the use of paper and plastics associated with the cleaning process. Inquire about the HVAC hours for your space and make sure the HVAC system does not run when it isn’t needed. When improvements such as painting or carpeting are performed, make sure that the products being used are sustainably sourced and produced. Introduce live plants to your office space, taking care to ensure that they are maintained by a professional interior landscape company – personal plants or improperly maintained plants can introduce mold and bugs into your office environment.
Change the office layout
The right furniture can help you get the most from your floor plan. In turn, you may end up using less office space and consuming less energy for heating and cooling. Make sure that your layout maximizes the use of natural light available in your space. Many furniture retailers will even conduct a free furniture audit to help you best utilize your space.
Write a green lease
When you update or sign a new lease, ask for “green language” to be included. That can be as simple as asking the landlord to report the monthly energy efficiency of your building or agree that only sustainable building materials will be used in common areas.
Being an eco-friendly company has many benefits. In addition to preserving our natural resources and contributing to a cleaner planet, environmentally-minded businesses tend to have healthier employees who are more productive and stay with the company longer. All good reasons to practice a more sustainable approach to business.