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The Green Office Guide

Offices can be incredibly wasteful.  Disposable cups in the break room, paper being wasted, electronics running 24/7, etc.  Here are some ways to help reduce wasting energy and resources:

Computers:  

  • Shut off your monitors and put computer into standby or hibernate mode when you know you're going to be gone for more than a few minutes. 
  •  Turn your computer off every night.  I used to hear that shutting your computer down regularly wasted more energy than turning it off and on, but I've since learned that it saves energy to shut it down.
  • Set printers, copiers, etc. to go on sleep mode after even a brief period of inactivity.
  • Buy printer paper made of recycled paper and urge employees to print on both sides.  And don't print things too frequently, unless it's very necessary.
  • Look into using soy-based ink.

Energy:

  • Turn lights off when leaving rooms that are not in use, such as conference rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens.  Post notes in these rooms to remind people to do this.
  • Use CFLs instead of standard bulbs.  
  • Keep heat and air conditioning set at reasonable temperatures.  How many times are you freezing in the middle of July due to an over-air conditioned office?  What a waste.  
  • Program thermostats so that they drop low on nights, weekends, and holidays.
  • Urge employees not to use the lights in their office unless it's necessary.  Many times office lighting is an overkill, and a small table lamp will suffice.  Or better yet, if you're lucky enough to have an office window, open those blinds and let the sun shine in!

Kitchen:

  • Unplug kitchen appliances, such as the microwave, toaster and coffee maker, for the evening.
  • Ditch the water cooler.  Either use plain ol' tap or install a filter on the tap.  
  • Provide paper towels and napkins made of recycled paper.
  • Give each employee their own reusable coffee mug and water bottle.  
  • Keep reusable plates, cups, and silverware readily available.  
  • Get rid of vending machines.  (But keep your eyes peeled for eco-friendly vending machines!)  If getting rid of vending machines isn't an option, find out about having the light removed.  

Furniture:  

  • Avoid buying new office furniture.  You can usually find used office furniture in very good condition and for low prices.  If you must buy new office furniture, look for ones made of sustainable products.

Getting to work:

  • When possible, offer employees the option of telecommuting, at least even part of the time.  
  • When searching for a office space, consider finding a location near public transportation.
  • Have bike racks available.
  • Encourage carpooling.

Recycling:

  • Keep lots of recycle bins available throughout the office.  Keep one in the kitchen area, one at each desk, one by the copier, etc.
  • Have a program where employees can easily recycle things like batteries and ink cartridges.  

Other:  

Consider putting someone in charge of keeping the office green, or have a committee.  Get employees excited about making their office green and have contests for people who come up with more green ideas, people who consistently remember to bring their own coffee mug, and more.