A sustainable workplace
Save energy and reduce waste at the office with these simple tips.
Whether you have a home office or own a small business, there are many things you can do to reduce the amount of energy you use and the waste you produce at work. From air conditioning to photocopying, here are some helpful tips for greening your workplace.
Heating and cooling
Filters should be regularly replaced or, if reusable ones are used, they should be cleaned often. Clogged filters increase energy consumption by overworking the system, and depreciate office air quality.
If you work from home, there are many ways you can reduce your need for air conditioning. And if you rely on AC in the workplace, it’s recommended that you set it no lower than 24°C in the summer. In the cooler months, use a programmable thermostat set to 17°C at night and 20°C during the day. Consider providing personal fans or electric heaters to allow the main system to be set at a more moderate temperature. Monitoring and adjusting the temperature can save 10 per cent or more on your energy bill.
Office equipment can consume a lot of energy, so when it’s time to upgrade your electronics, look for Energy Star models. National Resources Canada’s website is a good place to find Energy Star-certified equipment. Also be sure to adjust the energy savings settings for computers, so they go into standby after a few minutes of inactivity. If possible, shut down all computers at the end of the day; they consume power even in sleep mode.
In fact, many office appliances use “phantom power” when in standby. You can avoid this excess electricity draw by unplugging anything you’re not using. For convenience, use a power bar with an on/off switch or smart power strips to automatically reduce energy waste.
Select efficient lighting — compact fluorescents (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs) are best, and their design has come a long way in recent years. Install timers or motion sensors to ensure lighting gets switched off when certain rooms in the office are empty. And where lights aren’t automatically controlled, place signs around the office to remind staff to turn them off when they leave.
When it comes to paper, recycled is the way to go. According to forest protection group Canopy, one tonne of virgin fiber paper consumes 26 trees and 32 million BTUs of energy, produces 22,219 tonnes of wastewater and nearly 2,000 tonnes of solid waste! Switching to the 100 per cent recycled equivalent saves 100 per cent more trees, 31 per cent more energy, produces 53 per cent less wastewater and 30 per cent less solid waste.
Want to calculate the impact of your own paper use? Try out the Environmental Paper Network’s paper calculator.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
For most print jobs, you can probably just use scrap paper; keep a scrap-paper box next to the printer for easy access. Also, if you set your default print settings to double-sided, you could cut your paper consumption nearly in half.
In order to promote more recycling around the office in general, provide large recycling bins along with much smaller trashcans. Putting up signs next to each bin outlining what materials are recyclable or not can help make staff more aware and improve waste diversion.
Also be sure to stock the kitchen with dishes to avoid using disposable dishes and cutlery. If disposable dishes or containers are needed, choose biodegradable options. Supply the kitchen and bathrooms with reusable cloth towels, and aim to use eco-friendly cleaning products wherever possible.
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