The workplace provides ample opportunities to be environmentally responsible. According to the Sierra Club, the largest and oldest environmental organization in the United States, business offices consume 19 percent of all commercial energy, costing about $18 billion each year. Moreover, a whopping 25 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions are from office-related travel, while the average U.S. office worker uses 10,000 sheets, or about 100 pounds, of paper per year. Spread out, that's enough to cover a desk 360 times.
Going green need not be a big deal. With consistent use, the following measures can reduce an office's carbon footprint, and in some cases, save money in the process.
- Copy and print on both sides.
- Turn used paper into scratch sheets.
- Don't print unnecessary pages.
- Proof documents on the computer screen before printing.
- Consider digital invoicing. E-mail billing offers a convenient way for clients to keep a running database of bills, without taking up shelf space.
- According to experts, artificial lighting account for about 44 percent of electrical usage in office buildings. To cut back on consumption, use CFL (compact fluorescent lights) bulbs.
- Use motion detectors so lights automatically turn off when not needed.
- Set the thermostat at 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter.
- Switch off office equipment (computers, printers, copiers, etc.) and surge protectors when leaving at the end of the day.
- Buy energy-efficient equipment and appliances.
- Buy recycled products from office supplies to kitchen provisions.
- Strategically place recycling bins (for instance, near the printer and copier, and in the kitchen/snack area) to make it convenient for employees.
- Recycle common office items such as most paper products, printers, computers, cell phones, PDAs and furniture.