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Going green at the office

Linda Trim

Sustainability is the new buzzword – both at work, and at home. Consumers are quickly going ‘green’, and are demanding that companies do as well. A greener workplace will mean a lighter ecological footprint, a healthier and more productive place to work and, in the long term, greater profitability.

So if your office is already green or still undergoing transformation, you can take some simple and practical steps to lay the groundwork for a healthy, earth-friendly and sustainable workspace.

I have gathered a few pointers to get you started on the path to green while at the same time keeping everyone happy, productive and inspired!

Green Tips:

  • Water wise: Measures such as dual-flush toilets, waterless urinals, and moisture sensors in landscaping can help to cut a company’s water usage by up to 30%;

  • Using concrete slabs when building an office building can lower a company’s energy consumption by as much as 25% because the slab is able to moderate temperature changes indoors, along with double-glazing of glass windows and doors to increase insulation from the outdoor elements;

  • Sophisticated lighting enhancement systems can drive diffused light deep into the building while minimising glare and heat. These systems typically provide enough illumination for 75% of employees to work by daylight alone, cutting the use of electric fixtures in half, so reducing loads on heating and cooling equipment, and helping create a more comfortable, pleasant environment;

  • By using recycled materials in constructing buildings, and recycling as much building waste as possible, the building is able to keep its carbon footprint down to a minimum;

  • A work environment where employees are able to see outdoors at all times helps boost their morale and increase their daily productivity. Also, having windows that employees can open and close at their own discretion so that fresh air is always available makes the building and the work environment healthier and allows employees to perform at higher levels;

  • Locate office buildings within walking distance of public transport. Businesses can lower their overall carbon footprint by encouraging employees to leave their cars at home and use public transport;

  • The more you do online, the less you need paper:

-    Keep files on computers instead of in filing cabinets. This also makes it easier to make offsite back-up copies or take them with you when you move to a new office;

-    Review documents on screen and don’t print them out; and

-    Send emails instead of paper letters.

Remember: New software helps eliminate blank pages from documents before you print them out. These can also convert your documents into PDF for paperless document-sharing .

  • Bringing lunch to work in reusable containers is likely the greenest (and healthiest) way to eat at work. Getting takeout almost inevitably ends with a mountain of packaging waste. But if you do order take outs, join coworkers in placing a large order (more efficient than many separate ones). Also, bring in a reusable plate, utensils, and serviettes. If you do go out for lunch, try cycling or walking instead of driving.

Author: Linda Trim is the director of Giant Leap.