Zero Footprint Week – Office


Office block at night

Today’s theme is the Office and how we can reduce our carbon footprint where we spend a fair bit of time. 

I work in on the 30th Floor of an office tower in the central business district of Melbourne, Victoria, so I have quite a few suggestions for this theme.  I see resources wasted  every day where I work, because people are very nonchalant about environmental issues.  A few people practice green principles at home, but most (not all) seem to fit the usual mould of a conspicuous consumer by using as many resources as possible, because they don’t have to pay for them!  Anyway, enough of a rant for now, here are the three tips from the Zero Footprint Week site for today with my personal experiences thrown in for good measure!

Switch off!   Not your brains at work, the appliances like PC’s, printers, photocopiers, and lights.  In the same way you turn electrical items off in your home, please do so at the office (this includes the home office for those that work at home).  Treating your office appliances just as you would those in the home can greatly reduce your office’s energy consumption and carbon emissions. 

By turning off PC’s at night and then taking the next step by switching them off at the wall to prevent standby power, goes a long way to reducing consumption.  That includes all peripherals like your monitor as well.  With at least 70 computers on a typical city office floor, that is huge saving that can be made by simply switching things off at night. 

Lights are another big one.  How many times have you driven past a city late at night and seen office blocks lit up like a Christmas tree.  From experience, no one works that late, and usually it is sheer laziness that has prevented these lights from being turned off.  Same goes for empty bathrooms and meeting rooms.  I am forever turning off the lights in vacant meeting rooms when I walk around the floor yet there are signs everywhere asking people to turn off the lights as they leave the room.  Once again, care factor zero. 

By implementing a responsible energy usage policy, your business can save as much as 20% on its monthly energy bills.

Starting or revitalising and office recycling program.  My office goes through hundreds of kilograms of paper each month.  Reams of paper disappear faster than a cold meat pie and a warm beer at a footy final.  I sit no more than 3 metres from a printer when at work, and I actually see queues forming during the day to collect printouts.  Surely people don’t need to print that much, At least the default setting on the printer is to print on both sides of the sheet.  This is a simple solution for those paper junkies.

There is hope at our office.  We have recycling bins for office paper, cans/bottles/plastic, and some floors have organic waste collections which is great.  Now if we can only get people to throw the right waste in the right bin we would actually get somewhere!  By reducing paper and organising an office recycling program you can reduce your carbon footprint at work considerably.  If you already have a reduction and recycling program, get behind it, and energise those around you to do so.  What do you think they make recycled toilet paper from?  Nice, white, recycled office paper, that’s what.  No bum is that special that it needs virgin paper to be wiped on it!  Recycle your used office paper and save our old growth forests from being felled. 

Measuring, offsetting and reducing carbon footprints.  Many businesses will be aware of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) that will be implemented by the Commonwealth Government in 2010, but not many will know what it means to them.  Well basically the more you pollute, the more you pay for the privilege.  The first step is to take an audit of your businesses carbon emissions.  If you don’t know how, take a course on Carbon Accounting.  It will serve your business well in the near future.  Once your footprint is determined/calculated, you and your fellow co-workers can set policies in place to reduce it or offset it.  By acting early, your business can be saved from the last minute scramble for green resources in 2010 when the mandatory CPRS goes into effect.  If you are interested in starting a green career, now is one of the best times to begin acquiring the skills that will be required for the future.

To find your office’s environmental footprint and more tips on how you can best improve it, please visit the EPA Victoria’s office footprint calculator.  It is a great place to begin to see what area needs to be tackled first.

Tomorrows post will be about Energy, and how you can reduce your carbon footprint in this area.  At last, my favourite subject!

Keep an eye on the official Zero Footprint Week web site for more tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint during the week.

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  1. says

    I only work outside my home one day a week but it is a Saturday so I only turn on the lights of the parts of the office that I need to to get my tidying up done, then as everyone drifts in they turn their office lights on.
    Last week it was HOT about 35 but I refuse to turn the air conditioning on when I am the only one in the office boy I was so pleased when they started rolling into the office at 11.30 becasue I can’t leave the back door open as I sit at reception and the keys to all the properties we have are hanging at the back and I can’t see.

    Plus everyone should be made little bags to carry their coffee cups with them to save on take away cups from the coffee shops, I have been doing this for years do you know they actually give you a discount if you have your own cup??


  2. says

    Working in the food industry for many years I remember working the cruddy shifts no-one wanted, usually grave yard or weekend evening, pays well, but cruddy shift. The moment I walked in the door, I would turn aircon off, turn off most lights in restaurant dining area, turn off all warmers except 1, turn off fryers and hotplates except one,turn off appliances that I know I wouldn’t use during shift etc.
    These things wouldn’t have been used for a few hours by the time I had gotten there so should have been turned off before I arrived, it was just laziness on the previous persons shift because turning off an appliance meant you had to clean it ready for thr next persons shift.
    Pure laziness and “I still get paid” attitude.

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