Greening The Office

Photo: Loungepark/Getty Images

I write a lot about greening my own home, but what about the workplace?  I do have a few tips that will save money in energy and help to green up the office by reducing the environmental footprint.

Reduce paper. When printing, use both sides of a piece of paper in order to conserve. Keep a scrap paper pile for misprinted or unnecessary documents to either print on or write on.   Also, think before printing, you may not need a hard copy.

Reduce your waste. Bring your own coffee cup or water bottle to work to avoid buying Styrofoam or paper cups and throwing them away every day. Also, bring your lunch in a reusable container rather than a disposable paper bag. Lastly, make sure your company has an easy-to-use recycling program and that everyone is educated on how it works.

Be conscious of your supplies. Some office supplies are better for the environment than others;  Consider refillable pens and mechanical pencils rather than disposable ones.  There are even corn starch based pens that break down in landfill.  Most office supplies can be made from recycled materials and a cheap to buy.

Office Equipment – Computers, printers, fax machines and photocopiers all contribute to an office’s electricity consumption. New office equipment has become more energy efficient and includes facilities to automatically reduce power when not in use. This is known as ‘stand-by’ or ‘sleep’ mode. For most office equipment the power consumption in sleep mode is between 5% and 50% of its operating power.

Turn off equipment if it isn’t needed – This is the easiest way to reduce energy costs. A check at the end of the day (especially on Fridays) should be done to ensure all equipment is off.

Install plug-in timers – Use plug-in timers to automatically switch off some equipment after hours. These are especially useful for photocopiers, printers and appliances which do not have automatic switch-off functions.  The continuous boil hot water in the kitchenette is a great appliance to target for a time!  TIP – It’s a good idea to post clear instructions on how to override timers for people who may require equipment out of hours. Otherwise you may find them disconnected by a frustrated staff member!

Computers – Make sure all computers are turned off when not in use, especially overnight, weekends, and at lunchtime. A notice reminding people to switch off computers when not in use will keep staff aware of energy saving initiatives. Each desktop computer left on a lunchtime costs about $5/year if not set to low power or sleep mode.  Increasing numbers of computers can be responsible for the increase in office energy consumption.

Switch off monitors – The monitor of a computer uses more than half of the energy consumed by the machine. Newer computers have functions that automatically switch off the monitor after a set period of inactivity. For older computers turn off the monitor, even if the computer itself is left running.

Turn off the Screen Saver – most computers allow a screen saver to appear when they become idle for a certain period of time. Screen savers do not save energy, they are merely a protection device to maximise your screen’s useful life. They do not replace the sleep mode or switching the monitor off.

Use laptop computers – Laptop computers use about one tenth the energy of a desktop computer. Connected to a monitor a laptop still uses about half the energy of a desktop machine.

So, if you follow some or all of this tips, you will save money for your business and lower your environmental footprint, and you will find that staff will feel more engaged because the company shows that they care about the environment.  Give yourself a pat on the back if you have already implemented some of these tips!

Are there any others that I have missed?


  1. says

    I admire the valuable information you offer in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and have my friends check up here often. I am quite sure they will learn lots of new stuff here than anybody else!

  2. Anonymous says

    I haven’t been in an office since the big lay-off, but I can think of a few things. I usually used the elevator if going up more than two floors, but almost always used the stairs going down (usually up to 7 floors). Gravity can be a friend. Also, if you drink coffee late in the day, find a coffee station that still has coffee rather than making a new pot. And keep a few real cups on hand to encourage the styro crew to switch over. Leave the mini blinds open when the sun can give a heat assist. Close them to help block summer heat. Dislodging a few flourescent tubes can save power and stop those nasty reflections on your monitor.

    Just little things, but it all adds up.

    brenda from ar

  3. says

    My hubby, who was never very green, has started saving all the junk mail you get and uses the backs of them to print our worksheets on. It is amazing how much paper we have saved by just this small thing. I think he haas saved a whole Forrest of trees in the last few years!

Comments build lively communities. Let me know your thoughts, but keep it clean and green! Spam is removed instantly.