Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ten Things You Can Do to Make Your Office Greener

With all of the focus on the environment and climate change these days, “going green” is not something that can (or should!) be ignored or put off. And while “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” may seem like a quaint and outdated phrase, the concepts embodied within it are as solid as ever. Using those concepts, though, can sometimes be overwhelming to us as individuals and it often feels like we can’t make a difference – especially in the workplace. Here are the first five ideas our staff suggested that can make a difference. They may seem like small things but remember: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…

#1. Set up recycling bins for glass, plastic, paper, cardboard, aluminum – whatever your office uses in quantity. Make recycling these items a habit and it will become an easy thing to maintain.

#2. Re-use plastic water bottles. Don’t throw out a bottle just because it’s empty. Clean it out and use it again! Once it is no longer re-useable, then it can go into the recycling bin. With simple cleaning, bottles can be re-used many times before they reach that stage. Better yet, don’t use disposable bottles at all! Keep a ceramic mug or a plastic or metal sports bottle at your desk for drinking water (or other beverages of choice) throughout the day. Hydrate while minimizing your carbon footprint.

#3. Replace incandescent bulbs with energy efficient bulbs. CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) last longer and use less energy than standard incandescent bulbs. You can do this for a personal desk light or workspace light even if you can’t get the main room lights changed.

#4. Turn off lights in unused rooms; turn them on only when needed. The reduced power use could save you some green as well as helping you be green. Installing timers or motion sensors on the lights can be a good backup as they can turn the lights off when people forget to do so or after a certain period once the motion in the room ceases.

#5. Make sure your computer is set for maximum energy savings. Most people know about these settings for their laptops since they are trying to eek out every last bit of power from the batteries – but did you know that most desktop computers can also be configured for energy efficiency? Change your settings so that the monitor goes to sleep after a few minutes of idleness instead of always being on and the hard drive goes to sleep as well after a certain period of inactivity. Ask your IT person about this if you are not comfortable doing it yourself.

Next week – the final five, plus a bonus tip…

- Karl Baur, CMP • Project Director, RDL enterprises