Greening the Office
 


Well over 50% of the UK's workforce is now office based. The combined environmental impact of these office workers is considerable. The introduction of environmentally friendly practices and products need not be difficult or expensive; simple changes to current practices can save time and money and lead to improved motivation amongst staff.

Our habits, the way the office is run, the equipment we use and the products we purchase all effect the environment. Positive action can be grouped in the following areas:

  Energy Consumption

Make your work place more energy efficient. Select a green supplier (sourcing electricity from renewable sources) where possible.

 

Lighting

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switch off lights in unoccupied or bright rooms

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use low energy lighting and position lighting to make maximum use of the minimum number of light sources

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use natural light, move desks closer to windows. Investigate other measures such as timers, sensors and match lighting levels to the area in use

 

Heating

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improve insulation and draught proofing

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don't heat unused areas and switch heating off over weekends, holidays, etc

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reduce temperatures by one or two degrees in work areas as an experiment. Every degree reduction will save 6% of the energy used

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service heating systems regularly

 

Electronic equipment

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turn off equipment when not in use. Use one power strip to turn off everything at night.

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use standby and energy saving modes

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use timers

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buy energy efficient equipment where possible (e.g. energy star rating for computers)

 

• Office Consumables

 

Paper

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use both sides of the paper. Use only what you need. Avoid excess copies

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make double sided copying standard

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send circulars and avoid multiple copies or better: use a central memo board

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use recycled paper for copiers, fax-machines, printers, labels, pads, envelopes, letterheads, folders, ring-binders, publicity material, direct marketing, brochures, etc

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use waste paper for notes and memos

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file data on the computer rather than on paper

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use electronic mail, but avoid printing out every single e-mail received!

 

Other Consumables

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re-use files, ring-binders, etc. Purchase new ones made from recycled materials

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use refillable pens. Purchase new ones made from recycled material

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buy remanufactured or refilled toner and ink-jet cartridges for laser and ink-jet printers and fax machines

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use pencils made from unvarnished waste wood or recycled vending cups

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use marker pens with water based inks, avoid the use of xylene and toluene

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share items that are in occasional use, e.g. staplers or hole punches

• Re-use and Recycle Join a local waste exchange scheme. Contact Waste Watch (020 7089 2100)

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introduce an office recycling scheme for white paper waste, cans, bottles and where feasible other materials

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collect and recycle empty toner cartridges

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old office furniture and equipment can be donated to local charities instead of being thrown away

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return used computers and processors to specialist companies for refurbishment

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re-use waste paper and envelopes

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re-use packaging and avoid buying over-packaged products

• Buy 'Greener' Select suppliers that can be assessed for their environmental commitment.

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use recycled paper and choose a supplier who can give reliable advice on the credentials of their products

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where non recycled paper fibres are used, make sure they are from FSC sources

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avoid disposable or non-recyclable products as much as possible

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buy ecological cleaning and hygiene products, including recycled toilet paper

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avoid buying furniture or fittings made from illegally harvested timber, again make sure they are manufactured from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified timber. Contact FSC UK (01686 413 916)

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make green credentials part of the tendering process

• Beyond Office Practice Once your company/organisation is making progress in getting real environmental benefits from small changes in everyday office practices, the environment can be built into the decision making process. This should include:

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an environmental policy that becomes part of the induction procedure and training

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the undertaking of a green audit to encompass suppliers, transport and a regular review of your company/organisation's impact on the environment

To ensure the success of any of these measures, it is essential to gain the support and active co-operation from the staff. Feedback is vital. Keep staff informed of how well they are doing and think of incentives to encourage further action.

Finally, why not publicise the work you are doing inside and outside your company/organisation. It will enhance your image and benefit the environment.

 

 


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