The Green Office

The Green Office is not about the color of your office space walls, but the desire of business owners and managers to be socially and environmentally responsible. Many tenants are beginning to insist on more environmentally friendly office space. According to a recent Green Building survey "Despite the financial scars, the principle of energy efficiency is now deeply embedded in the culture of commercial real estate. An overwhelming 95% of corporate respondents stress that green design is important in the site selection process." If you are reading this, you are probably included in this group; those who are recognizing their corporate responsibility to be good citizens. Many are taking The Green Office; the use of recycled, environmentally friendly, and sustainable business products, and paper, very seriously.

Joe Serna Jr. California EPA Headquarters Building Sacramento, CA A Green Office incorporates design, construction and operational practices that significantly reduces or eliminates  negative impacts on the environment and its occupants. The green office is an opportunity to use resources efficiently while creating healthier environments for people to live and work in. Photo at right is Joe Serna Jr. California EPA Headquarters Building Sacramento, CA

Green office space not only includes the building, office products, but transportation as well.

The National Safety Council estimates that riding the bus is over 170 times safer than automobile travel – and it's greener too!

One person flying from Los Angeles to New York causes as many emissions as the average American driver does over the course of 2 months

US Green Building Council Office SpaceThe US Green Building Council has the LEED Rating System to rate buildings as to their environmental friendliness. "The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria. "

The BIG question: How can we incorporate the Green Office into our business without too much pain? In actuality, it is not too difficult.

General Green Office Practices

Following some of these tips will not only help your office become greener, but will save you money, too.

  • Turn off your computers and monitors overnight and on weekends.
  • Buy and Activate the "Energy Star" energy saving functions available on most computers and other office equipment. They are up to 52% more efficient.
  • Turn off lights when not in use.
  • Use motion detecting switches in less used areas
  • Open windows instead of using air conditioning where possible
  • Turn off your climate control when not needed
  • Do not buy bottled water.  Use a water filter if needed.
  • Give preference to locally manufactured supplies.
  • Install desk side recycling
  • Use email instead of USPS mail
  • Store electronic reports rather than paper reports
  • Avoid using FAX cover sheets
  • Use the double sided feature of your printer.
  • Reuse paper for note pads.
  • Buy only recycled paper.
  • Replace light bulbs with lower wattage or compact fluorescents.
  • Get flat screen monitors for your computers. They are more efficient.
  • Maximize the use of natural light in your space by placing private offices in the interior areas for the space.
  • Insist on biodegradable and non-toxic cleaning supplies.
  • Buy re-manufactured or refillable toner cartridges for printers and photocopiers.
  • Printing Services Selection suggests that before purchasing printing services from a provider, make sure that the materials and practices they use are sustainable.  The Solid Waste Management Controlling Board has compiled the following list of recommended requirements for printers:
    • Vegetable-based and recycled (filtered) inks; avoid inks containing heavy metals
    • Recycled-content (30% minimum content) and tree-free blend papers; PCF – process chlorine-free is the best environmental choice
    • Alcohol-free printing processes
    • Solvents free of toluene and methylene chloride
    • Paper recycling and reuse programs
    • Workplace safety and accident reduction programs
  • Measure the Impact of Your Energy Use on the Environment at the EPA Website. They will also help you to explore what you can do to lower your emissions while reducing your energy and waste disposal costs.

Other Green Office Resources

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