There are powerful benefits to developing a more environmentally friendly office. Not only does it reduce your operational costs, but the carbon savings and greater sustainability credentials can be a powerful marketing and customer engagement tool, demonstrating your commitment to being an ethical and responsible business that is aware of its broader impacts on local and global communities.
Here are our top 10 focus areas for 2016;
Take a long, hard look at your printer
If your staff are constantly printing off meeting agendas, internal documents, proposals, emails and images, then it's time to look for a better alternative. One of the most inefficient areas for businesses is paper usage, and a lot of prints don't actually need to be made. A quick and low-cost way of doing this efficiently is to make the switch to cloud-deployed business software. File-sharing systems are available so that staff can collaborate on documents and share ideas without ever needing to go near a printer.
For those occasions where a printer is still needed, choose the smart option. Always print double-sided and use recycled paper. Recycled printer cartridges are a great option for everyday printing at a lower cost, and it is worth adjusting printer settings so that people aren't using expensive colour print when it isn't needed.
Look at lights
Work with your office building manager to establish lighting standards and to identify where you could install more environmentally friendly light bulbs to reduce costs. These new bulbs also tend to last for longer too and are far brighter than first-generation energy-efficient bulbs.
Split up your shared area waste facilities so that you have appropriate disposal routes for paper products, glass and plastic and non-recyclable waste. Educate staff on the importance of recycling, and work with a waste management provider that can advise you on how to be 'greener' in this area. You could even take things a step further and look at composting for food waste. If your business produces lots of food waste, then this can be a great way to create a high-value product out of waste that might otherwise go to landfill. Your local council is a good place to start here.
Get on your bike
Encourage your staff to start using their bikes or to walk, car-pool or take public transport to work. Not only will it cut carbon emissions, but it will also make them healthier. You can also make your office more bike-friendly by incorporating bike storage designs into your office space. Consider also introducing cycling incentives and competitions in your office to increase take-up.
Switch things off
Change the office culture so that all electricals are switched off at the end of the day. Delegate responsibilities so that staff are also turning off printers, coffee machines and other key pieces of equipment that otherwise burn electricity all night. If you switch your PC monitor settings to sleep after ten minutes rather than thirty, the energy savings are equivalent to running a small fridge. Additionally, leaving your photocopier switched on overnight uses the same amount of energy needed to print more than 1500 paper copies.
Incentivise staff to make their lunches at home or source local food for a staff lunch deal. Ultimately, your aim needs to be to reduce the amount of plastic and waste that is being used in the office, and supermarkets and fast-food joints are the worst offenders when it comes to pointless disposable rubbish.
Say no to junk mail
If you are getting junk mail in the post, make sure you unsubscribe from it. This will slash waste of paper, fuel and associated pollution from the manufacturing and delivery processes and minimise wasted time in sorting through it too.
Use green products
There are plenty of green alternatives for everyday products, from pens to paper cups. Work with your supplier to get better bulk-order prices. Incredibly, if each office worker in the UK used one less staple daily, 120 tonnes of steel would be saved annually.
Embrace natural lighting and heating
All productive offices need bright and natural lighting, so keep blinds open if you have big windows and don't rely on internal lighting. Equally, open windows rather than using air conditioning. An hour of air conditioning uses as much energy as a TV need for a year. Remember to shut those windows at night, though - a window open overnight in winter will waste energy equivalent to a small car driving for 35 hours.
By Chris Jenkins, Project Director, Peldon Rose