14/05/2014

By Kenneth Freeman, head of innovation at Ambius,

With Green Office Week taking place this week from the 13th – 17th May, here are my 10 top tips to help make your workplace more environmentally responsible:

Go green with your printing

1) Change your font – Did you know that some printer fonts use up to 34% less ink than others? A recent story about a school boy in Pittsburgh who estimated that the US administration could save up to 24% of its printing costs just by using a different font generated a huge amount of buzz, while also raising an important issue of efficiency. With printer ink costing more, litre for litre, than a 1st growth vintage claret, companies could save a significant amount of cash by changing default fonts for MS Word and PowerPoint to Century Gothic 10pt which has been proven to use less ink than other fonts. There are also specially-designed eco-fonts available that claim to use even less ink, but they come at a cost.

2) Change your page margins - Set your page margins in documents to 20 mm (3/4 inch) top, bottom, left and right rather than 25 mm (1 inch) or more and you will get almost 10% more text per page, reducing the amount of paper needed.

3) Use draft quality settings - Unless your document is for a presentation or a letter, always print in draft quality. This will save at least 50% of your ink if you use an ink-jet printer (although less with laser printers and solid ink printers).

4) Always print double-sided - Set your print defaults to double sided now if you haven't already done so. If the text is still legible, try printing two pages per sheet as well.

5) Turn on your computer's spell checker - This might seem an odd suggestion, but how many times have you printed dozens of copies of a big document only to find typos and spelling mistakes, resulting in chucking away sheaves of paper and re-printing? You'll not only save paper, but ink and electricity too.

6) Do you really need to print at all? - Always ask yourself whether you really need to print that document in the first place. As a company, we adopted Google Apps very early on, and that allows us to store important documents in ‘The Cloud’ that can be accessed and edited from anywhere. There are many cloud-based solutions that allow people to collaborate on documents using all types of smart phones and tablets, as well as computers, and this can save time and a lot of paper.

Save energy in the workplace

7) Turn off the lights! - Offices often leave lights on unnecessarily and turning them off can save around 8 kW of electricity in an instant. Depending on your lighting system, you might find that a light sensor might be beneficial to turn the lights out automatically when background light levels reach a certain threshold, or when a space is unoccupied.

8) Check your office heating and cooling controls - In the summer, consider raising the cooling temperature for your air conditioning (AC) system - you won't notice whether the temperature is 22°C instead of 21°C (72°F instead of 70°F), but the AC will use a lot less energy. Likewise, in the winter, don't let it get too hot - lower the thermostat a degree or two and you will save significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and lower your costs too. You can always adjust the amount of clothing you wear too – a warm sweater is much more energy-efficient than a fan heater.

9) Make use of ceiling fans and blowers in the warehouse - If your business has a warehouse that needs to be kept at a comfortable temperature, devices (sometimes called destratification equipment) are useful to circulate the air around a space. This is important because if they are not used, the air warmed by heaters and hot lights will rise to the roof space and heat nothing useful at all. The fans and blowers will push the warm air back down to ground level where it can be used to keep people working in the space more comfortable. We found in one of our own premises that the fans were not working because the switch was inaccessible. By spending a few pounds to get the switch moved, we saved hundreds of pounds in heating costs almost immediately.

10) Switch off devices - Get into the habit of switching your monitor off when you leave your PC for more than a few moments. If you factor in all the time you spend away from your PC - tea breaks, lunch, washroom breaks, meetings - you'll be surprised at how much energy you can save.