49 Simple Steps to a Sustainable Office

A Guide To Sustainable Office Practices

Turning your place of business into a sustainable office will reduce expenses, increase brand awareness, improve productivity, and more.

Stock photo of a sustainable office.

Why a Sustainable Office / Workplace?

Most people would like to incorporate ways that they can save money in their businesses.

The great news is that you can reduce your stress and your budget, while also helping to ease the stress on the environment.

There are many things you can do as an individual and as an organization, to create the changes needed to make an impact in reducing your carbon footprint.

There is no time like the present to consider these sustainable solutions and mindset for your company and reap the benefits.

Any size offices can make small changes, which will provide significant benefits to the 3 P’s: People, Planet and Pocketbook.

Start by getting your staff on board with the idea and the transition will be a lot easier and much more fun.

Equip your staff with knowledge on what it means to live and work more sustainably, and that there are many choices that can make a big difference.

The benefits can be significant in terms of improving indoor air quality, natural daylighting, visual appeal, environmentally friendly products and systems, marketing and other attributes.

Start by creating a “sustainable culture” within your business.

Remember, actions speak louder than words.

A plant growing in a pile of change coins.

Get Your People on Board with the Save Money Concepts 

  1. It all starts with you. As the leader of your team, you must be excited and committed to the process, ‘walk the talk’.
  2. Encourage an atmosphere of cooperation and excitement by getting your team involved in the groups objectives and strategies.
  3. Ask for insights and ideas from all members of your team, and then seriously consider the information you receive .
  4. They will feel like valuable members of the team because you cared to ask for their input and this encourages an atmosphere of true cooperation and collaboration.
  5. As a result, everyone is motivated to work together toward a common goal, rather than feeling forced to go along with someone else’s vision
  6. Start an ideas bulletin board, an in-house newsletter, or a blog to keep your team up-dated on the progress of your goals .
  7. Start an Environmental Taskforce, with Team leaders, to monitor current office practices and make suggestions for changes that can be implemented with timelines for completion and monitor the progress.
Crumpled piece of paper.

Minimize Overhead Expenses by Reducing and Reusing

  1. Reduce paper consumption by not printing emails.
  2. Use both sides of every sheet of paper before shredding it.
  3. Place notices next to copy machines to remind people to ask themselves if they really need to make this copy or can they email the document instead.
  4. Place recycling bins next to each copier and in each office or at each end of the building, to make it easier for your team to stay on task with recycling, if you make it easy to do, its more likely to be done
  5. If you still use faxes, use a fax server to have faxes sent to your PC, rather than being printed.
  6. Print your own letterhead in house to minimize the need to keep large stocks on hand and this allows for changes to be made more cost effectively.
  7. Most towns offer waste paper recycling, sign up with a collection company.
  8. Buy and use recycled paper with the highest post-consumer waste content, when possible.
  9. Send invoices and statements electronically.
  10. Use electronic planners and calendars.
  11. Turn off lights when a room is not in use and / or add automatic sensors on the lights in bathrooms.
  12. Replace burned out light bulbs with energy efficient ones, such as LED’s.
  13. Install a programmable thermostat to automatically lower the temperature of the office an hour before leaving at the end of the day and to raise again only 30 minutes before opening in the morning during the winter and to perform the opposite functions in the summer.
  14. Turn off all computers and other machines at night.
  15. Install motion detectors on outside lighting to keep them from being on all night.
  16. Electric audits save money. As part of an overall energy reduction strategy, some energy providers offer an electric audit. Assessment of the lighting levels and light quality relative to the visual task being performed is important.
  17. Switch to low flow water fixtures, such as faucets and toilets and put a filter on the faucet to drink tap water, instead of buying bottled water, or bring your own water from home. Use a glass bottle.
  18. Invest in reusable cups, plates and silverware.
  19. Use fair trade or organic coffee and teas.
Photograph of contract on table with happy clients in the background.

Increase Your Brand Awareness and Reputation with Consumers 

  1. Companies with an eco-sensibility benefit because consumers believe that when they support companies like these, they do more than just shop there, they align themselves with businesses that do good things for the environment.
  2. Help your customers and vendors understand the enhanced value and health benefits they can gain through the steps that you are taking.
  3. Research has demonstrated that younger generations show a much greater affinity to those businesses that demonstrate a commitment to a sustainable culture and care for the environment.
  4. Align your company branding with people’s existing values about the environment.
  5. Create marketing materials which can be easily emailed rather than printed and snail mailed to prospects and clients.
  6. Work with local businesses. Whenever possible, choose products and services from local businesses. You will reduce the energy required for transportation, keep dollars within your local economy, and develop stronger bonds within your region.
  7. Become known as a company which promotes telecommuting for your employees or encourage minimized alternative transportation, such as car-pooling or bicycling; this enhances community reputation and provides an excellent benefit for your staff.
  8. Use a phone system, which allows your company phone to ring in numerous locations at once, so your clients won’t know that your are not all in one place; this system allows for calls to be transferred anywhere, as well.
  9. Use instant messaging with your team so that everyone can stay in touch readily and maintain a sense of connection to each together, from separate locations.
  10. For face to face conversations, install Face time or Skype with a video camera, to keep in touch with your team and see them while they work remotely.
  11. Use conference call options to meet with clients, rather than commuting.
Photograph of a happy employee sipping coffee.

Create or Enhance a ‘Feel-Good Energy’ in Your Sustainable Office / Workplace

  1. Everyone wins when we create an environmentally responsible business and corporate culture.
  2. Encourage even the smallest changes from your staff.
  3. Teach your team, your friends, help your family, and just do the best you can – everyone will eventually do their part.
  4. Putting in a little effort to change the way you do things at your office, to benefit the planet and the team itself, always makes people feel good about their company, and about what they are doing for themselves and the earth.
  5. The more improvement your team sees in the savings and efficiencies they help create, the more they are going to want to accomplish.

Other Things to Consider

  1. Be conscious of the cleaning products used in your sustainable office and only use ones that are healthy, non-toxic and safe for use.
  2. Educate your staff about the influence cleaning products have on the health and welfare of office staff; reducing their exposure to harmful cleaning substances improves productivity, morale and days lost to illness.
  3. Bring in live plants to help to clean the indoor air.
  4. Have the HVAC system filters changed or cleaned regularly.
  5. Allow in natural daylight wherever possible, to minimize the need for artificial light. Day lighting improves the happiness and well-being of the team and increases their efficiency.
  6. Choose low or no VOC (volatile organic compounds) furnishings and building finishes, such as in flooring, carpeting, paint, adhesives, and sealants; you should also consider the VOC levels in your purchases of furniture, fixtures and equipment.
  7. Outside, consider using native plant species selected to require minimal watering; also add rain barrels to store and replenish groundwater for plants.

For more information contact the AIBD High Performance Team.

Written by Jennifer Pippin, FAIBD.
Featured Image by Alesia Kazantceva on Unsplash.
Other stock photos purchased from TechSmith Assets.

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