Do you have a green office? 5 tips to make your company more eco-friendly

Companies all over the world are growing more aware of the importance of going green, whether that means cutting down on energy consumption and paper usage or encouraging employees to recycle. Nonetheless, there is more to being environmentally conscious than just throwing aluminum cans and plastic bottles in the right bin once you are done with them and turning off the lights when you go home for the day. There are a lot of aspects of making sure you have a green office that is eco-friendly that are easy to neglect.

Here are some other things you can do to contribute to building a more sustainable environment:

1) Car-Sharing

We tend to focus on what happens at the office itself, but what about what happens beforehand? Every employee that drives to work plays a huge part in adding to the strain on the environment caused by our dependency on gasoline. The most eco-friendly companies are trying to address this issue by encouraging employees to participate in car-sharing programs to cut down on the overall number of drivers on the streets. You can also provide incentives to employees to use public transportation, bicycles, or even to walk to work!

2) Get Certified

Another step that many businesses are taking is to seek LEED certification when building their facilities, including such well-known names as Apple, Google, and Adobe Systems. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and was developed by the United States Green Building Council to encourage “leaders in the industry as they innovate and create cutting-edge, high-performance buildings, homes and neighborhoods.” (http://www.usgbc.org/leed/why-LEED). This means reducing unnecessary energy consumption, using sustainable materials, and improving air quality, among other criteria.

3) Re-Use on a Large Scale

Although awareness of the importance of recycling materials used in the office has increased greatly in recent years, another way to help the environment is to actually make use of recycled materials themselves in as many contexts as possible. You can use recycled rubber to make recreational facilities like tennis and basketball courts or recycled wood to make chairs and tables. This is a particularly good option for companies that can’t retro-fit a whole building but that want to do what they can to have a greener office.

4) Get Chemicals Out of the Air

Along similar lines, in addition to using environmentally-friendly materials, businesses can also avoid using materials that are potentially harmful, especially those high in VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Particularly typical offenders in this area are the paints used on office walls and also the chemicals used to make furniture. Not only can cutting out VOCs help the environment, it is also can ease potential concerns about employees’ health, as there is still uncertainty about the long-term effects of VOCs.

5) Update the Head

A final area in which you can have a green office is one we often don’t like to talk about: the bathroom! It’s not only important to reduce energy consumption in the office, it is also ideal to cut down on the unnecessary use of water. Adopting waterless urinals, automatic flush valves, low-flow fixtures, and treating wastewater are all good steps toward sustainability, not to mention LEED certification!

Hugely successful companies like Nike, Bank of America, Twitter, and others are showing that you can be environmentally conscious and business-minded at the same time. What are you doing to improve your ecological footprint? What do you do to make your office green?

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About the author
Garret Stembridge is part of the team at Extra Space Storage, a leading provider of self-storage facilities. Garret often writes about sustainable practices for homes and for businesses. Many Extra Space Storage locations, including several in Baltimore, have been retrofitted to reduce energy consumption.

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