07 Mar 2023
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9 ways to make your office more environmentally friendly
The world is becoming more cautious about our precious environment, and we all want to pitch in. But where do you start? It isn't hard to find things you can do to become more environmentally friendly, but it takes time. In this article, I have included 9 ways you can make your office more environmentally friendly.
#1 Lower the temperature
The first thing you can do is to set the temperature between 18 celsius and 20 Celsius. Studies show that turning down the temperature by just 1 degree Celcius saves approximately 7% of the energy used to heat your office. But do not turn down the heat too much, as another study shows that your employee's productivity will decrease if the workplace is too cold. Sitting in an environment that is too cold can be distracting, and I have tried it myself. What I figured out was that I would be spending more time thinking about my cold hands than about the actual work. I would also spend more time in the bathroom heating up my hands under the hot water. So, an office that is too cold is in my opinion a no-go.
Another downside to an office below 18 degrees Celsius is that you risk getting mold. Rooms that are below 18 degrees tend to get moisty if they aren't ventilated correctly, and that means an increased risk of getting health-threatening mold.
#2 Go paperless
Another way to help the environment is by going paperless. Paper comes from trees which we need to turn CO2 into breathable air. There is a lot of confusion on the internet about how many sheets are made from a single tree. But the average turns out to be 5,000 A4 pages depending on the size of the tree.
Going paperless in a company will not only ensure that more trees get to stay in the forests, but it will also save your company lots of money. I have worked in companies where each order was printed out in multiple copies. This meant the company could use up to 1,000-2,000 sheets of paper per day. Had they instead gone paperless and kept the order online, then they would not only have saved tons of money on paper but also helped the world to become more sustainable.
#3 Buy solar panels or renewable energy
One significant change you can make in your office is to ensure your electricity comes from 100% renewable resources. One way is to change your subscription to a renewable source, and another is to buy solar panels. The best and most reliable option is to buy physical solar panels that are installed on top of your office. The electricity generated will be transferred directly to your office where it will be used. If you change your electrical subscription you won't be sure to get the renewable energy you buy. Having a renewable subscription only means that the company will add your portion of the electricity from renewable sources to the grid. So the actual electricity you use might be from gray resources. But of course, if your only option is to change the subscription, then that's the best choice.
If you don't have a roof with space available to install solar panels, but still want to invest in renewable energy, then there is a third option. Some countries allow associations to be built for the sole purpose of creating renewable energy. This means you can buy shares in an association, and in return, they will buy solar panels that will produce electricity for you.
#4 Switch to smart LED
When I was younger the world made to change to switch from traditional lightbulbs to LED. This made a significant change in the amount of electricity used for lighting. But since then we have been standing still waiting for yet another electricity-saving technology.
The technology is already here, but many haven’t thought of investing in them yet. At the office, it is common to turn on all the lights which will be burning the whole day even though the rooms are empty. To some, it is the inconvenience of turning on and off the light, and to others, it’s because it simply isn’t worth it. With smart bulbs and motion sensors, you can get around that problem. With a sensor in each room, the light automatically turns on when people are present and turns off when they leave. This trick could save you lots of money in the long run and best of all; smart bulbs and motion sensors are cheap.
#5 Buy local and sustainable office supplies
When you have to buy office supplies, you should choose some local, sustainable products. Many supplies have traveled halfway across the world before ending at your office which makes them much more polluting than those supplies produced in your country.
#6 Get indoor plants
Plants are essential to our existence, and together with plants, we have seen lots of benefits such as stress relief, better air quality, and improved health. In today's corporate world, it is common with offices full of technology and furniture but no living plants. One way to become more sustainable is to buy some indoor plants to have in the office. Not only will you add some color and make your employees happier, but you will also help to relieve stress, improve health and improve the overall air quality in the office.
Studies have shown that when we are in nature we are more relaxed and less stressed. We think clearer and we are generally happier. So by adding indoor plants to your office you will do both the environment and your employees a favor.
#7 Work from home
Working from home has always been an option in some companies, but it was first during the COVID-19 pandemic that most of us got to try it for ourselves. We saw the benefits, and today many people have adopted this work-from-home lifestyle.
Working from home comes with some clear benefits, and one of them is that you pollute less by cutting away your commute to and from the office every day. You are also creating more space in the morning traffic by staying home, so it leaves the city less crowded for the people that don't have the option to work from home. Another benefit that I discovered myself, was that working from home also gave me an additional 1.5 hours each day, which I can use together with my family.
#8 Commute or bicycle
If you are one of those that doesn't have the option to work from home, then you can choose to commute or take the bicycle instead of taking the car. I have a few days every week when I need to come into the office and to transport myself I take the bicycle. Even though it is raining, windy, or snowing I ride my bicycle 11 kilometers each way. The 11 kilometers going home is almost strictly uphill since I live on a hill about 130 meters above sea level. If you don't want to bicycle to and from the office, then you can commute which also pollutes much less than taking the car.
#9 Friendly competition
Becoming more sustainable is a lifestyle change, but like with anything else it is easy to get stuck and fall back into the old routines instead of evolving. So a little friendly competition is healthy, and what better place to have that than the office.
A competition could be about seeing who is the most environmentally friendly sole in the office. The winner could win a prize such as a new bicycle, an extra vacation day, or maybe even become the green representative in the office/the one that decides how the office should become more sustainable.
If you are more interested in making your home office eco-friendly, please take a look at this article from Porch: 3 Ways To Create an Eco-Friendly Home Office.