Going Green in the Office

In the past half-century, our society has become increasingly conscious of the profound ways in which our everyday decisions, procedures, and behaviors impact the natural environment in which we live. As natural resources dwindle and fragile ecosystems become threatened by the results of human action, sustainability is more crucial than ever, and more and more people are making efforts to “go green”. While many people are going green in their personal lives, it is just as important—and just as simple—to bring these sustainable habits to the workplace by going green in the office.

One of the most effective steps to take in the path to sustainability is minimizing paper use and paper waste—even going paperless. Documents can be stored, organized, accessed, and edited far more efficiently, securely, conveniently, and sustainably through use of an electronic document management system (EDMS) than through a reliance on paper files. By replacing paper files with digital files, an EDMS, such as that offered by Biel’s, eliminates an enormous amount of paper waste (according to Coopers & Lybrand, “90% of corporate memory exists on paper”). Meanwhile, by compiling a centralized, easily-accessible repository of documents that can be sent through automated workflows, an EDMS can save a business both time and money, resulting in significant ROI.

How else might a business eliminate paper waste? An office can implement double-sided printing as a default setting in all printers, and add a simple email signature to all email correspondences reminding staff members to consider the welfare of the environment before printing. This will help to prevent employees from printing emails and other documents that don’t really need to be printed. Employees should be provided with and encouraged to use scrap paper for note-taking. Meeting agendas can be incorporated into slide shows or emailed rather than printed, while employee manuals and other materials can posted online rather than distributed on paper. While conserving paper resources, a business can conserve other materials by purchasing remanufactured ink cartridges; these cost about 15 percent less than new cartridges, and conserve about 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic as well as half a gallon of oil per cartridge. Other materials—such as cardboard, glass, batteries, fluorescent tubes, plastics, and IT equipment—can be conserved through the implementation of an office-wide recycling scheme.

To reduce power consumption, printers and other IT equipment should be shut down during out-of-office hours. A business can install equipment with timers or automatic shutdown software to ensure that this protocol is always met. Similarly, light sensors can be installed in areas used intermittently during the work day, such as restrooms and meeting rooms, so that power is not wasted on lighting these areas unnecessarily. To reduce power spent on lighting, an office should make the most of sunlight streaming through office windows. A business might consider replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent ones, which use less power. Climate control systems might be set to maintain a temperature of 20-22 degrees Celsius during office hours and shut down during out-of-office hours. To reduce consumption of fossil fuels by employees—contributing to the maintenance of clean air and reducing carbon footprints—a business might consider encouraging employees to telecommute in appropriate situations.

Finally, at low cost and high impact, a business can reduce carbon emissions by switching to green web hosting, then use an eco-label on its website to promote environmental consciousness among customers and other visitors.  If you’re ready to go green, please contact Biel’s today!