When aiming to reduce your carbon footprint, there are many aspects of life where changes can be made to start making a difference, especially where our workplace routines are concerned. One simple area highlighted in part 1 of our guide to a greener workplace is with regard to paper-saving measures that can be put in place; most of which are simple steps to creating a greener office that also have both time and money saving advantages on their side as well as their obvious environmental impact reducing benefits.
Making inroads into policies regarding paper usage is only one area that changes can be made to improve the green credentials of your business however. Everybody knows the importance of saving energy, and with a little thought and the implementation of revised work practices and habits, everybody can do their bit to help reduce the reliance their workplace has on fossil fuels and minimise the amount of energy wasted each year.
- Turn computers off at the end of the day
It is a misconception that computers take a long time to load up if turned off at the end of the day. If you don’t want to have to wait for the computer to start up because it feels like wasted time sitting looking at an hourglass as your computer loads, switch it on as soon as you walk in to the office, and while it thinks, make a drink, hang your coat up, greet your colleagues or organise paperwork (unless you’ve gone electronic!) or your routine for the day. Leaving your computer switched on when not in use still uses 30 watts of energy, which when you consider that, dependent on the size of the processor, it uses between 100 and 200 watts in full use, switching off can save a significant amount of energy.
Similarly, if you go out for lunch or for meetings and are away from your desk for any length of time, turning your computer off can save lots of energy. Switching a computer off for an hour lunch break every day would save 7.8 kWh of electricity over a year which is equal to 3.6kg of CO2.
- Turn monitors off rather than leaving them on standby
Although many people do stick to turning their PCs off at the end of the day, there is a significant amount of people who leave their monitors on standby. A TFT monitor typically uses 1 watt of energy when on standby in comparison to 25 watts when in use. Now this may sound an insignificant amount of energy to be saving, however if a monitor is left on constantly, this amounts to around 16-17 hours per day when nobody is using the computer, and 64 hours over the weekend. If you consider that the average office will have at least 10 computers, leaving monitors switched on standby all year round wastes at least 28.6kg of CO2 – the equivalent of travelling 580km, or from London to Edinburgh, by train.
- Switch lights off
Switching off lights seems such a simple action, and it is something that takes minimal effort. There are many rooms in offices around the world where lights are left on such as in kitchens and toilets; rooms that are not in constant use. Turn lights off after you, or if you pass by a room where someone else has left the light on, and prolong the life of the lightbulbs and save energy at the same time!
The same goes for at the end of the day or if everybody in your office is out for a meeting or lunch. Rather than leave lights blazing for no reason, turn them off. Although not an option for everybody, you could also try taking advantage of natural daylight instead of blotting out the sun with blinds and using artificial strip lighting, and only put the lights on when you really need them.
Installing movement sensors in rooms like toilets is a great way of taking it a step further to ensure lights are only on when somebody is using the room.
- Switch printers off
Many offices have large photocopiers, printers and scanners that clunk away all day but continue to hum all night until they’re needed again the next day. Turning them off gives them chance to cool down and again saves money on energy bills.
- Go energy efficient
When equipment such as computers, monitors, lightbulbs or printers need replacing, upgrade to energy efficient models. They will save money in the long run as well as energy. In the case of computer screens, TFT monitors only use a third of the 75 watts of energy needed to power old fashioned CRT screens. In addition, there are many options for energy efficient lighting as technology has improved; an area again where an initial investment certainly pays for itself over time. Energy efficiency is especially important with items like fridges if you have a kitchen. Manufacturers are constantly improving efficiency so go for the best you can afford if you want to be as green as you can.
- Switch to a green energy supplier
There are many tariffs available to enable your company to choose a greener option with regard to who is supplying your energy. Ecotricity supply a number of commercial businesses, including Sainsburys and The Co-Operative, Good Energy provide renewable energy, and many other suppliers have green tariffs. Switching gives more support for clean renewable energy and doesn’t have to cost you any more than you currently pay. Unless you are in serviced offices, this could be a major step to making your business a green business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask the question if your energy supplier isn’t directly under your control.
Even if you don’t have the power in your company to make the big changes, a few small changes can make a big difference, especially if everybody was to adopt a greener outlook. As well as making changes to your routine and taking actions such as those suggested above, encouraging colleagues to do the same, or doing it for them if they don’t, such as by going round the office at the end of the day and turning any offending monitors off, can help make even more difference. By taking small and simple steps consistently, everybody can do their bit to help save energy, resources and essentially, the planet.
Other items you might find of interest:
- Greening The Office – A Guide To A Greener Workplace Part 1
- Countdown to Earth Hour…
- Water Meters – The Environment Agency’s Answer to Water Wastage