11 Tips for Going Green in the Office
Here at Swift Office Cleaning Services, we have something to celebrate. We’ve achieved the ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Standard and we have been selected as a Finalist for the South Essex Business Awards in the Environmental Awareness category.
Going green in the office has been a focus of ours for some time. Here are our 11 tips to help your company become more environmentally friendly – every small change you make can have a big impact.
Tip 1 – Switch Off
Most computers and office hardware, such as printers and photocopiers have standby modes, which consume less energy than when in use. However, just utilising the standby mode may not be as energy efficient as you think. According to government figures, if a company with 200 PCs turned off all the computers and monitors every night and at weekends, they would save £12,000 a year.
Even reducing your PC monitor brightness from 100% to 70% can save up to 20% of the energy the monitor uses and minimising the sleep mode settings on your computer saves even further.
Sumir Karayi, Chief Executive of 1E, says switching off computers has other benefits too:
Switching PCs off can make them last longer. If you leave a computer running for too long, software inefficiencies mean it will eventually run out of memory. They are more functional if you reboot them now and again.
Tip 2 – Reduce Printer Usage
You’ve seen the message on a thousand emails; we don’t know if it’s helping to reduce waste, but we know it’s worth trying.
Developing an office culture where people think before you print will help to reduce waste, energy usage and will be better for the environment.
However, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to eliminate printing altogether so consider switching your paper to a recycled paper. There are office supplies companies dedicated to green stationery, such as The Green Office. It’s their policy to also offset the carbon emissions associated with the delivery of your recycled office supplies by planting a tree for each order over £100.
Tip 3 – A Light Bulb Moment
According to the Energy Saving Trust, office lights left on overnight use enough energy in a year to heat a home for almost 5 months. Simply switching lights off overnight could save the UK £170 million a year.
It is also worth switching from traditional light bulbs to energy saving models such as LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes). Although they cost more to buy than other energy efficient bulbs such as CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps), they provide greater energy and cost savings over the long term.
Tip 4 – Water Efficient Fittings
A good way to reduce water consumption at work is to make use of water efficient fittings. Some taps can be fitted with special valves and filters that aerate the water and therefore reduce overall water flow. Sensors can also to be installed, turning the tap on only when someone has placed their hands underneath it.
Ensure that leaky taps and toilets are fixed; a toilet that is leaking can waste up to 400 litres of water per day according to Thames Water adding £312 to your annual bill.
Tip 5 – Hand Drying: Hygiene vs The Environment
The most environmentally friendly way of hand drying in office bathrooms is with jet air systems. The Dyson Airblade hand dryers produce up to 79% less CO2 than other hand dryers and are able to dry 18 pairs of hands for the price of a single paper towel. Jet air systems, however, rocket bacteria around the bathroom making them one of the least hygienic options.
If hygiene is your priority then hand towels are best – but of course the paper waste comes at an environmental cost.
At Swift Office Cleaning Services, we can provide clients with recycled paper hand towels to help minimise the impact on the environment.
Tip 6 – Use Refurbished Equipment
Making use of refurbished computer equipment can be an innovative way to extend the life of computer hardware, saving not only money but reducing the volume of equipment ending up in landfill.
There are many repair and remanufacturing programmes with leading computer suppliers such as HP. HP is in industry leader in product take-back schemes and since the first scheme was founded in 1987, they have recovered 1,683,000 tonnes (3.71 billion pounds) of computer hardware (for reuse and recycling) and HP supplies (for recycling). There are also a number of printer cartridge recycling schemes which are easy and beneficial to use.
Tip 7 – Plants
Plants are not only aesthetically pleasing in the work place; they absorb carbon dioxide and other toxins, cleaning the air and they also encourage better working.
A 10-year study by Dr Chris Knight at Exeter University found that employees were 15% more productive in the office when sparse work environments were filled with just a few houseplants, as employees who actively engage with their surroundings are better workers.
According to CIPHR, Spider Plants, Cactus, Peace Lily, and Rubber Plants are a selection of the most effective and environmentally beneficial plants to keep in your office.
Tip 8 – Recycle
Recycling is an obvious way to go green in the office. Recycling waste provides more environmental benefits and lower environmental impacts than the other waste management options such as landfill or incineration, according to WRAP.org.uk.
In an office you can recycle paper, aluminium cans, printer cartridges, cardboard and other packaging amongst other common workplace items.
Business rates do not cover waste recycling, however, we believe it’s worth the investment. The cost will depend on where your office is located, what you want to recycle and how much you generate.
Here is a comprehensive list of the things to ask a waste contractor.
Tip 9 – Introduce a Cycle to Work Scheme
To encourage healthier journeys to work and reduce environmental pollution, the government offers a cycle to work scheme, which allows employers to loan bicycles and necessary safety equipment to employees as a tax-free benefit.
Full details can be found on the gov.uk website, but according to the guidelines:
Employers of all sizes across the public, private and voluntary sectors can implement a tax-exempt loan scheme for their employees.
Tip 10 – Introduce Remote Working
Remote working can be an effective way to go green. Statistics recently released from Flexjobs indicate that because remote workers don’t commute, don’t require an office space (therefore don’t contribute to energy consumption related to offices) and they tend not to overuse paper documents, they have a minimal impact on the environment.
According to the article – in 2014, remote work policies by Xerox, Dell, and Aetna helped them save a combined 95,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (equivalent to taking 20,000 passenger cars off the road).
For employees who want to work from home, it can improve their work-life balance with reduced commute times and it’s significantly cheaper. Business benefits include, a productive and motivated workforce, less demand for expensive office space and of course, the benefit of reducing your organisation’s carbon footprint.
Tip 11 – Awareness
Creating a culture for going green in the office is the key to success.
Encouraging and engaging employees to be a part of the environmental effort will help change perceptions and behaviour – integrating key environmental practices and reducing energy consumption will become part of your organisation’s day-to-day work.
Results from the Swift Office Cleaning Services London Office Workers’ Survey found that employees are fairly ambivalent about the importance of a green office. 31% responded with a 3 out of 5 for importance only very closely behind 35% giving green credentials 4 out of 5 for importance. This could indicate that offices are not currently implementing practices to reduce environmental impact in the workplace, or that they do, but employees are not engaged in the going green effort.
The Carbon Trust has a very informative guide to creating an awareness campaign for employees.
There are also other schemes such as The City of London’s Clean City Award Scheme to become involved in and help drive employee engagement. It aims to raise the profile of responsible waste management, whilst recognising and rewarding the good practice of ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’.
Are You Ready to Go Green?
Implementing some or all of these tips will help reduce your company’s impact on the environment.
To further improve your green credentials in the office, speak to us about our green cleaning services. We have achieved ISO 14001:2015 certification in Environmental Management and have been selected as a Finalist in the South Essex Business Awards for Environmental Awareness.
Call us today on London – 0203 1741 723 or Essex – 01279 413 641 for a FREE no-obligation office cleaning quote.
By Katie Holtby, Sales Manager