Promoting sustainability in the office is a great way to help protect the environment while also cutting costs. Regardless of the size of your business, everyone can benefit from utilizing sustainable working practices.
The three golden words to follow are reduce, reuse, and recycle. These can help shrink your impact on the environment and cut costs.
The majority of these practices are simple to enforce, yet very effective. Here are 15 ways to promote sustainability in the office.
Why Be Sustainable?
Being a sustainable workplace has multiple benefits, and any type of business can reap the rewards.
For starters, employees are more productive in a healthy and sustainable work environment. The more productive your workers, the higher your office efficiency gets.
Not only do employees feel better, but customers are more likely to shop there. Millennials are the target audience that every business is aiming for, and unlike previous generations, they take climate change seriously.
Cost reduction is something that every business struggles with, and being sustainable can help with this. Remember, reduce, reuse, and recycle. Reducing the number of resources you use, like electricity, is a great example.
15 Ways to Promote a Sustainable Work Environment
The methods listed below may not be applicable to every business, but the majority are. Keep in mind that effectiveness may vary.
1. Reduce Energy Usage
Energy reduction is one of the first methods businesses look at when it comes to cost reduction. There are multiple ways to lower the amount of energy you use, and they are easy to implement.
Of course, lowering the amount of energy also lowers your business’s carbon footprint. In 2017, 28% of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions came from the energy sector.
First, you need to be aware of what uses the most energy. In a typical business or home, lighting, heating, and air conditioning are the major contributors to a high energy bill.
The simplest way to reduce usage is to make sure these devices are not on when no one needs them.
2. Use Energy Efficient Appliances
While you can certainly turn off appliances and electronics when you are not using them, it doesn’t quite fix the issue for mandatory ones.
For example, during business hours, it is normal for stores to leave their lights on. Thus, you can’t cut their usage. However, you can reduce the amount of energy they use by using energy-efficient bulbs.
Almost every type of appliance has an energy-efficient model nowadays that can save you money every month.
3. Unplug Unused Appliances
Most people are unaware that appliances still draw energy when they are off. The energy they draw allows them to turn on quickly, which can be quite useful.
This is commonly referred to as a phantom load or vampire draw. One of the biggest offenders of this are televisions.
For example, if you run a sports bar, odds are you have a few televisions plugged in. When you close up shop, take the extra minute to unplug them, this could save you quite a bit over the course of a year.
This will probably not be a surprise to anyone, but recycling is one of the best ways to improve your sustainability. Plastics, paper, and metals get thrown out on a regular basis.
The materials you recycle will be melted down and reused to make new ones. While this is simple to understand, one of the largest benefits is the amount of energy it saves.
It takes more energy to create new plastic than it does to recycle it. An easy way to promote this behavior is the make sure employees properly dispose of recyclable materials.
A great way to save money and be more sustainable is to reuse equipment and furniture when possible. While it may not be possible all the time, putting in the effort makes a big difference.
Though, there are many items that you do not want to reuse for sanitary reasons.
Reusing can include things like finding furniture that your business may need, like shelves, couches, and tables, at a thrift store. This will only cost a fraction of the price and you are preventing it from being thrown out.
6. Don’t Print, Email
There are many businesses that choose to print out large numbers of flyers. While these have benefits, they are not good for the environment.
You can be more sustainable by setting up an email subscription. This allows you to send out emails as frequently as you want that have more information than a flyer does.
What about memos? In reality, email works better than printing out company-wide memos thanks to mobile technology. Your staff can receive these no matter where they are located.
7. Green Webhosting
To be successful in 2019, your business needs a website and that means you need a web host. In reality, studies show the web hosting industry will surpass the airline industry in greenhouse gas emissions.
That’s why at Greengeeks, we take the necessary procedures to ensure that our servers promote the use of green energy. In fact, we purchase 3 times the energy we use to put back into the grid.
Be responsible and use a green web host.
8. Don’t Let Heat/AC Escape
Heat and Airconditioning use a lot of energy. Thus, you can save a lot of energy by making sure the hot or cold air is not leaving your business.
While it may be a bit obvious, I have visited many stores that have the AC running but leave the front door open during the summer. This completely defeats the purpose of using an AC and is a big waste of energy.
Today, you can add paint additives to insulate the walls, use double-paned glass in windows and so much more.
In many instance, the upfront cost of energy-efficient additions can impact the workplace and your bills almost immediately.
9. Install a Solar Panel
While this might be more involved and expensive than the other tips, it is well worth it. A solar panel can eliminate or significantly reduce your electric bill every month.
It’s one of the most potent ways to promote sustainability in the office, especially since customers may directly see the panels. You’ll promote the business as being “green” without saying a word.
On top of this, if it produces more energy than you use, that energy is sent to the grid which reduces the amount of energy needed from fossil fuel sources.
Don’t worry, you will be credited for the energy you send back to the grid if your local power company supports the reimbursements.In fact, it’s not unheard of for some homes and businesses to earn a credit or even a refund by putting power back into the grid.
If you live in a very sunny climate, your business is the perfect place to install a solar panel.
10. Charge Appliances Overnight
A well-known fact your utility does not make clear enough is peak hours vs. off-peak hours. Essentially, peak hours are when energy is in much higher demand, thus it becomes more expensive.
For example, 100 watts of energy at peak hours often does not cost the same as 100 watts in the dead of night. This makes it smart to recharge your appliances overnight.
This also helps reduce the amount of energy generated at peak times.
For proper sustainability in the office, charge the laptops and other devices at night. Just make sure you unplug those units once they are completely charged.
11. Use Water Efficient Equipment
Water is another area that you can improve your sustainability and reduce business costs. As climate change becomes our reality, water will become scarce.
And the price will increase substantially.
You can make water last longer by using less of it. Water-efficient equipment and proper maintenance can reduce your bill substantially.
A great tip is to avoid watering your lawn or plants when rain is expected. Many businesses set up a sprinkler system to keep their lawn looking great, but it’s a big waste of water when they are going off in the rain.
Today, you can install monitors to operate the sprinkler system. The detect rainfall and turn off automatically.
12. Avoid Single-Use Plastics
Plastic pollution is a serious problem and everyone can make a difference. Replace single-use plastic items, such as utensils, staws, and others with reusable ones.
In this instance, sustainability in the office might mean someone has to wash the dishes. Of course, this also depends on the type of business you operate and whether in-house utensils are even a problem.
A great idea is to encourage customers to use refillable bottles. For example, you can refill water containers (or coffee), at a cheaper rate than buying it in a plastic bottle.
You can even make it profitable by selling the reusable containers yourself!
13. Motion Sensor Taps
How many times have you walked into a public bathroom and noticed that someone left the sink on? This could be a customer or an employee, and it can raise the water bill significantly.
To combat this, most companies have invested in motion sensor taps. These are sinks that track your motion and dispense water when your hands are under them.
There are also many sanitary benefits, which is always a strong plus.
14. Print What Is Necessary
Unfortunately, businesses have a bad habit of printing out paper that gets disposed of almost instantly. Analyze exactly what you are printing out and determine what is necessary.
This is a huge waste of money, and there’s a very good chance the paper will not be disposed of properly. A great tip is to make sure you are using both sides of the paper.
This can significantly reduce the amount needed, which in turn saves you money.
But perhaps the best way to combat printing expenses and promote sustainability in the office is to move to a paperless system. Nearly every aspect of business can be done digitally today. And most cost less per month than what you might spend in paper, ink and storage space.
15. Hire Remote Employees
Employees are perhaps the largest expense for any business. But it goes further than just pay and benefits.
For instance, in-house staff cost you in terms of electricity, water and square footage of the business. Not to mention any computer equipment and tools needed to work.
Remote employees often use their own utilities, computers and equipment while reducing your overhead costs.
Not only that, but remote hiring gives you access to talent from all over the globe. You could build an amazing team!
Sustainability in the Office is the Future
The target consumer is already concerned about the environment, and the generation following them is even more concerned. If you want your business to survive and thrive, it needs to be sustainable.
Not only will it attract more customers, but it also saves you money. Energy, water, and supplies are going to add up, and being more sustainable is about reducing the amount you use.
Being sustainable is just the right thing to do.