Green Office Journey & Best Practice Checklist

What if Climate Change and Species Extinction is a hoax and we create a kinder, better world for nothing!!!

Given how much time we spend at work, greening our office is a natural extension of the environmentally friendly actions so many of us are already taking at home. While it is true that at home we have a personal vested interest in changes that save energy, water and money at work it is more difficult to get buy-in to do things differently. There are however many rewards for embarking on a Green Business Journey. Cost savings is a good motivation. More important is an environmentally responsible way of working that sustains your business and your job into the future.

Shifting behaviour to that of Green Office Best Practice is a journey and not a plug in and play or overnight refit.
Do staff at your office talk about environmental issues, energy costs, sharing lifts to save fuel, recycling options etc.? Would a Green Office Best Practice Plan be difficult to implement? Going Green at work is a day-by-day, department-by-department commitment that requires sharing information about costs and solutions, setting targets and providing incentives. Form a Green Team to guide the process. It is important to get input and buy-in from all levels of staff as well as to educate staff about the why, how and when of new green strategies and to feedback on progress.

Getting started is usually the most difficult, but success breeds success. Start with an action that is achievable, where positive results are visible or can be measured and can be rewarded. The checklist below provides some key points to include in a Green your Office Action Plan / Green Office Best Practice Plan. Email Kim for a copy of the Green Office Journey Checklist in a table format.

A Green Office Best Practice Checklist.

How Energy Efficient is your Office?
Do you know which appliances and activities use the most Electricity?
(Do an Energy Audit to assess your consumption.)

Do staff generally:
– switch off appliances when not in use?
– unplug appliances which use standby energy when not in use or have you installed a power saver plug?
– put on a jersey rather than a heater?
– open the windows or use fans rather than air conditioning? .
– repeatedly heat a kettle or hot water urn for tea / coffee or does the kitchen have a flask.

Are the office light bulbs low energy ones (fluorescent /CFL or LEDs)?
Is natural light from windows optimal or obscured by furniture?

Is the hot water for washing efficiently heated (solar geyser, flow through geyser, induction geyser or heat pump)?
Does your business buy green energy or generate energy (photovoltaics or a wind turbine)?

Transport – how fuel efficient is your Office?

What percentage of staff use public transport or walk or cycle to work ?
Does your office:
– have a lift club (car pool)?
– choose company vehicles with a low fuel consumption?
– source local products and services for the business?
Are deliveries of equipment designed to ensure shortest trips or combine collections & deliveries to save trips?
Do staff regularly use telephone or video conferencing instead of driving or flying to meetings?

How Water Wise is your Office?
Do you know which activities use the most water?
(Do a Water Audit to assess your consumption.)
Are cars, windows, courtyards, sidewalks etc washed with a hose pipe ( rather use a bucket to wash cars and windows and a broom to sweep yards)?
Are dishes washed and rinsed under a running tap or in a basin of water?
If your office has a:
– shower, does it have a low flow shower head?
– toilet, does it have a low flush or a brick in the cistern?
– garden, is it an indigenous water wise garden?

How Waste Wise is your Office?
Does your office:
– have a paper saving policy &  reduce paper use. e.g. print back to back. re-use office paper for rough notes, etc?
– have recycling bins and is the paper, plastic, tin and glass recycled?
– take batteries & fluorescent lights to drop off centres?
– take electronic equipment (computers, printers, cell phones etc) to an e waste recycler or drop off centre?
– take chemicals and used print cartridges to drop off centres?
– have a worm farm and or bokashi bin for organic waste?

How Eco- Friendly is your Office?
While energy and water efficiency and re-using and recycling reduce carbon emissions and improve environmental sustainability, eco-friendly actions are specifically aimed at reducing chemical pollution and harm to Earth’s biodiversity. These actions relate to replacing toxic chemicals with eco-friendly ones and to generally using products from earth and people friendly sources. So….
Does your office use eco-friendly or Green cleaning agents? These are safer for staff in indoor spaces as well as for the environment.
Is the office tea and coffee fair trade and or Organic?
Are staff encouraged to bring a packed lunch rather than buy take- aways which are usually unhealthy and have lots of packaging?
Does your office have a water cooler and if so do staff use their own mugs rather than disposable cups? Consider a water filter in the staff kitchen as an eco- friendly alternative to bottled water.
Is the office paper either Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified or 100% recycled content office paper?

The above list is not definitive, but hopefully provides a good idea of where to start. Once your office Green Team gets going and you get buy in from the staff, other actions will begin to suggest themselves. Network with peers to find out what is working for them. Perhaps start a Green Building or Green your CBD Programme and involve the other businesses in your block by sharing ideas and energy to tackle common issues or start communal greening projects. “The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destinations.” John Scharr. I believe that the changes to the `maker’ will provide fulfilment while the `destination’ will provide our children with a civilized future. In the words of Paul Hawken: ” Business is the only mechanism on the planet today powerful enough to produce the changes necessary to reverse global environmental and social degradation.”

KimK June 2013