Business of Well-being

Ideas for Going Green in the Workplace

Our activities leave imprints on our planet and some of these activities may be harmful to the environment and to us, ultimately. Little wonder the media has been awash with news and discussions on climate change; the polar ice caps melting and the environmental temperatures getting higher globally.

Since many of these activities are work-related, corporate bodies, governments, and pro-environmental organizations are beginning to rethink what we do and how we do those things in the workplace.

Going green is the only path to leaving a habitable planet for the next generation. This involves changing the paradigm in work and workplace design to ensure we leave the environment robust and healthy.

Benefits of Going Green in the Workplace

Going green not only benefits the environment, it also benefits the businesses and organizations themselves.

Lower Operational Costs

One key benefit to business owners is that it saves cost of running the business. Apple, for instance, recently opened a $5 billion headquarters called Apple Park. The headquarters has a suite of solar panels that can generate 4 million watts of energy, potentially saving the company billions of dollars in energy costs.

Government Incentives and Partnerships

The United States government offers incentives at local, state, and federal levels to business owners who follow the bare minimum environmental regulations set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These incentives are given in many forms, including tax breaks and credits.

For instance, the US federal government offers a green energy tax reduction of $1.80 per square foot to companies that reduce energy consumption by at least 50 percent. The use of energy-efficient products such as lighting and cooling systems also attracts a tax reduction of $0.60 per square foot for business owners.

In addition, government procurement is shifting towards selecting business owners with green initiatives as their suppliers and business partners. This creates more opportunities and a larger business network for your company.

Enhance Consumer Perception

Also, knowing that your company has adopted environmental-friendly policies and green initiatives changes customer perception. One Nielsen study revealed that 55% of consumers worldwide would pay a premium for products offered by companies that are eco-friendly.

This leads to increased sales and revenue for such companies. Network for Business Stability reports that sales grow by 6% for every dollar a company donates towards eco-friendly and green initiatives.

TOMS is another such company. The shoe and coffee company has provided about 47 million liters of pure drinking water to people in need of it around the world. The company is currently valued at $600 million.

Attract and Retain the Best Talents

Going green also helps your company retain the best talents. The same Nielsen study cited above found that about 70 percent of workers preferred to work in companies that are socially responsible. A UCLA study showed that there were 16 percent more employees in organizations with green practices than in those without any.

Some Green Workplace Ideas

From your office culture to your office design and supplies, there are many green initiatives you can employ to sustain our environment and improve your employee health at the same time.

Office Culture

  • Have office plants: at least one large one. These plants are not only green and good for the ambiance, they recycle the air.
  • Use only green cleaning products to clean your office and not synthetic chemicals that can cause damage to the environment.
  • Place recycling containers in strategic locations in your office and empty them regularly.
  • Promote the use of mugs, glasses, and dishes rather than disposables.
  • Only print when you need to. So many printed documents are not necessary, especially inter-office memos and documents, which you can send electronically. If you must print, print just one copy and post. Rather than print notices and agendas, you can use whiteboards or overhead projectors to display them.
  • Ensure all machines are turned off when not in use.

Office design

  • Reconstruct your office by situating stairs close to the entrance and elevators further away. This encourages people to climb the stairs more often.
  • Ensure offices have sufficient exposure to natural light. In addition to boosting workers' mood and energy levels, it saves your company energy for many light bulbs.
  • Use light wall colors; light wall colors reflect daylight and, in turn, reduce your need for more overhead lighting.

Office Supplies

  • Switch to green electricity: Use solar and wind-generated power in place of carbon-based energy.
  • Let some of your office equipment run on rechargeable batteries to save you some money and save the environment from toxic wastes from carbon energy.
  • Reduce or eliminate the use of products that do not have green alternatives, such as rubber bands.
  • Recycle your used office supplies, if possible.
  • Purchase a multipurpose printer that scans, copies, and faxes, instead of getting a different machine for each function. This saves energy.
  • Recycle your used computers.
  • Use recycled paper.
  • Purchase updated computer equipment; these are more energy-efficient than older ones.
  • Use cloth towel or hand dryers instead of paper towels in office restrooms.
  • Install low-flow faucet aerators to help reduce the amount of water flowing from taps.
  • Ensure your water taps don't drip; it may drip just once per second, but this will result in about 10,000 liters of water lost in a year.
  • Reduce heat loss from windows with weather-stripping and caulking.

We can begin to sustain our environment from our workplaces; making changes to what we do, consume, and how we get energy. It not only benefits our environment, it keeps us healthy and it is completely achievable.

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