Making your office more sustainable

Helping to make your office greener is not as hard or expensive as you may think. Even the smallest steps can have a big impact on your company's daily waste production and energy consumption. More than ever, people are willing to go out of their way to adopt environmentally-friendly policies and habits. The last couple of years have been uniquely challenging and as we start looking forward, this is a good time to re-evaluate our office space and business practices, and carve out a path to a more sustainable future. We’ve put together some tips below to encourage businesses and organisations to start embracing sustainability into their everyday business.

Go dark at the end of the day

It sounds simple, but one of the biggest wastes of energy is a failure to turn off lights and electronics at the end of the day. Not only is this practice wasteful, it is expensive and can affect your bottom line. Select one or two people who are willing to take ownership of powering down the office or building at the end of the day. While some computer systems don’t allow daily shut down, turning off the heat, air-conditioning, photocopier, and lights will still make a world of difference. Ensure that after-hours cleaners are aware of your lighting and power preferences too.

Set your thermostat with a light touch

It is amazing how many people you see in offices in the summer wearing heavy jumpers and even coats as their workspaces are made to feel like the Antarctic. Over-use of air-conditioning will not just make staff uncomfortable, it is a major drain on electricity. The use of fans and opening windows clocks a fraction of the energy used by HVAC systems and heat pumps. During the winter, personal heaters set to bespoke preferences near desks allow people to create their own little bubble of comfort and won’t use up tons of energy.

Green commuting is key

Encourage people to use public transport by offering to subsidise transport cards. Carving out spots for people to park bicycles makes it simpler for them to ride in and not worry about the safety of their bike once they arrive. Encouraging remote working will have the biggest impact on your company’s carbon footprint. People love spending less time in their vehicles so it's great for employee morale. Offering pool vehicles so that people can still get around after they carpool, rideshare, cycle, or take public transport will make things easier for everyone - even better if they are electric!

Use natural light

Especially given the strong New Zealand sun, unless you are working out of a cave it is rare to need all available lighting, all the time, in your office. In fact, it is more soothing and less harsh to turn off some of your overhead fluorescents and instead depend on windows and skylights when working. Chances are you will find little difference when working from your desk, assuming you have access to the sun’s rays.

Focus on your suppliers

Develop a sustainable purchasing policy in alignment with your values on the environment. When dealing with the people who provide your office supplies, chemicals, paper products, printed items, food, and more, it is important you understand how they impact the world around them. You can use surveys, online research, and independent advice for guidance.

Go paperless

Did you know that the average office worker prints 6,000 sheets of paper a year? What’s worse, is that around 62% is wasted or unnecessary. There are so many digital tools and software available now that reduce the need for printing. Also, consider other initiatives such as setting the default on printers to double-sided and to print in black and white.

Invest in LED bulbs

Office lighting is a great target for increased energy efficiency and if you still have fluorescent lights in your office, then you're not using the most energy-efficient lighting fixtures. Replace them with LED light bulbs so that you are sure that they save you energy and money. Depending on the size of your space there may be some significant upfront investment but they will pay for themselves in the long run.

Update your mailing lists

Especially within industries such as real estate, printed brochures and mailouts are still very much in use. Updating your mailing list/s ensures you are not sending out unnecessary letters, thus saving on paper, printing, and postage.

Use your green thumb

Make your office literally green with plants because they absorb airborne pollutants and emit healthy negative ions and oxygen into the air. Additionally, having some green plants in the office makes things feel less sterile and more zen.