Eco Office Essentials

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past fifty years, you’re probably aware of climate change and the consequences it’s set to bring about for our planet. Rising global temperatures will bring with them rising sea levels, loss of habits and more extreme weathers – none of which is good news.

But how does this relate to the workplace and facilities management? Well frankly, our nation’s infrastructure simply isn’t cut out for extreme weather. Public transport ceases to run after a light dusting of snow, roads become icy death traps and train commuters experience delays and cancellations across the country. And the cold isn’t the worst of it. If you’ve ever experienced the hellish temperatures of the central line during August then you’ll know that the other end of the scale is equally hard to handle.

Temperatures soared so high that last summer was one of the hottest since records began. Business people passing out from heat exhaustion whilst crammed like microwaved sardines on the tube became a daily occurrence. So how do employees and employers cope with erratic climate change? What steps can you take in the office to help our planet and make a dent in preventing the heating of our planet?

The aim of this blog is to give you some ideas and spark a discussion about how FMs and employees alike can handle this ever-growing problem moving forwards.

Go paperless

This tip almost seems trivial given the digital age we now live in. From cloud storage services to digital pay stubs, the need for paper and printers in the workplace has rapidly decreased in past two decades.
Get rid of the temptation to print by reducing the number of printers in your office. You could even donate them to a local school or non-profit organisation in need.

Get motion sensors

You can make a real positive difference to the amount of energy your company is wasting by installing motion-activated light switches. These are particularly good for conference/meeting rooms as they are often separated from the main body of the office and less frequently used.
Rather than relying on employees to switch-off the lights as they leave or enter, motion-activated lights are human proof: they save energy automatically.

Get some greenery

Having plants in the office has so many benefits. Not only do they look lovely but they also help to offset your company’s carbon footprint by counteracting carbon emissions as well as naturally purifying the office air.
Some plants are better at this than others; we recommend Spider Plants, Peace Lilies, English Ivy or Bamboo Palms. Check out our white paper on maximising use of plants in the workplace here.

Go plastic free

Plastic. Strong, mailable and durable. Hailed as one of the best discoveries of the era when it was first made in 1907. Over a hundred years on and about 8.3 billion tonnes of the stuff later and we are currently living in a media vendetta against plastic (sorry if that’s news to you, rock-dwellers). Google ‘plastic in the sea’ and the results are really quite shocking. Marine life is choked, drowned and starved due to the enormous amount of plastic floating around our oceans. But cutting out plastic is something that we can all do and by businesses making small changes a huge impact can be made.

Unplug!

Have you ever been the last one in the office after hours and felt a ‘hum’ around you? Well, the good news is you’re not going crazy and the place isn’t haunted. The bad news is, it’s ‘phantom power’.
Simply turning off your electronics before you go home doesn’t stop the power consumption. Phantom power, or standby power, eats up a huge amount of energy. Unplugging will cut down on the amount of energy that is wasted (and save you a pretty penny as well).

Also …

• Ban the sale of drinks in plastic containers on site and get rid of disposable cups. Provide your staff with their own branded drinks cup. Not only will your staff appreciate the gift but this will make a huge difference to the amount of waste your company produces and actually have a positive impact on the amount you are spending in the long run.
• Stop using liquid hand soap in bathrooms. People sometimes worry that sharing a bar of soap is less sanitary than sharing a bottle of liquid soap. But think about it: the bar soap gets rinsed off every time you use it. The plastic pumps? Not so much. Where do you think the most germs are accumulating? And not only is it more hygienic but it will save a whole lot of plastic in the long run.
• Choose to order toilet roll that doesn’t come in plastic wrapping. There are a variety of companies online which offer this service and some even donate a portion of their profits to fighting climate change. No plastic. Check out this brand on Amazon.
• Avoid disposable plastic pens. Think about it: how many plastic pens have passed through your hands at the office? How many of those have been lost or thrown away when a better one comes along? This is a lot of plastic. Use pencils as much as possible and for times when a pen is necessary, switch to a refillable fountain pen.

So that’s it. Those are our top tips for being eco-friendly at work. However, this just scratches the surface on what is possible to change and real reform is needed to make a lasting difference. At the very least, we hope this blog sparks a conversation. What tips do you have to help our planet at work? If you would like to provide us with your suggestions for creating an eco-office- Tweet us now at @Whereworkplacew

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