Have a look at the links listed below at the various place you can help the environment within your place of work and download the test questionnaire at the bottom of the Links to see how well your place of work is doing:
Heating can account for up to 60% of a non-air conditioned office’s running costs. Many offices waste a huge amount of money on their heating owing to poor insulation or wrongly adjusted thermostats. Remember that the recommended temperature for offices, not air conditioned, is 19-20 degrees C and make sure that the thermostat is located out of draughts or extreme temperatures. A one degree reduction can save 8% of the fuel bill.
Are your employees having to use their own or your companies small convector heaters under desks and in general office environments? Convector heaters are a sign that your heating system is not effective. Convector heaters also use a huge amount of energy compared to your normal central heating system. They will be pushing up your heating costs substantially. Adjust your heating to eliminate convectors as much as possible.
If used improperly, air conditioning can double an office’s energy costs. Avoid placing ‘hot’ equipment, such as photocopiers, near to vents, as this will decrease the efficiency of the system. Use time switches to ensure that the air conditioning is switched off outside work hours, and above all, keep your windows closed when the air conditioning is on. In contact centres air conditioning should be computer controllable. This should allow individual offices to be set at a lower temperature than open offices and should only allow a few degrees local adjustment if at all. It should also allow offices not in use out of hours to be shut off and Contact Centres (24 hour operation) to boost the temperature by two degrees in the middle hours of the night (2am to 6am).
Because the circulatory effect of air conditioning airflow you will need to set up the main temperature control differently to a non air conditioned office. Different people react differently to air conditioning and in most cases air conditioned offices need to be set a little higher than non air conditioned offices and the temperature needs some adjustment for winter and summer. A steady temperature in most cases for an air conditioned office should be not lower than 22 in Summer and 24.5 in winter. Single offices should be able to set their own temperature so that the person can decide for themselves how warm or cool they need to be. Multi-use and open offices (such as call centres) need much more care and a little trial and error. There is some evidence around that women feel the cold greater than men and therefore it can be that staff ration mix needs to be considered. However everyone is an individual and while the above is dealing with generalities all people are different. Trial and error needs to be considered in a new office environment where multi-use areas are used. Don't forget the temperature change programming mentioned above for those offices used 24 hours.
Save money on your lighting by converting to energy-saving bulbs. These use 75% less electricity than standard bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Replacing just 10 bulbs could save you more than £65 a year. Also consider using individual desk lamps where natural daylight is not sufficient: this is far cheaper than lighting an entire office. External flood-lights can save 20% of their energy if you use discharge lights instead of halogen bulbs.
If you have neon tubes fitted and cannot get them changed consider leaving them on in area's where they would be switch on and off repeatedly. Switching on a neon strip can use up to 20 minutes of its running costs just to get the starter going. If it is being switched on and off every ten minutes you are using too much electricity. Consider leaving it on.
In cases where energy saving bulbs cannot be introduced immediately you should consider putting together a plan of replacement over a two year period with the person in charge of the building infrastructure.
You also need to consider using motion sensors on your lighting systems especially in meeting rooms and other part used rooms. These will automatically cut off the light should the room be left unattended for periods of time. They can also be considered for corridors and rooms like toilets and store rooms.
If you are having any alterations done to your office building, always consider the natural light effect on the internal environment. many offices do not need lighting at all during the daytime and in cases of multi-use offices, task lighting fitted with a single energy saving bulb can enhance a persons need to have just that little bit brighten desk.
Do not fit lighting for the sake of it. Do you need those external floodlights lighting up you entry sign. Consider the use of glow in the dark signs that gain energy during the daytime and light up in the evening hours. Also consider your external pathway lighting. Put it on timers so that it comes on when staff need it but goes off afterwards, Make sure you adjust these for daylight times else you will be wasting electricity when your lights come on and the time change has rendered them not required.
Finally, encourage your employees to turn off lights whenever they are not needed as this could save you 15% on your bills. Small stickers can be bought from most label suppliers with the right message.
Office equipment is another key area where you can take quick steps to minimise your impact on the environment and reduce your energy use. Encourage your employees to switch off their computers overnight and not leave equipment on standby. Computer monitors in particular use up a lot of electricity, accounting for almost two thirds of a computer’s use. In one office they used to leave everything switched on including computer, photocopiers, printers etc. They found that by switching everything off when they went home at 5pm and only switching things on when needed, they saved 40 % of their electric bill.
Use double-sided printing for printers and copiers and use recycled paper. This can achieve savings of up to 40% on paper costs and save at least one tree for every three people in the organisation that uses printers per year. One 40 person company was able to save £40,000 a year on paper minimisation techniques. Use 80gsm paper in printers as standard this can save you money on 90/100gsm papers, save trees and demonstrate your environmental awareness. Also get your IT department or the best person at IT in your office to look at your printer to see how letters etc look in 'draft' format. Some printers can print as draft in an acceptable style and this saves money on ink. If this is not an acceptable format ask them to show you how to toggle between draft and non-draft from the desk-top. Draft can then be used internally while external letter go out non-draft.
Look at what you can do to increase the amount of 'paper' that can be sent over the internet instead of using snail mail or faxing. Brochures, business cards, advertising materials, photographs, specifications, instructions, invoices, receipts, and these days even birthday and Christmas cards can be sent this way instead of posting using paper, stamps and more time.
Do not leave the lid of the photocopier open. There is a sensitive LED inside and the use of this is reduced by exposure to light. Reduce the number of times the engineer calls by closing the lid.
Always make sure that paper is put in the printer or photocopier the right way up. Most people do not realise that there is a right way up for some photocopy paper but most come with a smooth side and a rough side. Look on the end of the packet. Usually where paper is of this type there is an arrow there indicating the correct way up for paper. This prevents mis-feeds, clogged photocopiers, engineer calls, delays and ruined paper. One company called engineers out on a regular basis. Because the photocopier company was a large one they very rarely had the same engineer. It was on the third visit from one young and knowledgeable engineer that he realised the problem was putting paper in the wrong way and when he instructed the office manager on this they no longer had the problem. However this had resulted after 67 calls for an engineer.
Try to read more on screen than continually printing out the papers. Use a filing system and know your software so that emails and files you want to keep for later are on line rather than on paper.
The computer screens that you use can also affect the amount of energy that your office is using. Firstly the most efficient screens are flat screens. They do not use as much energy as the CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) large screens. Secondly it should have a mechanism to shut itself off when they are not in use (after 5 minutes). Switch your screen off when you go home and don't leave it on stand-by. If all the screens, televisions and other equipment in the UK where all switched off instead of being left on we could probably save a large part of a power station.
What happens to your waste? Do you have a system in place that separates the various types of waste like most councils are now doing at home? This enables companies that deal with your waste to recycle large parts of your waste. Is your confidential waste dealt with confidentially and environmentally. If you have a confidential waste contractor just check, but most of these do deal with all waste environmentally, recycling the paper and CD's etc. But there is more you can do.......
If you have cardboard boxes, saved them flat for when you need to send something away and remember to say to your employees that you have these and they can use them for their home needs. Card also comes in handy sometimes to stiffen up that envelope you want to send with something important in. Use a piece of card in a standard A5 envelope saves you buying those more expensive CD envelopes.
Offices can also assist by recycling as much of its waste as possible. Try measuring the amount of waste generated for the next month and then put in your measures to see how much you can reduce this. Remember getting the council or private company to pick up your waste costs you money on per ton you generate.
Paper can be recycled twice. Single sided A4 copies for instance can be ripped into four pieces and stapled into pads. These pads can be used instead of post-it notes with some Prit Stick if you require it to stick to something. When it is completely used it can then be kept in a recycling bin that is available from a number of recycling companies. Make sure that the shredding from your company shredders are also re-cycled. Some animal sanctuaries like these but if not there are companies who take it.
If you use water dispenser and plastic cups in drinks machines, get a container to keep used plastic cups in. These can be re-cycled. Don't forget to have re-cycling bins for cans, plastic cups, paper and confidential waste. Ensure these are all re-cycled properly.
Recycle those empty printer and photocopier cartridges. They can all be refilled and re-used rather than thrown away.
Don't throw unwanted furniture out. If it is still useable donate it to a charity shop or a charity that is set up to take such items and re issue them to the less better off.
Also remember the council re-cycling centres. Many of those take furniture and re-sale on or will recycle it as best possible.
Encourage employees to bring their sandwiches in re-usable plastic containers rather than using cling film or other bags that are difficult to re-cycle. It is the same with drinks. It is cheaper to buy large bottles of soft drinks and dispense this into air-tight containers for work than it is to buy plastic bottled water and drinks. Employee's should be encouraged to take home their food waste and recylce it rather than put it into your bins.
Have you tap water tested against bottled water and show the employees the results. It often is a pure as bottled water and its cheaper.
There are some organisations including some councils that encourage employee's to cycle to work or to walk. Sometimes there are grants for the purchase of bicycles. Your employee's need to be made aware of these schemes.
Also they need to know about what public transport is available for them. This is not only useful if they would like to save money on using a car but also when the car breaks-down or a snow fall prevents its use but public transport is still running. Gather information about buses that come past your office so that employee's know the options. Speak with the bus companies about season tickets and discounts than may be available for certain staff.
For those that do need to use a car to get to work look at the possibilities for car sharing. It saves on their costs and reduced the numbers of parking places you need as a business.
Do you really need all those meetings and travel to meetings. Can't you use teleconferences and video meetings? Both of these are now saving companies considerable sums of money as well as getting more work from employee's, who no longer have to travel to meetings.
Many offices and factories are beginning to set up solar panels and wind turbines to help power their buildings. This is a good start but there is a lot more to do and there are other methods that could be explored like using rain water more effectively to flush toilets for example and better glazing of windows to conserve the energy being produced by the wind power! Using rain water more effectively, re-cycling it into the cisterns of toilets and flushing systems saves on water bills and once set up the water is free. It is surprising how much water comes off a roof as those with water butts at home will be able to tell you. Don't waste that water - use it.
One small factory that is set in a hill in Wales uses a fast flowing street that is a tributary of a much larger river to generate electricity by the 'old fashioned' use of a water wheel!! Look at all options.
There are more and more systems being investigated for producing and re-cycling electricity and new ways of providing power without gas or electricity. Keep on top of latest technology and introduce new systems when they become profitable.
Has your company had its use of electricity evaluated by an approved consultant to see what saving can be made? There are companies who do this and often the savings made in the first year pays for their fee.
If you have gardens at your building why not consider the use of water butts to collect rainwater to use of the plants?
Making it work. Each employment site should adopt an energy and environment champion who looks at energy use and associated topics. They can research and lead in the terms of reducing energy consumption while if on multiple sites can keep in touch (conference calls) with each other so they learn from one another. Environment champions are the people who will reduce your bills and keep ahead of technology for you so that you can get on with managing the business. Many businesses have asked employees for volunteers for this role and sent them on courses. The cost of the courses has always been recouped from the ways in which they have reduced costs and overheads.
In one town there is a network on Environmental Champions who not only have learned a lot from each other but have improved their own individual employability.
Tarsier UK is looking at the possibility of an awards scheme for businesses that will collect Tarsier points for all their energy and environmental innovations. More of this when the scheme is running.
Do all your staff need to be in the office all the time? Some companies allow people now to work from home, even some call centre's like NHS Direct have home workers who make outbound calls from their home using a copy of the call centre program on a computer at home. A lot easier for an ordinary office to allow staff to work from home when they need to and especially if they are feeling a bit under the weather and don't want to spread it around. With mobile phones that allow teleconferences and even video conferring these days, it really is an option. Flexible working like this can allow the environment to be saved while having a much happier staff. Don't forget though to ensure their Health and Safety and that they too recycle even when at home.