By Bond Collective Staff
Looking for ways to save money and help the environment? Create a sustainable office.
But what exactly are sustainable offices? What impact does one have on your business and the planet as a whole? And what steps can you take to transform your work space into an eco-friendly environment?
In this article, we answer those questions and give you 12 ways to create the best sustainable office and work space.
What Is A Sustainable Office?
A formal definition for “sustainable office” is remarkably difficult to come by. Search results tend to cluster around building practices — like large windows, greywater treatment, and roof-top green spaces — that are better for the environment.
But sustainable offices don’t have to be brand-new builds. In fact, some of the best sustainable offices are in decades-old buildings. It’s not the construction materials that count; what goes on inside the walls is what really matters.
So, what constitutes a sustainable office? A work space that promotes ecological and environmental balance by reducing — or avoiding entirely — the depletion of natural resources.
Before we talk about the specific steps you can take to transform your office, let’s talk about why sustainability is vital for the success of your business.
The Impact Of Sustainable Offices
Even small changes can have a significant impact on both the environment and your bottom line.
For example, one big-box store programmed its cooling system to turn on at 75 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 74 degrees. As a result, the store used 30,000 fewer kilowatt-hours and saved over $3,000 annually. All of that from a one-degree change in office temperature.
And that’s just a single example. Imagine the environmental and fiscal impact you can enjoy by making multiple changes to the way your office operates.
For a business that is already working hard to maximize savings (and may be running out of options), creating a sustainable office is an easy and effective way to reduce expenses even further while helping to save the environment.
The Best Ways To Create A Sustainable Office
1) Form A Sustainable Office Team
Instead of doing all the work yourself, form a sustainable office team to brainstorm changes, implement new ways to go green, and encourage their teammates to abide by the new rules.
2) Incorporate Green Challenges
Green challenges are a fun way to encourage your team to adhere to your sustainable office policies.
For example, challenge everyone to go a month without using disposable utensils and offer free coffee or snacks as a reward.
3) Instate An “Everything Off At Night” Rule
There’s no reason to leave lights, computers, printers, and other electronic devices on when no one is there to use them.
Make it a policy that everyone has to turn off their equipment when they leave for the night. And the last person out needs to make sure they power down all of the communal tech (printers, copiers, etc.) so that everything is off at night.
4) Recycle Everything
Set up recycling bins for everything from aluminum cans to plastic bottles to paper products. To avoid confusion, post signs that detail exactly what belongs in each bin.
5) Set Up A Composting Station
In addition to recycling solid waste, set up a composting station to recycle food scraps. Donate the leftovers to a local farm or community garden who will turn it into planting material and fertilizer.
6) Use Reusable Dishes And Utensils
Yes, disposable dishes and utensils are easier. But using reusable foodware keeps paper plates, plastic forks, and straws out of the local landfill.
Be sure to establish clear expectations about dishwashing so your kitchen doesn’t become a dirty mess.
7) Choose Green Cleaning Products
The chemicals in cleaning products can harm the environment just as much as the solid waste you generate in your kitchen. And don’t forget the thousands of paper towels you go through tidying counters and tables.
Choose biodegradable, nontoxic, and petroleum-free cleaners along with washable microfiber cloths for a truly sustainable (and clean) office environment.
8) Opt For Reusable Cups And Mugs
Just like the paper plates and plastic utensils, styrofoam and cardboard cups significantly impact the environment. Stock your break room with reusable cups and mugs, and encourage your team to bring in their own.
9) Turn Off The Lights When No One’s In The Room
Lights aren’t necessary when no one’s in the room. Post signs by light switches to remind your team members to turn off the lights when they leave.
Alternatively, you can install motion-detector switches that will turn off the lights when there is no movement for five minutes.
Main Work Space
10) Print Double-Sided Copies
Printing double-sided copies of documents cuts your paper bill in half and prevents reams of paper from sitting in landfills.
Program your printers so that the default setting is double-sided, but show your team members how to switch to single-sided in case they need it.
11) Reuse Failed Print Jobs As Scrap Paper
Don’t throw your paper away. Use it as scrap paper instead. Place a bin next to the printer where your team members can discard failed print jobs (single-sided jobs especially).
Encourage them to reuse that paper for notes or brainstorming. Consider cutting a stack of scraps into 5.5 x 4.25-inch rectangles. These make great scratch pads.
12) Replace Incandescent Bulbs With Compact Fluorescent Or LED Bulbs
Compact fluorescent and LED bulbs last longer than incandescent bulbs and use less energy.
As your old incandescent bulbs burn out, replace them with one of the other options for a sustainable office that is less expensive to light.
Two of the many nice things about creating a sustainable office are:
You can start small and increase from there
Changes don’t have to be expensive
In regard to starting small, you don’t have to implement all of the suggestions on this list at once to have a very real and beneficial effect on the environment and your bottom line.
Instead, choose one practice and see how it goes. After a few weeks or a month, add another practice. Soon, your work space will incorporate all of the suggestions on this list and you’ll have created a truly sustainable office.
Before you rush out and spend a big part of your hard-earned capital on eco-friendly solutions, remember that changes don’t have to be expensive or even cost anything at all.
Simply encouraging team members to turn off the lights when they leave a room conserves electricity and saves money. You don’t have to spend a dime.
When you look for ways to create a sustainable office without changing the way your team operates and without exhausting your resources, you truly help both your business and the environment.
Save Money And The Environment In A Coworking Space
You can save money and the environment in a coworking space like Bond Collective. At Bond Collective, startups, entrepreneurs, freelancers, small businesses, and even large corporations work together in the same space.
In the process, they share costs, save money over a conventional lease, and reduce the environmental impact they would have if they all maintained their own office space.
The flexible office environments at Bond Collective give you everything you need — technology, infrastructure, furniture, amenities — to get the job done right and allow you to focus on your work rather than the day-to-day operations.
Your team can work from a hot desk (a first-come, first-served area), a dedicated desk, a private office, or a suite of offices and save money in the process.
Membership at a coworking space like Bond Collective is a fraction of what you would pay to maintain your own office. Plus, you can change your membership from one month to the next.
Work from a dedicated desk in December, switch to a private office in January, and go back to a dedicated desk in February. This allows you to expand and contract your work space footprint as your needs dictate.
All of those factors — and many more — make the coworking spaces at Bond Collective the sustainable offices of the future.
Visit any one of Bond Collective’s many locations in the United States, including workspaces in New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Illinois, Tennessee, and Texas. Or call us today to find out more about everything we have to offer.
And while you’re at it, schedule a tour to experience first-hand how the boutique work environments at Bond Collective can benefit your business.