Sustainability in the Workplace: How to Go Green

02 Feb 2018

Category: Eco

How to Improve Your Office Sustainability

Going green is no longer just a “trend”. It’s a conscious decision that businesses are making to protect the future of the planet and the environment. Not only does transitioning into a sustainable office help the world around you, it can also contribute to a more motivated, healthy and happy workforce. Improve your environmental credentials in the workplace. Go green, have happier staff, and save yourself money. There’s nothing to lose. Plus, mother nature and your employees will thank you if you do.

Office Sustainability

Sustainability has been a buzzword in office design for a few years now. Companies that have ignored the rising trend of environmental and social awareness risk low productivity and unhappy staff. Healthy, happy and green workplace environments are gradually becoming more common, as they replace the dull, grey office spaces of the 90’s. The key component to designing a healthy space supposedly comes down to designing not just space, but a space specifically created for the people in it. If you’re looking at building or altering an office space, it should be designed around how people use it. If your workforce is spending 90% of their lives in their office building, they’re going to expect a little more than a desk and a cube.

sustainable office

Simple design considerations such as lighting and ventilation can help boost worker efficiency. As an employer or business owner, it is your responsibility to keep your workforce happy, and motivated. Effective office design won’t solve all your problems, but a sustainable workplace is a good start. The World Green Business Council released studies that show improved ventilation will boost the productivity of workers by 11%.  Better lighting will spark a whopping 23% jump in efficiency. These figures prove that people react well to simple aspects of sustainable design. Imagine the possibilities of a fully motivated workforce when you introduce effective waste disposal, lighting, hydration and green spaces.

How Can a Sustainable Workplace Benefit You?

Sustainable or green buildings are not only proven to increase productivity but also help cut running costs. These high-performance buildings help cut energy bills and although may initially have a cost to redesign, yield faster returns on investment than is commonly expected. In terms of resources, sustainable builds can deliver high performance at minimal cost. In terms of human work ethic, they can help levels of productivity. Natural lighting, clean air, green spaces, and an adjustable temperature can all help motivate employees. Working in a space where they can directly influence their working environment is beneficial to all. Rather than feeling trapped or bored in a cubicle, they are inspired by a well lit, comfortable, open-plan room.

Aside from the obvious aspects of design that can contribute to a sustainable workplace, there are a few other things you can do to “go green“.

workplace sustainability

Waste

Reducing waste and encouraging recycling is a great first step to going green. This requires no office redesign, and instead just requires your staff to be educated. Encourage recycling of all paper that isn’t used, rather than throwing it away in normal waste bins. Another good way to reduce paper usage is to ensure your staff know how to double-side print and photocopy. This literally halves the amount of paper used, as work is printed on each side of the page, rather than only one. They may seem like small changes, but you’ll see your paper usage and paper waste shrink quickly!

For every 10 members of staff you have, there should be at least one recycling bin. Also, make sure to station recycling bins by every printer or photocopier to encourage staff to dispose of their paper waste correctly. Print and laminate signs for around the office reiterating your new recycling policies to staff.

Electricity

A small, yet effective switch to make is to ensure all your light bulbs are energy saving. Other initiatives to encourage are ensuring all lights and plugs are switched off when not in use. This is especially important for computers and printers that are left on “standby” over the weekends or holidays.

Computers use a lot of electricity, so why not educate your workforce on how to reduce their energy consumption? Dim computer screens rather than having them on full brightness, and close applications or windows that are not in use. One for the IT department – disable computer screensavers. All of these things use unnecessary power.

The office kitchen is somewhere that could be using high amounts of electricity, especially for bigger workforces. If you have a water system, you could be saving electricity and money by switching to Billi. Keeping water chilled for water and heating water in kettles throughout the day can be expensive. Why not use this Billi Green Calculator to see how much you could be saving. Our designs are all environmentally conscious and eco-lead. Using heat exchange technology we turn excess and waste heat energy from cooling our “chilled” tap water into boiling water in the same system.

energy saving computer

Products/Services

Employees expect their employers to have environmental and social policies with similar values to their own views. If they use fair trade, organic or local products and home, it’s likely they would like to see that done at work too. When purchasing products or services for the workplace, consider the journey it has travelled to reach you and it’s carbon footprint. The item or service may be cheaper from farther away, however, look at the whole life of the product rather than the individual cost to you.

Products like bottled water are cheap at purchase but have a high long-term cost. By installing a Billi tap, your employees are provided with instant chilled, boiling or sparkling water. The initial purchase cost may be higher than that of bottled water, but in the long term, you will be saving yourself money. Not only are you reducing your plastic waste, and carbon footprint, you’re also saving yourself money on energy bills and reducing wait times for the kettle to boil, or water to cool. All of these things will be appealing to your workforce if they are eco-aware.

The Key to Sustainable Design

The key to sustainable design considers results or benefits rather than products. Even small changes in productivity and health translate into large financial benefits. “A properly designed workplace requires less building infrastructure, which takes up less space, produces less heat, and consumes less power than traditional workspaces – while supporting employees more effectively”.

For more advice on how to transition into a more sustainable workplace, contact us today. We can help lower your energy outgoings and improve the sustainability and eco-friendly nature of your building.