Small steps, big savings.
“We’ve always done things this way, why change?”
“We’re too small to make a difference, what’s the point?”
“Our staff do it at home but they just aren’t interested in turning off lights and recycling when they come to work.”
“It’ll cost too much.”
Sound familiar? I hear a lot of comments like those from businesses I talk to about implementing environmental initiatives. There’s been a big movement towards resource efficiency at work in recent years as a direct result of soaring energy bills, supply chain pressure, reduced space in landfills, etc. However, there’s still a perception that tackling environmental issues at work is too difficult and too expensive to do. Is it though? Hopefully by the time you finish reading this you’ll realise that there are probably lots of little things you could go and do straight away, at little or no cost.
Many businesses presume that only large companies can make significant savings but in reality it doesn’t matter what size your business is - you can always make big savings by becoming more environmentally friendly. So let’s have a look at some easy things you can do to start greening your workplace:
1. Nominate a champion – having someone to take ownership of any environmental savings projects you implement will help to ensure they become a priority.
2. Look at your lighting – the Carbon Trust estimates lighting can account for around 40% of a building’s electricity use so whatever you can do to reduce energy use from lighting can make big savings. Easy no-cost options include switching off lights in areas not in use and labeling light switches. Low-cost options include swapping lighting for more energy efficient versions and installing occupancy / daylight sensors.
3. Go easy with the paper – most offices (including my own...) use far more paper than necessary so look at how you can reduce the need to print (e.g. sharing documents electronically) or reducing how much you need to print (e.g. double-sided printing policy). Reducing printing will save not only paper, but ink and energy costs as well.
4. Reduce your water use – did you know a single dripping tap can waste about 10,000 litres of water, or ~£28, per year? So make sure you have a maintenance plan in place and also look at low cost options such as cistern dams, tap aerators and urinal sensors. Dual-flush WCs are also a great idea and let’s not forget brew rounds; only fill kettle with as much water as required.
5. Turn that temperature down – hmm, what temperature is your office set at? It should be perfectly comfortable at around 21°C. If it’s higher, how about turning it down a little and making sure it only comes on at appropriate times? Remember, for every 1°C reduction in temperature, a business can save around 10% of their heating bill (Carbon Trust).
6. Turn it off – switching off equipment when it’s not in use, or using timers to set operational hours can make a massive difference in energy usage and costs. Look at printers, photocopiers, computers, vending machines, etc.
7. Reduce, reuse, recycle – think about what wastes you create and whether you could reduce the amount you waste? If you can’t then you should be thinking about what is suitable for reuse and at the very least you should be trying to recycle as much as possible.
8. Insulate – consider not just insulation for internal pipework but the building fabric as well - walls, windows and roof.
9. Staff awareness – changing staff behaviour is one of the most important things you can do. If you can get staff on board then you’re much more likely to be successful in greening your workplace. So consider providing training and holding awareness campaigns to educate them and encourage involvement.
So there we have it - 9 easy steps you can take to start greening your workplace. Not so hard right? And let’s remind ourselves of the benefits - not only will you reduce your environmental impact and improve your environmental credentials but you’ll hopefully save loads of dosh at the same time. Now, what’s not to like about that?
We’d love to hear your experiences of greening your workplace and / or any tips of your own you’d like to share. Please leave your comments in the box below.