Going Green Within the Office
RECYCLING is now a way of life for many of us – in the home at least. It seems that the green message is finally filtering through as the Government encourages us to become more aware of, and take greater personal responsibility for, behaviours and actions which can have a negative impact on the environment.
However, when it conies to the workplace, more could be done to encourage sustainable working practices. With a quarter of UK workers clocking up more than 48 hours per week, more than any other wealthy nation* many of us spend more time in the office than we do at home.
Jim Venables is managing director of officebroker.com, the UK’s largest online broker of commercial office space which works with more than 97 per cent of the UK’s serviced office space providers and landlords.
He says: “When it comes to going green in the office, there are plenty of small, straightforward ideas that all of us can adopt to improve our working environments. And we have found that businesses whose employees have embraced environmentally friendly working practices have enjoyed considerable benefits including reduced costs and a closer, communicative workforce.”
officebroker.com was founded by entrepreneurs Jim Venables and Andy Haywood five years ago has grown into a multi-million pound enterprise with offices in the UK and US, and plans to launch a division in Hong Kong later this year.
The company offers the following simple tips to anyone keen to make then- office a ‘greener’ space:
- Turn all computer equipment, machinery or other mechanical appliances off when not in use.
- Recycle, reduce and re-use waste. For example, print or photocopy on both sides of paper, recycle envelopes and labels and turn scrap paper into notepads.
- Switch off any unnecessary lighting during the day, particularly near windows or in
corridors which do not require bright lighting. Did you know that 80% of the UK’s lighting
energy is used at work?
- Position desks and workstations to make best use of natural light.
- Ask the last person to leave the office to ensure that they turn everything off including printers, drinks machines, fans, computers and lights – perhaps have a checklist drawn up and posted by the door or alarm control panel.
- Use the stairs instead of the lift – it’s a great way to get fit too!
- Consider turning the heating down and wearing warmer clothes in winter. Liaise with health and safety staff to tackle over heating caused by poorly maintained equipment or ventilation. Make sure radiators and heaters aren’t obstructed and ask your employer to improve insulation.
- Ask colleagues if they would be interested in organising a green travel plan. This could include walking in groups, cycling, car sharing etc
- Consider using re-useable items rather than disposable such as china cups and metal cutlery, for example.
- Collect stamps and milk bottle tops for charity
- Use email or notice boards to share information instead of printed memos.
- Ask your employer to buy products with a longer life, such as low energy light bulbs or solar powered calculators and also products which have a recycled or reconditioned content. For furniture, for example, this might mean sourcing timber products from certified, sustainable sources.
- Encourage you employer to choose local products and materials to reduce energy use and pollution.
Among the many office space providers that officebroker.com works with is Innovate office which has recently launched the UK’s ‘greenest’ office at Thorpe Park in Leeds. The office, which opened in June, boasts the highest BREEAM rating of any office in the country, and was developed to showcase the commercial viability of sustainable developments and boost awareness of the growing importance of ‘green’ office space to the commercial sector.
Mark Proctor, sales and marketing director of Innovate office says: “We see our new Leeds office as a benchmark for the sector and would actively encourage other office space providers to work within their own resources to ensure that their buildings are as sustainable as possible. A large number of businesses are now being asked to provide evidence of their own ‘green’ credentials when tendering for new business and while being able to state that you work out of the country’s ‘greenest’ building is a fantastic way to demonstrate this, there are plenty of other ways in which businesses and their employees can easily adopt more sustainable working practices.”