In business we are constantly being urged to address this issue of climate change by becoming more energy efficient and minimising waste. Increasingly driven by legislation, compliance more importantly makes good business sense, with energy supply costs continuing to rise and more and more clients focused on the green credentials of their suppliers.
For all the “greentalk” it is important for businesses to be realistic and to decide what is feasible. The emphasis needs to be first and foremost on what is economically possible, both now and in the future, for the size of the company. So let’s look at some of the sustainable initiatives that can save you money, support your community it serves and have a positive influence on the environment.
A Few Simple Measures
For any company, engaging employees is the crucial first step and some employers set-up a green team to meet regularly and keep track of green goals and targets. There are a few simple measures which can be implemented immediately for a greener office. Some are obvious, like switching off computers every evening and turning out lights when rooms are unoccupied. More sophisticated measures are available, such as PIR (passive infrared sensor) lighting which detects motion and then activates a switch to turn lights on and off, advanced air conditioning systems with heat recovery capabilities and energy monitoring solutions; but these may only be practical for larger enterprises.
LED (light emitting diodes) lighting is one technology that can be implemented by any size company. Although initially more expensive than traditional light bulbs, LEDs can use up to 90% less energy and can pay for themselves in a few months through energy savings according to Which. They last longer and contain no hazardous substances, so less waste to landfill. Efficient lighting solutions such as LEDs and PIRs mean less heat is generated and less air conditioning is needed which also reduces a company’s cost and carbon footprint.
Choosing the Right Products
Another way that companies can reduce their environmental impact is by choosing new products wisely. With BREEAM and LEED standards for buildings, companies have a responsibility to choose building materials, flooring and furniture which meet strict “green” guidelines. These products are either manufactured from sustainable sources or are easily recycled or both and are increasingly more cost effective for SME’s.
Many flooring companies, such as Desso lead the way in sustainability and have re-entry systems to recycle their old carpet tiles and greatly reduce landfill. Many new carpet tiles are made from biodegradable materials. Major international flooring company Interface use fishing nets from around the globe in their Net Effects carpet range. This supports local communities, re-uses materials and prevents any discarded nets from damaging the fragile marine ecosystem.
Helping the Community
Of course, recycling extends beyond production and process waste to office equipment and furniture which frequently ends up as landfill when companies relocate or reconfigure their business operations.
About 5 years ago, as part of our CSR commitment, CBS recognised an opportunity to assist charitable organisations in the resourcing of facilities and to recycle furniture surplus to requirements.
With the help of Connect Reading we have been able to establish partnerships with our clients to place surplus items such as office desking, seating and storage cabinets with charities in need of equipment, giving the furniture a new lease of life.
With more and more charities struggling for funding, it is more important than ever for business to do what they can to help local causes.
Donating unwanted office furniture is a relatively simple, low cost option and also helps meet regional waste reduction targets. Engaging with the community in this way has positive business benefits, raising your profile and widening your network of business connections.
Think globally, act locally
So as we see, having a green office not only affects your immediate environment, but can have a positive impact on the local community and even far beyond our shores. Remember the ancient Indian proverb “We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children” and ensure your business takes its environmental responsibilities seriously.