Everyone involved in office space — owners and property managers as well as tenant office managers and employees — has a shared responsibility for reducing the environmental impact of our business activities. In commemoration of Earth Day’s 40th anniversary, here are 40 ways to make the office a greener place to work.
1. Include reasonable sustainability provisions in standard lease agreements, and try to accommodate tenants with their own green criteria.
2. Require your management staff to follow sustainable procedures as much as possible, and to report on what they are doing.
3. Ask your property manager and other service providers what steps their organization is taking to be sustainable, including what they ask their own vendors, to ensure the sustainability of your supply chain.
4. Keep current on public policy mandates regarding green buildings, including tax credits and other incentives as well as building codes and other requirements.
5. Be knowledgeable of costs and financing alternatives relating to energy and sustainability improvements, and weigh these factors against potential financial benefits.
6. Conduct a complete commissioning of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems once every three years to ensure they operate as they were designed to do.
7. Install bike racks to encourage emission-free commuting.
8. Institute a building-wide recycling program, and if possible, establish an area for sorting recyclables before they leave the building.
9. Budget for tenant sub-metering, subject to applicable laws and lease agreements.
10. Invest in roofing materials that reduce heat absorption by using highly reflective materials or vegetation.
1. Replace traditional base building light bulbs with high efficiency/low mercury lighting.
2. Install carbon dioxide detectors to ensure enough fresh air is circulating.
3. Don’t over-ventilate: It’s important to have enough fresh air, but outside air must be heated or cooled to inside temperatures, increasing energy use.
4. Follow a consistent schedule of checking and replacing filters.
5. Sub-meter equipment for better data on where energy is being used, so that when there is an unexpected rise in energy, the problem can be isolated more easily.
6. Use cleaning supplies and restroom paper products that meet EPA’s Environmentally Preferred Purchasing guidelines or are certified by organizations such as Green Seal
7. Ensure that parking-lot lights are shielded to focus light on the ground instead into the sky or neighboring properties, avoiding light pollution.
8. Follow integrated pest management principles that pose the least risk to people and the environment at the most economical cost.
9. Utilize high-efficiency irrigation technologies.
10. Work with municipalities to permit motion-sensitive lighting in emergency stairwells.
1. Set office copier defaults to print on both sides of paper to reduce paper waste.
2. Post recycling receptacles in central locations as well as at individual desks.
3. Use motion detectors to control lighting in storage and other rooms that are used infrequently.
4. Install task lighting at employee workstations so that late workers do not need full lighting throughout the department.
5. Consider recycled and recyclable materials when renovating space or replacing furniture.
6. Require interior build-out contractors to follow sustainable practices, particularly in ensuring the air quality of adjoining areas where employees are working.
7. Use low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paint and formaldehyde-free furniture and carpet in offices to ensure that air quality is not compromised.
8. Investigate the installation of software that automatically turns off copiers and printers at a certain time, and make sure standby modes are set correctly.
9. Consider programs that allow employees to work from home part of the time, reducing carbon emissions from commuting and potentially limiting space needed per employee, thus reducing the amount of space to heat and cool.
10. Design space to maximize penetration of natural light into your space.
1. Bring lunch from home to reduce cafeteria and restaurant waste.
2. Print documents only when necessary, and use double-sided printing when possible.
3. Learn which plastic lunch items are and are not recyclable, and wash food particles from recyclable containers before depositing
4. Use a coffee mug and reusable water bottle instead of paper cups and disposable plastic bottles.
5. Turn off your computer at night and unplug the adaptor—even an idle adaptor draws energy.
6. Bring your laptop to meetings to avoid printing out presentation materials.
7. When working late, use task lighting at your desk instead of lighting an entire floor.
8. Take mass transit or carpool to work if possible; or better yet, walk or ride a bicycle if you live close enough to the office.
9. Place plants in your office space to help absorb indoor pollution.
10. Turn out conference room lights when meetings are over.
If each person does his or her part, these practices will greatly reduce costs for everyone and ensure a healthier, happier workplace as well as helping the environment. Have a happy fortieth birthday, Earth Day!
Robert Best, executive vice president of energy and sustainability services at Jones Lang LaSalle, contributed to this report.