13 ways to reduce your office carbon footprint
When looking at the environmental impact of a company, a part of it comes from business operations such as manufacturing, transportation, and even business travel. However, an important part of greenhouse gas emissions often also comes from an organization’s workplace.
With the joint effort and action of a company’s employees and managers, as well as constant education, fighting climate change through a more carbon-neutral office is possible. The environment will be positively impacted by it, and your customers and employees certainly will appreciate it. That said, let’s take a look at what steps can be taken to promote sustainability within the office space itself.
1. Choose green appliances
Whether it’s buying new office equipment or replacing it, always look for the most efficient options based on their energy star rating. Choosing energy-saving appliances is a simple, yet very effective move you can take to drastically reduce your company’s carbon footprint. Not only will you be saving the environment a harmful amount of emissions, but you’ll be seeing the effects of this choice on your energy consumption bills, too!
2. Choose efficient office lighting
Another relatively simple yet radically effective way you can make your office greener is by changing to lighting that requires less energy. Apart from choosing LED light bulbs, maximizing natural light is always a great idea, as well as installing motion sensors that will switch lights off when not being used, and dimmable lights that can be adjusted to different situations and lighting needs.
3. Optimize heating and air conditioning
Complaints about office temperature are very common among employees. Careful analysis of the ideal thermostat for your building is key to having a more energy-efficient heating and cooling system, lowering your companies’ energy bill, and ensuring thermal comfort for your employees.
4. Reduce food waste
An estimated one-third of all food produced is lost or wasted, according to a study by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization. How does that have an impact on carbon emissions? Because wasting food also means wasting all the energy and resources used to grow it, produce it, package it, and transport it. On top of that, when food rots it produces methane, another greenhouse gas.
Especially if your company has a cafeteria, the amount of food that goes to waste can be huge. Making sure that as little food as possible goes to waste should be a top priority, but even if it does, the best your company can do is take part in programs that ensure food donation, composting, and turning food into animal feed or other products.
5. Promote a paperless culture
Nowadays, in most companies, very few documents actually need to be printed. When everything is kept online, on emails, and in the cloud, why are we still printing like it’s 1999? Adopting a paperless policy and making sure employees are well aware of it will definitely have a positive impact on reducing your company’s CO2 emissions.
A study by Multibriefs has even shown that companies that choose to go paperless can save an average of $80 per employee. And it’s not just about costs! Being paperless means better organization, more collaboration between employees, increased efficiency, and more security.
6. Promote waste recycling
Encourage employees to recycle by leaving no excuse not to sort their trash correctly. Make sure that enough recycling bins are in place, that instructions on how to sort waste are clear, and that your employees are aware of the importance your company places on recycling.
7. Avoid single-use coffee cups, glasses, silverware, and plates
Did you know that an estimated 15 billion paper coffee cups are thrown away every year in the US only? Offering free coffee to your employees is one of the most appreciated perks according to Keurig Green Mountain’s “Coffee Break Survey”, but it comes with carbon dioxide emissions. The solution is quite simple: replace single-use coffee cups by reusable mugs! The same goes for glasses, silverware, and plates. Definitely not a big investment for your company, but a very positive one for the environment.
8. Promote greener commutes
Employees commuting to the office adds up to your business' carbon emissions—and, actually, it adds up a lot. From encouraging biking and carpooling to offering incentives that reduce the costs of public transportation, buying or using electric vehicles, there are so many ways your company can promote a greener commute.
9. Use rechargeable batteries
Small appliances, remote controls, calculators, radios, fire alarms… They all need batteries in order to work. However, the type of batteries used does have an impact on the environment. Why stick to single-use batteries, when you can use rechargeable ones that allow you to reuse them hundreds of times?
10. Rethink the way you drink coffee
Your employees’ favorite drink doesn’t have to mean tons of unnecessary waste, as well as intensive, environmentally unfriendly production methods. Some great initiatives when it comes to making your office’s coffee consumption more sustainable range from choosing FairTrade coffee to banning non-recyclable coffee capsules or even composting coffee grounds.
11. Use energy-efficient building options
When considering the big amounts of energy used for lighting, heating, and cooling an office, it’s clear that everything should be optimized to ensure energy efficiency. Review and assess what can be improved within your office when it comes to isolation and use of natural and artificial light, as well as energy usage and fossil fuels vs renewable energy. There’s no excuse for energy waste if there’s a way to avoid it!
12. Provide organic and FairTrade food and drinks
If your organization provides food and drinks, make sure they’re organic and FairTrade certified whenever possible. This ensures that they were produced in the most sustainable way possible, both in terms of growing the food as well as providing fair employment to local producers in developing countries. On the other end, employees will definitely appreciate this gesture too, and you’ll be supporting their well-being.
13. Replace water bottles with a tap filter
Last on our list, let’s look at a big source of plastic waste and emissions: water bottles. Water is essential, but not plastic bottles. Swapping bottled water for filtered water has lots of benefits: from reducing plastic waste to saving costs and ensuring an unlimited supply of water. Tap water filters are easy to install and cost much less than buying bottled water.
By now, hopefully, you’re more aware of all the possibilities at hand when it comes to reducing your office's carbon emissions and making its energy use more efficient. Remember: no matter how small your actions may seem, they can have a profound effect on our planet. At the end of the day, whether you're a small business or a big company, it is possible to make a big impact by making little impact!