green office
Green office
To many business owners, being environmentally responsible is as important as making money. After all, what good is it to be successful if you have destroyed the environment in the process of doing so. A single business owner is unlikely to have a measurable impact on the environment, but the combination of actions by thousands of businesses can make a big difference in the long run.

While many business owners would like to be environmentally friendly, they are unsure of what steps they can take, or more importantly what these steps might cost. Here are 8 tips to running an environmentally friendly office that will not break the bank.

1. Eliminate Unnecessary Printing

Every office has the need to print out reports and information. However, a majority of this printing is simply not needed. It is not necessary to print out every revision of a report, when a copy can be emailed around the office. Additionally, in meetings consider an investment in a nice digital projector, or even Apple i-Pads to share documents with the team without the need for printing. When printing is absolutely necessary, consider printing on both sides of the paper when practical.

2. Designate and Coordinate Errands and Tasks

It is very common in busy offices for a whole host of errands to need to be done each day. Picking up the mail, taking packages to shippers, or even picking up lunch can waste a lot of resources. Consider coordinating all of them at one time so that a single person can leave the office and accomplish them all. This will not only save on gasoline and emissions, but make the office run more efficiently.

3. Bring Real Plants into the Office

This is often overlooked by many businesses except in public areas where they are used for decorative purposes. Consider adding a multitude of real plants throughout the office. The real thing not only adds beauty, but additional oxygen. Take those fakes and donate them to charity or allow employees to take them home. Most employees will be happy for the added greenery and enjoy taking care of the plants by watering every few days.

4. Consider Using “Smart Strips” for Powering Devices

Many people are unaware of how much power is wasted by electronic devices that are plugged into power strips even when they are turned off. There is a leakage of power that occurs even when a computer or a monitor is not in use and is turned off, but it is still plugged into a power strip. Consider investing in the next generation of power strips that eliminate “vampire” power loss. Not only will this reduce your electricity use (and bills!), but they save the environment at the same time.

5. Reprogram the Thermostat

Consider making it a degree or two warmer in the summer months and a degree or two colder in the winter months. Most of the time no one will even notice. Each degree warmer or colder can save 6 to 8 percent annually in energy costs.

6. Encourage Employees to Eat Locally Grown Produce

Most businesses are within 50 miles of a food producer, such as a farm. Stock the lunchroom with locally grown and harvested fruits and vegetables. Not only will employees appreciate this gesture, it is likely to migrate home with them when it comes time to shop for groceries. This reduces the environmental impact and costs of the food, because the food consumed is close to the end user.

7. Replace Desktops with Laptops

Many businesses may not realize that the traditional desktop computer uses as much as 70 percent more electricity than a laptop. The majority of tasks around the office can easily be migrated to laptop use, leaving the computationally intensive tasks for higher powered traditional computers. An additional benefit to making the switch to laptops is the portability into meetings which saves on printing and paper costs.

8. Encourage Telecommuting

While it is unlikely that all of a businesses employees can telecommute, it is easy to pick a few days a month that each employee should telecommute from home. If you have put tip number 7 into action, it is easy for the employees to have all of their work with them and simply work a few days a month from home. This saves on emissions from commuting, and generally boosts employee productivity.

Most of these tips can be put into place without much cost. Replacing desktops with laptops may be a bit pricey in the beginning, but the savings in the long run from dramatically lower power bills and employee efficiency usually make it a great choice. Remember, even small things such as encouraging employees to use coffee cups brought from home rather than foam cups can make a big impact on the environment in the long run.

John works at OfficeKitten.co.uk, a leading supplier to businesses, where he writes reviews of office stationery supplies and furniture.