Making an eco-friendly office space is good for your staff, and the environment. Here’s some tips on making your green efforts as effective as can be.
By Making Moves LondonAugust 21, 2023
As sustainability, green spaces and green technologies are commonplace, it’s more important than ever to consider the eco-credentials of an office space.
Office spaces represent a significant amount of a company’s carbon footprint, so it’s always worth considering, and continually reviewing how your company can help save the planet. Having a green office can also improve the working environment for your employees and coworkers.
Here at Making Moves, we strongly believe that a change in your office space can really help to transform both productivity and wellbeing. Plus, we all need to be more eco-conscious in our day-to-day life! With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of sixteen green office ideas to give you some design inspiration.
This might seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised at how many appliances are left running or aren’t as efficient as they could be. The first step in your green office transformation should be to identify any power-saving opportunities in your workplace.
Do people tend to leave their monitors on standby? Are your outdated printers and photocopiers using way more energy than they need to be? Are the lights in your breakout space or meeting room left on even when there’s no one in there? If you start asking these kinds of questions, you can pinpoint what needs to change.
Modern smart meters now make it much easier to monitor energy across usage, and can be pin-pointed down to certain floors, rooms, or appliances. Identify the power-hungry appliances, and upgrade to more energy efficient models where possible. And remember, if you do decide to upgrade your office equipment, make sure to donate or recycle the old units – reduce, reuse, recycle.
A large energy cost for any office space is heating and cooling – see a point about green energy below.
LED light bulbs use significantly less energy than standard light bulbs so you should take the time to replace any outdated bulbs in your office space. Inefficient incandescent lights are becoming harder to source and install, and the cost and energy savings that come from switching from these is significant — up to 75%.
When it comes to lighting, you should also think about the natural light available to you. If you use light paint colours and position desks with access to natural light, you will need less overhead lighting in your office, which is almost always a preferred option.
Of course there are times of the year and situations where interior lighting is a must, so consider greener automatic lighting options like those which feature motion-sensing and turn off after a period of inactivity.
Another simple but important green office idea is changing your supplies to those that are environmentally-friendly, such as recycled paper and printer ink cartridges. These might be a little pricier than your previous supplies, but this is a great way to make sure your company is incorporating sustainable practices.
Consider all supplies – does branded company workwear use sustainable materials? Do client gifts come from ethical businesses, and are they likely to end up in landfill? The lesser thought of items can all add up to make a difference to your overall green credentials.
Finally, single use plastics have become a definite no-no, so review cutlery usage, and consider switching items like paper cups for easily reusable items like mugs and glasses.
There is far less of a need for paper records now that everything can be stored digitally. Although you may need to print the occasional thing, you should try and make sure your procedural processes (such as billing and invoicing) are all paperless. Modern software makes this easier than ever, so if you’re stuck with a legacy piece of software, consider upgrading.
In meetings and proposals, you can send around digital copies of your slides or notes so that everyone can access them on their laptop, rather than having a wad of paper that they could end up losing anyway.
For those occasions when printing is a necessity – ensure it is done double-sided, using recycled paper, and minimising wastage. This can sometimes be as simple as not printing email signatures in those long email chains, or not printing entire documents where only single pages are needed.
By promoting a ‘digital first’ mentality, the paper footprint of a business can be reduced significantly.
There’s so much information out there about the health benefits of plants, and this is one green idea that you definitely need to include in your office. Plants help to purify the air and there is evidence that plants can benefit employee wellbeing and boost productivity.
In terms of how you want to include plants in the office, you can get really creative with this. Living green walls are growing in popularity as a way to break up the office space and add greenery. We generally recommend finding plants that are easy to look after, such as succulents, as these will require little of your time.
If you’re sourcing a significant number of plants, consider using a local nursery instead of a large online retailer, thereby reducing your carbon footprint even further.
Green policies and working processes mean that all employees are ‘doing their bit’ to help make a business eco-friendly. Gather your team together and ask for their contribution, but some simple green ideas:
By being public and transparent about a business’ green efforts the team is more likely to succeed and take pride in them. Set a target for a CO2 reduction over the next twelve months and encourage all to contribute. Make progress visible, and champion those who input the most. By being accountable, perhaps on your company website, or in company collateral, everyone is more likely to pitch in and be part of shared accountability.
Don’t just internalise your goals. Share them with clients, peers and similar businesses. By demonstrating accountability, you’re more likely to succeed, particularly if there’s an element of competition involved…
EV usage is booming, and commuting accounts for a significant proportion of CO2 emissions.
Encouraging green commuting through schemes like cycle-to-work, or salary sacrifice towards EV vehicle purchases can make a significant impact on a company’s overall eco-friendly credentials. If staff are keen on green modes of travel, install EV charging points to show your appreciation, and ensure cyclists are well catered for in terms of cycle storage, access, cleaning and safety.
Public transport, particularly in London will always trump personal commuting in a car, so for those who travel by Underground or bus, consider salary sacrifice schemes and incentives here, too.
Even better — walking to work! By locating an office centrally and minimising the commute, staff will save both time, energy and CO2 emissions.
With sustainability and green office spaces being such a hot topic, an array of technologies exist to make this as straightforward as possible for business.
Whether it’s using power modes like Apple’s Energy Saver on devices, or scheduling office hours slightly outside of peak energy usage times, total energy consumption can be reduced with minimal sustained effort.
Lowering monitor brightness, using energy saving modes on appliances like refrigerators and freezers, and scheduling devices to power on and off only during working hours can help to automate processes that’ll make your office more eco-friendly.
If you’re a small business and don’t yet have people in place responsible for sustainability and green policies – start now. Many workplaces will naturally find someone to champion green credentials, even if it’s not a position that can be a full-time hire at the moment.
If there is a sustainability team in place, ensure they’re visible in the office space, are honest, transparent, and ‘available’ for those wanting to do more to help.
Empower the team and wider workplace participation will flow more organically.
Electronic waste can be a particular burden for business, often costly and cumbersome to dispose of. In line with the mantra of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’, have policies in place to minimise wastage. Whether that’s future proofing by buying equipment that will last longer (for example, higher specification computers that will obsolete less quickly), or ensuring old devices get a second home, minimising electronic waste has several benefits.
When it comes to computers and appliances, there’s often a strong case for buying refurbished or pre-loved, but this does vary depending on device so as ever, have a policy in place, and take steps to minimise the amount of waste generated.
Throw in a little competition and it can be surprising just how much some departments and members of the team can get behind a course of action.
Encourage eco-friendly challenges in the workplace: think ‘which department can recycle the most’, ‘who can rack up the most green commuting miles’, or similar green challenges, and allow everyone to play their part.
Even if starting from scratch, start small, and have a company-wide ‘Green Week’, outlining plans to become a more eco-friendly office space, and get staff buy-in. A (green) incentive for the most impactful efforts can often become hard-fought-over!
A green office design idea that we love is when buildings use smart heating and cooling systems to save energy.
A great example of this building type is the White Collar Factory by The Office Group, which was built to be naturally sustainable. The design of the building structure encourages natural heating and ventilation, while its digital connectivity allows important energy data to be collected and analysed.
Solar panels, heat recovery, and even wind energy can all be harnessed in the right types of office space.
In the case of London, many office buildings are old, protected, or otherwise unable to have new energy technologies ‘bolted on’. In these instances, sourcing energy from wholesale suppliers who use renewable energies or offer carbon offsetting might cost a little more, but adds a lot to your green credentials.
It’s not for everyone, but the impact of agriculture relating to food is responsible for around 25% of total global emissions.
Encouraging a vegan or vegetarian diet in the office canteen is a quick way to help reduce your carbon footprint. Couple this with using local suppliers to minimise food miles, using green packaging items which are now widely available, and minimising food and drink waste in the first place, and you’ll have made a dent in the overall eco-friendliness of your office space.
Even offering cow’s milk alternatives for the coffee machine is a start, but take this as far as your values and budget allow. Consider and review materials used, gifts and items sent to suppliers and clients, and team days out and their respective impact on the planet.
Make it official with a professional accreditation that demonstrates your commitment to environmental standards.
ISO 14001 focuses on helping organisations identify and manage their environmental impact, control environmental risks, and comply with regulations. It applies to businesses of all sizes, and can show real commitment to continuous improvement of environmental performance.
Some customers and suppliers look more favourably to those with ISO standards, so if ISO 14001 was a first step, investigate ISO 14006 (eco-design for products and services), and ISO 14064 (greenhouse gas accounting and verification).
Sometimes, it can be hard to make the green office changes you want if your lease doesn’t allow it, or if the space itself isn’t right for the design you want. If that is the case for you, it might be worth looking for a new, greener office space – one with lots of access to natural light, where you can make the green transformations you want! Searching for a sustainable office space can be difficult and time-consuming.
Here at Making Moves, we can help companies who are looking to find and move to a greener building. Whatever requirements you have, we will identify options that we think will work for you. For more information, please drop us a message!
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