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How to Create a Sustainable Workplace

by Stephanie Dube Dwilson, studioD

A sustainable workplace is one that conserves natural resources and reduces waste while also meeting all the needs of the people who work there. Making your workplace sustainable can require as little as adding a few new appliances and workplace policies or require as much as taking on new building renovation plans. Creating a sustainable office is usually a process that you approach one step at a time.

Energy Efficiency

Consuming the minimum needed energy is a hallmark of creating a sustainable office. Replace outdated computer equipment and other electronics with new items that use less electricity. Change the lighting your office uses to more energy-efficient bulbs and modify the air conditioning and heating systems to allow for more personalized control. You'll need to get the entire staff on board to implement some new policies, like making sure the last person to leave the office turns off all the lights or making sure all employees put their computers into a more energy-efficient sleep mode when they leave. You can also automate some steps, like setting the AC to make the building less cold during off-hours.

Reduce Waste

You'll also want to look into ways you can reduce waste in order to create a more sustainable workplace with a smaller carbon footprint. For example, implement recycling policies, providing recycling bins on each floor or even at each desk. Take a close look at how much water your office consumes every month and look for ways to decrease water usage, such as installing toilets with water-saving mechanisms. Also look at the vendors and suppliers you use for your business. Do they take measures to reduce waste and implement recycling programs? If not, consider moving your business to vendors who do.

Interior Design

The phrase "sustainable workplace" often also entails having a sustainable work environment that minimizes wasted office space. This may involve cutting down the number of desks you have and letting employees who work different shifts share desks, or having some employees work from home. When employees work from home, you also cut down on emissions from car drives back and forth to work. Sustainability can also involve cutting down on territorial work spaces. This means providing an environment with more community spaces to encourage collaboration, having an energy efficient global printer rather than individual printers at each desk, offering less storage space for personal items and switching from desktops to laptops for greater space and energy efficiency.

Building Changes

If you want to take on an even bigger sustainability project for your workplace that will also be costlier, you can consider renovating your entire building or moving into a new building that was created to be sustainable. For example, buildings that incorporate better natural lighting and natural ventilation also need less energy for lighting and air conditioning. Some offices plant gardens on the roof of their building so they can grow some of their own food for employee meals. If you switch to having more employees work from home, you might even give up using a building altogether and have drop-in offices instead that are rented hourly by employees who live in the same area.

About the Author

With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.

Photo Credits

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