Ways to Conserve Natural Resources in the Workplace
As concerns about global warming, pollution and other environmental issues increase, consumers are looking to businesses to reduce waste and increase efficiency to better the environment and reduce their carbon footprint. The companies that employ American workers must do their part as well to “go green” through the use of the latest eco-friendly technology, and by adapting and promoting programs that encourage employees to pitch in and make a difference.
- General Practices
- In the Office Area
- In the Cafeteria or Breakroom
- Shipping, Receiving, or Load Dock Area
- Parking Lot and Pool Cars
- Grounds and Landscaping
- A facilitator for the company's "green" effort should be assigned. This facilitator should be responsible for establishing programs to educate employees about cost-saving recycling and waste reduction. The facilitator should ensure that program goals and ongoing results are effectively communicated to the employees on a regular basis.
- The company should encourage "telecommuting" as much as possible to save on fuel costs, boost morale, and reduce harmful emissions.
- Reduction of mail - business should strive to opt-out of junk and non-appropriate mail sources, keep applicable customer mailing lists up-to-date, and communicate electronically where possible both inter-office and externally.
- The company promotes and encourages ride sharing to meetings and work, and assists employees with carpooling options.
- Recycling and trash bins are located generously throughout the building, and are labeled for easy identification.
- Employees are encouraged to use mass transit, if available, and offers an incentive to do so such as providing credit to help pay for bus or trian tickets.
- Toilet paper provided in restrooms is made from recycled materials, and air hand-dryers utilized instead of paper towels.
- The company cleaning staff uses natural, nontoxic cleaning products.
In the Office Area
- Office supplies are used that contain recycled materials and nontoxic products such as markers, trash bags and desktop accessories.
- Staff communications are electronic, not paper based: an internal network is utilized for e-mail, scheduling, announcements, record keeping, inventory management and faxing. Editing and document proofing is completed on the computer and information is stored on the hard drive or network to lessen the need for discs.
- Copy machine use is limited as much as possible and uses refillable, reusable toner cartridges.
- Computers and office equipment is powered down after hours; screen savers are not utilized as they do not save energy.
- The accounting department uses electronic billing and payment methods exclusively.
- An electronic confirmation system is available that allows clients to sign orders electronically and obtain an electronic receipt.
- Office equipment and small appliances are energy saving models with "EnergyStar" ratings.
- Computers are recycled and/or donated. The average lifetime of a personal computer is five years.
- Conference rooms are set up with projection screens to give electronic presentations, and laptop connections for note-sharing. Wipeable white boards and non-scented markers are available for those who aren't prepared to present electronically.
- Docking stations are utilized for laptops that are used for employees who travel or tele-commute to facilitate electronic transfer of work and data.
In the Cafeteria or Breakroom
- Reusable trays, plates and silverware are used to reduce foam and plastic use.
- Smaller portion, less expensive meals should be available on the menu.
- Reuseable cloth lunch bags should be provided to encourage employees who want to bring their own lunch.
- Condiments are served from reusable containers as opposed to individual packaging.
- Energy saving appliances are used.
- The food service composts food waste and coffee grounds, and fat from cooking is rendered.
- There is a discount offered for coffee, soda, etc for individuals who provide their own reuseable cups or mugs.
Shipping, Receiving and Loading Dock
- Reusable or minimal packaging is requested from vendors. The company buys products in bulk (unpackaged) when possible to reduce packaging.
- Recycled envelopes are utilized and addresses hand-printed to avoid the need for labels.
- Waste materials such as metal scraps, sawdust and floor sweepings, pallets, scrap wood and strapping bands are recycled.
- The company purchases high-quality pallets, which last longer and are repairable. Non-repairable pallets are sent to a lumberyard to be shredded for mulch, or employees take them home for kindling.
- Contigent on the product, obtain re-useable shipping containers with built-in packing. Plan for delivery drivers bring containers back for reuse after delivery and unloading. Enclosed note within in packaging requesting that recipients reuse packaging materials.
Parking Lot and Pool Cars
- All company cars utilized are hybrid, electric or other fuel-efficient vehicles.
- Parking spaces are reserved for car pool vehicles, as well as fuel-efficient vehicles.
- Maintenance and servicing of company vehicles includes recycling antifreeze and oil. Vehicles are maintained for optimum fuel efficiency including regular tune-ups, brake adjustments and tire pressure checks.
- Biking to work is encouraged and a secure, convenient bike rack area is available.
- Modest lighting in the parking lot is more energy efficient and directs light downward.
Grounds and Landscaping
- Native flora should be selected as landscaping, such that it adapts to the local climate and requires less maintenance, water and chemicals.
- The rain gutter system should be designed such that it allows rainwater to soak into the ground or be collected for later use, watering the grounds rather than running into storm sewers.
- Landscape design should focus on trees and plants that offer windbreaks and shade around the facility for energy saving.
- Picnic tables, benches or playground equipment are made from recycled high-density polyethylene plastic that came from gallon milk jugs.
- Sidewalks and/or pleasant walking paths encourage employees to exercise and even walk to work.
- The building is outfitted with occupancy/motion and photo-sensors for the light switches in each room, therefore lights are turned off automatically when rooms are not in use.
- The building is constructed with properly insulated windows and green building (sustainable and high performance) features such as recycled building materials. Windows overlook native landscaping and the building is mostly daylighted.
- The buiding includes high efficiency air conditioning and heating systems, as well as hot water systems.
- All lighting fixtures are energy-saving models with "EnergyStar" or "Green Lights" labels. These bulbs are 75 percent more energy efficient and last ten times longer than a standard bulb.
- A locker and shower area is provided to encourage employees to ride bikes and walk to work.
- Restrooms are outfitted with properly maintained sinks and toilets with auto-flush and low flow devices.