If any day was the day you make the leap into transforming your office environment into a more eco-friendly one, it should be Earth Day (22nd April). Most people wrongly assume that it’s in the hands of the big multi-national companies to take this under their wing; however, nearly half of the UK’s private businesses are now SMEs. Therefore as a smaller business, you have no excuse; being kinder to the environment will definitely pay dividends. Here are 5 tips to get started:
- Recycle your office waste
We do not doubt that most of you have excellent recycling habits at home, but these can often be forgotten at the office. As an employer, make sure you have well spread and identified recycling bins and that your employees know the recycling rules. A simple step to becoming sustainable as an employee is consistently recycling your office waste and going as paperless as possible.
- Avoid plastic cups and cutlery
On average, there are about 220 working days in a year. The average person drinks 2 cups of coffee and (hopefully) 8 glasses of water a day. That represents almost 500 cups and 500 stirrers discarded each year unnecessarily from your coffee, not to mention any plastic cups by the water cooler.
Make an effort to switch to a reusable coffee cup and water bottle. It will have a significant impact and is directly helping reduce plastic waste.
- Bringing nature into the office
Incorporating natural elements such as natural lighting and ventilation or green walls brings more than being environmentally friendly and reducing energy costs. It has proven to help reduce stress, increase attention spans, and improve general wellbeing.
A very low-cost example is simply integrating natural light in indoor spaces. This has been found to reduce the need for artificial lighting and potentially lower energy costs by up to 80%.
- Using AI and IoT for energy conservation
Using artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) can also help drive overall efficiencies in energy consumption. With the upskill in technology, we can leverage data to be more eco-friendly. If you have the funds, you can predict thermal needs in your building based on the weather conditions that day and how many people are occupying the office. This can save up to 40% of energy costs while keeping temperatures within a predetermined range.
More straightforward steps could include timed air conditioning, automatic lighting, and even changing your lightbulbs to a more energy-efficient option. (LEDs, CFLs, etc.) may initially seem expensive, but they last significantly longer and use much less energy (wattage). You may need to get some new electrical fittings, but the long term benefit is worth it.
- Keep communicating your mission
Getting your eco-friendly message across means incorporating it as an inherent part of your brand, whether that is setting fun targets and incentives, mentioning it in your weekly meetings or sticking reminders on the toilet cubical wall. A simple, consistent reminder on how, what, and more importantly, why you are as an office, being more sustainable will make more than a difference. The important thing is to provide guidance and make any rules clear.