What are tips for a greener office?

July 9, 2012

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There are many great websites that offer tips for a greener office. The top tips can be summarized as:

(1) Recycle as many products as possible;
(2) Use reusable cups for coffee and other beverages;
(3) Encourage employee use of carpooling and public transportation; and
(4) Use less energy by turning off lights and computers nightly.

Another energy saving practice is to unplug office machines each night, including copiers and printers. First, check with the IT department to ensure that turning off equipment will not affect maintenance and backups.

Two other important tips are to use green painting contractors and carpet cleaning companies; as many paints and cleaning products include toxic chemicals. Using green alternatives, not only increases office greenness but can reduce toxins in the atmosphere which may hinder employee performance.

Some paints can have higher toxicity as they may include a chemical solvent, traditionally a Volatile Organic Compound (VOC). Solvents, including VOCs, bind pigment and base paint together to make it easy to spread, than dissolve on contact with air, allowing the paint to dry. VOCs are environmentally unsound, increasing greenhouse gases; and toxic to humans, especially in closed environments. They often contribute to the “sick building syndrome”. Some people experience such a strong reaction that entering a newly painted building can make them ill.

Paints that are made with low or no VOCs, and offer other savings beyond greening the office. Unlike traditional paints, low VOC paints do not produce the “new paint” odor. This allows repainting a building without the need to move employees or tenants out of the building or facility.

Using an experienced green painting contractor, who in familiar with the uses and advantages of green paints, will alleviate any of the potential pitfalls of a product that is relatively new to the market. The painting contractor can advise their clients on the best paints to use for various applications, and ensure the client receives the best solution for their needs.

Green carpet cleaning includes several elements. Carpet cleaning companies have a variety of equipment and cleaners to choose from, including green cleaning compounds. Professional contractors will provide a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for any cleaning compound they plan to use upon request. In addition, it is important to find a contractor who uses less water when cleaning. Less water provides a shorter drying time, another important aspect to green carpet cleaning. A short drying time not only prevents the growth of molds on the carpet, providing a cleaner working environment; but also saves water, a valuable natural resource.

There are many ways to create a green office that can be practiced by companies and employees from the CEO to the cleaning staff. As well as other best practices, using green painting and carpet cleaning services can provide valuable savings, both environmentally and economically.

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