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1. Turn off the lights.
2. Recycle or reuse office supplies.
3. Get yourself off mailing lists.
4. Drink more water from reusable glassware.
5. Purchase 100 percent post-consumer waste, non-chlorinated paper stock.
6. Use your printer's draft settings and avoid color printing.
7. Reuse single-sided paper.
8. Curb phantom electricity.
9. Purchase office supplies and equipment made from recycled materials.
10. Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
11. Provide incentives for commuters.
Fine-tune your window's blinds instead of closing them. Blinds are an integral part of improving a building's environmental and lighting strategy. They reflect harsh light toward the ceiling, especially the (unwanted) glare of morning sunlight and intense afternoon sun. By letting the sun shine in, you save on the energy used to power electric lights as well as the additional A/C need to offset the heat generated by the bulbs.
Turn off your office lights when leaving for 30 minutes or more. If 10 million office workers each turned off unnecessary lights for 30 minutes a day, the savings would efficiently illuminate 50 million additional square feet of office space. That's the equivalent of a 50 megawatt (MW) hydro-electric or coal plant.
Avoid excessive lighting levels that cause glare, eye strain, and fatigue. A fundamental thing to remember about light levels is that higher amounts do not equal better vision. The human eye perceives things through contrast, not light levels. So flooding the room with excess light only leads to glare, discomfort, and fatigue. Be experimental and try different lighting arrangements, turning on some but not all fixtures. Initially, your eyes will perceive the room darker when you turn off some lights, but they will adjust within a few minutes, and the room will appear to have a normal or acceptable level of lighting.
Turn off lights in meeting and conference rooms when not being used. Considerable electricity is wasted each day as a result of leaving the lights on in unoccupied conference rooms. In a building with a dozen meeting rooms, each with 500 watts or more of lighting fixtures, saving one hour of wasted lighting each day prevents the release of nearly three tons of CO2 greenhouse gas emissions.
Have your building manager install occupancy sensors that automatically turn off the lights after the room is emptied.
If you need artificial light, use an Energy Star desk or floor lamp and turn off the ceiling lights in your office. The worst option, by far, is the halogen torchier which requires a monstrous 250 to 500 watts. This extremely inefficient lamp is also a major fire hazard due to the very high temperature of the halogen bulb. The multi-hundred watt bulb consumes four or more times the electricity to provide the same lighting as a high-efficiency compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) torchier, and ten times more watts than a CFL desk task lamp.
In manufacturing recycled paper compared to virgin paper, not only is less forest destroyed, but 74 percent less air pollution is generated, 35 percent less water pollution is caused, 58 percent less water is required, and 64 percent less energy is used to produce the same quality paper products.
Even after paper recycling, much more of the trash stream can be reduced or prevented (what some term "pre-cycling"). Recycle CDs, DVDs, printer cartridges, and batteries. Use a travel mug when you buy coffee refills (some coffee shops will even give you a discount).
Recycle aluminum cans, glass, and plastic bottles. Plastic plates, spoons, forks, and knives can be washed and reused again.
The environmental impacts of making, using, and disposing of this 4 million tons of annual catalog paper are substantial, and 40 percent of it is never opened. Catalogues make up 3 percent of the waste in America's landfills, destroy 62 million trees annually, and using 28 billion gallons of water for paper processing.
The average American consumes more than 400 beverage bottles and cans per year, leaving a legacy of wasted glass, plastic, steel, and aluminum. Quenching this thirst consumes a prodigious amount of fossil fuels and hydropower for mining, processing, refining, shaping, shipping, storing, refrigerating, and disposing of these materials. In addition, it takes 10 gallons of water to produce each cola drink.
The majority of paper is chlorinated or bleached to a bright white, creating a pollution by-product. Many paper companies now offer a selection of non-chlorinated paper to avoid this. Look for totally chlorine-free paper stocks (TCF); processed chlorine-free paper (PCF) that contains recycled content produced without chlorine or its derivatives; partially processed chlorine-free paper stock (%PCF); and elementally chlorine-free paper stock (ECF), virgin paper produced without chlorine but with chlorine derivatives. Non-chlorinated paper is more natural in color, but is of the same high quality as the bleached variety.
The life of the toner cartridge depends on the amount of toner that print jobs require. For example, when printing text at 5 percent coverage, an HP toner cartridge lasts an average of 15,000 pages. (A typical business letter is about 5 percent coverage). Econo-mode can use 50 percent less toner, enabling twice as many pages to be printed.
Buy Recycled, Comprehensive Procurement Guide, U.S. EPABack to Top
Environmental Procurement, Pacific NW Pollution Prevention Resource Center
Buy Recycled Training Institute
Since 1998, the U.S. government has offered the Commuter Choice Program, which provides federal tax-free transit, vanpool benefits, or taxable cash, to businesses – up to $175 per employee per month – if they convince their staff to carpool, telecommute, bicycle, or walk to work. For details, go to http://www.epa.gov/otaq/stateresources/index.htm.
Telecommuting is an especially nice option for employers, if your type of business can support it. The International Telework Association and Council (http://www.telecommute.org) estimates that each telecommuter can save the employer $10,006 in reduced absenteeism and job retention costs – a big reason the number of telecommuters has jumped to more than 10 percent of the workforce.
Offering flexible work hours is another way to encourage employees to bike, walk, or use public transportation.
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