Green Office Tips

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How to initiate the Green Office Program?


Understanding your office


The preliminary step towards greening your office is to firstly understand your office by referring to the checklist (Appendix A). The checklist is to know your basis, such as scope area, number of people and current office management practices where you are going to implement your environmental policies and targets. This checklist is also to help you list your current environmental practices. This list can later be used as a basis to check whether the office will meet the environmental policy and targets hence determine what action plans to adopt.


Set Environmental Policy, Commitment, and Target


The first step for any office wanting to improve their environmental standing is to establish a written policy and commitment. This will help to set targets, develop programs, goals and monitor progress. All offices should have an environmental policy that is adopted, authorized and committed to by the top management. It will be difficult to maintain enthusiasm and channel the appropriate time and resources to greening the office without any support.


Put Someone in Charge


It may be beneficial to have someone in the office whose sole job is to set up carpooling or keep track of office recycling and energy use. The money spent on paying somebody to hold this position will be well worth it when you get your utility bill and save the planet.


Signs


Place switch-off light sign near light switches and doors.

Placing signage reminders and motivate staff to commit to eco-office practices.

Place water conservation signs near toilets and pantry.

Place eco-office poster at notice boards, pantry or canteen.

Place a catchy slogan with attention attracting image near personal computers to remind staff to the eco-office commitment and staff's role

The office is encouraged to come with other in-house initiatives (s).


Tips on How to Achieve Green Office Certification


A. Purchasing Office Equipment & Stationery- Green Principles


Key issues to consider when purchasing. Greening your office challenges you to think about whether your organization's "needs" can be met in different ways.


  • Can we lease, share or swap instead of purchasing?

  • Does the product have an environmental, energy rating or water rating label?

  • Does the product have energy-saving features or a "sleep" mode for when it is not being used?

  • Does the supplier have good environmental credentials?

  • Is upgrading, reconditioning or extending the useful life of our current model a better option?

  • How long will this particular product last?

  • Will it be easily repaired or upgraded?

  • Are we paying for features we don't need and won't use?

  • How much energy or materials will it use?

  • Does the product contain recycled materials?

  • Can this product be recycled, sold or donated when we've finished with it?

  • Does it come with too much packaging?

  • It's much better to buy products that are locally made or assembled to reduce transport


B. Waste Management


i) Stationery, paper use, faxing and printing:

  • Set up paper reuse trays for the collection of paper that has only been used on one side. Always reuse paper that has been printed on one side for note-taking, printing drafts or message-taking, etc.

  • Create a space on your website for publications so that reports and documents can be downloaded and viewed on-screen.

  • Compile an email listing to distribute e-versions of your reports or seasonal greetings.

  • Use the revision/changes marking function available in most word processing software.

  • Use notice boards and/or emails for official announcements, updates and meeting minutes.

  • Reuse envelopes whenever possible, especially for sending information internally.

  • Do not use fax cover sheets when faxing.

ii) Mass mail and brochures:

  • When receiving unwanted junk mail from a mailing list of a predecessor who has left the company, take a proactive measure to inform the sender to stop sending or remove his/her name from the mailing list.

  • Similarly, when sending out reports or brochures, it is advisable to check if the recipient has an interest in receiving such material. Use email or mail a postcard first to check if recipients are interested in receiving your reports and materials.

iii) For pantry and mealtime:

  • Avoid packaging, buy in bulk. Choose products with minimal packaging, including bulk coffee, cream, and sugar rather than individually portioned packages.

  • When buying back lunch, try not to ask for a plastic bag.

  • Avoid using disposable utensils and cups in the office.

  • Use reusable containers when buying back meals – bring your own containers or your office may provide these containers.

  • Engage the services of a recycling contractor and provide recycling bins.

  • Place recycling bins for what your office can recycle in areas where they are normally used and thrown away.

  • Remind staff frequently about your office's recycling scheme.

iv) Paper and boxes:

  • Place recycling bins around the office. To make recycling easier, provide staff with personal boxes and place larger boxes in areas where there is higher paper waste like near printers and photocopiers.

  • To increase recycling efficiency, the office could eliminate personal waste bins and only maintain centralized bins for general waste as well as recycle bins.

  • Always load paper printed only on one side into printers and photocopiers trays.

  • Designate an area of your office that can be used to store over-sized boxes for collection by your recycling contractor.

  • Even confidential paper waste can be recycled. Ask your contractor if they provide shredding services or invest in a paper shredder for your office.

  • Give preference to equipment capable of using unbleached paper with up to 100% post-consumer recycled content.

  • Purchase photocopiers and printers that have double-siding functions, energy-saving mode, and recyclable cartridge. If the current photocopiers and printers are not able to perform double-sided printing, load paper which has been used on one side.

  • Use one multipurpose machine for photocopying, printing and faxing, this will decrease their idle time, reduce standby energy and provide for more cost-effective use of the equipment.

v) Printers:

  • Default printer settings to automatically print double-sided if your office printers have the facility.

  • Set printer to energy-saving mode to enable automatic energy saving when the printer is idle for 10-15 minutes.

vi) Photocopiers:

  • Use the reduction capability of photocopier machines e.g. A3 reduction to A4 halves the paper required.

  • Ensure all staff familiarizes themselves with the functions of the photocopier. Simple guidelines on how to use the double-siding and reduction facility should be provided so that they can operate the photocopier correctly and avoid mistakes that waste paper.

vii) Fax:

  • Purchase plain paper fax machines than coated paper fax machines.

vii) Cartridges:

  • Purchase recycled cartridges and recycles the empty ones.

  • Some economic rewards of up to 50% have been reported for buying recycled cartridges.

  • Record the number of cartridges purchased and recycled.

viii) Others:

  • Recycle aluminum cans, glass, and plastics

  • Use rechargeable batteries.

  • Keep a cloth towel next to the sink instead of paper towels.

  • Before deciding whether you need to purchase new office furniture, see if your existing office furniture can be refurbished. It's less expensive than buying new and better for the environment.

  • Donate equipment or future that your office no longer needs to staff, charity or second-hand buyers.


C. Resource Efficiency


i) Electricity

  • Switch off all lights, computers, copiers, and other non-essential equipment when not in use including after office hours at night and during weekends e.g. photocopiers left on standby mode throughout the night use energy equivalent to printing 5,000 copies.

  • Encourage staff to save energy by placing signs and/or display tabulated past energy consumption records in notice boards or mass email.

  • Consider green-labeled and energy-saving products.

  • Get an energy audit conducted at your office. Audits cover all aspects of office energy including insulation, cooling, lighting and equipment use, and tell you where your greatest energy losses are and where you could make the greatest savings.

ii) Lighting

  • Reduce lighting especially if the office has windows and able to use the sunlight.

  • Install a light sensor that adjusts the office light intensity depending on the level of natural light presence.

  • Install motion sensors that turn off light intensity depending on the level of natural light presence.

  • Install motion sensors that turn off lights when no one is in the room.

  • Replace lights electronic ballast every few years.

  • Replace normal filament light bulbs with the energy-efficient alternative. Fluorescent lights give off a lot more light and are more cost and energy-efficient compared to incandescent ones. They are other energy-saving bulbs also last 10 times longer.

iii) Computers

  • Enable energy-saving features on all computers and copiers.

  • Put computer monitors to sleep rather than use screensavers.

  • Turn off monitors when not using for periods of more than 30 minutes.

  • Turn off personal computers if not in use for 2 hours or more. Don't worry, this will not harm your machine.

  • Choose a low voltage computer with low energy hard drive and good power management features. Also consider a low-resolution, monochrome or crystal liquid display monitor.

  • Printers spend a lot of time "idling" and this consumes energy, so compare the energy consumption of different makes.

  • Inkjet or dot-matrix printers minimize energy consumption. These use up to 95% less and 75% less energy, respectively than laser printers.

iv) Air conditioning and cooling the building

  • You want to be more comfortable when working, not cold. Adjust your air conditioning temperature settings to 25°C or warmer every time you're feeling cold. If your building has a centralized system, appoint someone responsible for contacting building management and has then adjusted your office's temperature settings accordingly.

  • Make sure the external door and windows are closed and do not allow to cool air to escape from your office.

  • Lights and machines give off heat, so turn them off when not needed to reduce your building's cooling requirements.

  • Regular maintenance and annual servicing of your air conditioning system can ensure maximum energy efficiency and performance.

  • Energy-saving tips from TNB

v) Water

  • Obtain the Aqua Save Certificate from PBA

  • Install water-saving devices in toilets and pantry faucets e.g. flow restrictor on taps and dual flush system – half and full flush option in toilets.

  • Report any leaks to the appropriate personnel. If you share a common toilet with other offices, the best person would be building management staff.

  • Encourage staff to save water in toilets and pantry by placing signs and/or display tabulated past water consumption records in notice boards or mass email.

  • Insist that environmentally-friendly products are used for cleaning.

  • Water-saving tips from PBA

vi) Paper

  • Aim to reduce the amount of paper waste generated by offices. Actively record paper purchase, inventory and/or regulate the distribution of paper to staff.

  • Encourage staff to reduce paper usage by performing inter-staff monthly paper usage reduction report or competition.

  • If printing is necessary, format documents to minimize wasting space, e.g. reducing the font size, line spacing of not more than 1.5, smaller margins, etc.

  • Print documents on both sides of the paper if your office printers have a double-siding facility. Make it part of your standard format for all reports and materials printed by your office.

  • Use the back of letterheads as well when sending letters.

  • Read and alter documents on the screen to avoid printing out numerous draft copies of a report or other documents that may be unnecessary.

  • Print addresses directly onto envelopes instead of using sticker labels.

  • Use electronic methods of communication or notice boards where possible rather than sending letters or internal memos. Also, avoid printing out emails unless necessary.

  • Use computer-linked faxes (modem fax) instead of paper faxes. These allow documents to be sent directly from a computer without requiring a printed hard copy.

  • Have documents for reference stored electronically where staff can easily access them.

  • If hard copies are necessary, limit your office to one that can be circulated amongst staff or kept in a centralized reference center.

  • Cancel all unwanted and redundant publications and receive them via email if possible.

  • The office is encouraged to come with other in-house initiative(s).


D. Health & Safety


  • Buy products that have low or no formaldehyde, trichloroethylene or benzene in them.

  • Put air-cleaning plants in your office some of the recommended indoor varieties are: Peace Lilly, Dracina, mother-in-law‟s tongue, English ivy, Chinese fern, parlor palms. If you have more light then choose spider plants or flowering plants (e.g. chrysanthemums or azaleas)

  • Ensure sufficient air exchange through good ventilation. No matter how hard you try there will always be indoor air pollutants. It is important that they can escape from the building. (Contact BRANZ for information on Building code regulations)

  • Use cleaning agents that are low in volatile organic content (check out the product label for VOC content)

  • For those concerned about electromagnetic fields, (these are created by any electricity – copiers, computers etc.), consider the following: - Smart wiring using low voltage electronic signals from switches to a centrally controlled computer. - If there are windows in your office, open windows and/or doors for 10-15 minutes each day to allow ventilation and air circulation.


E. Employee & Community Engagement


  • All employees must understand and adopt the mission statement

  • Influence community & supply chain to adopt Green Office concept