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Going Green in the Office

Adobe Systems HQ in San Jose, one of the greenest office buildings in the U.S.
You spend as much time there as anywhere else (at least that what your spouse sneers when he/she needs your help and you’re not around), so why not help your workplace become more environmentally friendly? It’s the one spot outside your home you can really help shape and take pride in.

And there’s plenty of room for conservation. The federal government’s latest Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey, which covers everything from offices to prisons (but not malls, for some reason), says U.S. buildings spent more than $69 billion on electricity and consumed 890 billion kWh in 2003 (the newest, 2007 survey is due soon). That’s the equivalent of powering a 100-watt light bulb for more than a billion years. We can shave a million or two years off that, can’t we?

There are a ton of places on the Web that can help teach you how to green your workday. Here’s a broad list of the best steps to take to go green at work, each linked to a definitive source.

Green-office overview – From Grist. A good place to start your environmental campaign.

Reduce lighting demands – From U.S. Dept. of Energy. The importance of turning off lights, using automatic dimmers and maximizing daylighting (green-ese for “open your shades!”).

Turn off your computer and other electronics when not needed – From Colorado State University. I admit, I only recently started powering down to conserve energy; I used to always just “log off.”

Moderate the temperature – From the EPA’s Energy Star section. HVAC stats in all their engrossing glory!

Reduce paper use – From the National Resources Defense Council. Don’t print e-mail unless absolutely necessary, use the other side of already-printed-on paper for faxes, etc.

Recycle – From Eartheasy, a good collection of general recycling info. Also see the EPA’s steps for setting up business recycling programs for everything from paper to electronics.

Use recycled goods – Also from the EPA. This tool helps you find places to buy all sorts of office goods made from recycled content.

Use earth-friendly office furniture – From The Green Office. Furniture that meets the industry’s BIFMA standards, namely, that which is manufactured with “materials and natural resource utilization, energy, renewable energy, greenhouse gas impacts, human and eco-system health, material toxicity, and social responsibility” in mind.

Carpool – From ERideshare.com. You can figure out the carpooling thing on your own, as long as you have a buddy headed in the same direction. But if you don’t, this site will hook you up.

Use mass transit – From the American Public Transportation Association, which says mass transit reduces the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually.

Surround yourself with plants – From the National Gardening Association. Studies show you’re happier and healthier when you work among flora. Bring me a shrubbery!

Also check out my previous post on companies’ efforts to green their office.

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“Going Green in the Office”

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