GP*: Will Your Office Pass the Green Test?

Implementing some environment-friendly measures in order to improve the sustainability of your office space may be easier than you think.

Green OfficeThe world we live in is changing all the time; from the way we live our personal lives to the way we do business. New ideas and technology have enhanced and paved the way for more efficient ways to meet with clients and conduct business. One of the most recent and largest changes being made is a way to continue doing business while conserving the world’s natural resources. Everything is going “green” these days. Will your office pass the green test?

Having an office that will pass the green test does not necessarily mean remodeling the office space to make it more energy efficient. There are simple, small things you can do to help improve your office efficiency. A green office may help you save money and help you do your part to help the environment.

For starters, going green is really a team effort. Whether you are a one person business leasing or renting one hundred square feet of office space, a home office, or a large business which leases an entire floor, make sure that everyone around is aware of your green efforts at the corporate level. Approaching your colleagues, a family member, or even your building management, is a good first step. There are many different ways to do this, whether it is over dinner, a friendly e-mail, or participating in corporate events such as the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge; getting everyone involved and aware is important.

Chances are you’re already very green-friendly. If you are using e-mail or a digital phone system you are reducing the daily need for paper, or eliminating the need to travel for conferences. Video conferencing may reduce your need to travel as well, and VOIP phones can make it seem as if you are never out of the office. Another way to reduce paper use is to use your computer to keep notes. Many newspaper and magazine publications now allow you to read their versions online. To help reduce eye strain, and the need to print, tilt your monitor- the proper tilt can help you be more productive and will help reduce eye strain. It is suggested that the top of the monitor be further away from your eyes than the bottom for the proper tilt. If you do have to print, purchase recycled computer paper. Fax-to-email and sending faxes electronically may eliminate the need to print as well.

Your computer can be easily configured to save on electricity. Often, computers are not turned off at night to allow for updates. An easy way to save is to unplug any add-ons that may waste energy, such as your mouse, keyboard, or even your monitor. Putting a monitor in sleep mode can reduce electricity consumption by nearly a third. Do not replace any electronics but, if necessary, make sure that they are Energy Star efficient. Further, most office equipment is now available in multi-task versions. Check out energystar.gov, which is a great resource for energy efficient office equipment.

Another step to green your office is to have as much natural light as possible- some studies suggest that natural light can help boost the creativity of people in your office area. Make sure there is enough light for the amount of work you are doing.A well-lit office with natural light can also allow you to bring plants or other greenery to your office.

The common areas in any office are often where, with a few minor changes, you can make some major green improvements. You can start by replacing all the paper cups for tea or coffee with your own mug. Make sure that there are bins to recycle computer paper, and any lunch bins that are recyclable. An ideal place for this would also be next to a copier or fax machine. Providing an electronic shredder along with a recycle bin is a good idea both for security purposes and to encourage recycling.

Make telecommuting available- with the price of gas and the time involved to commute to work, many people feel like they are in the hole before they even begin their work day. You can help save this problem with making telecommuting possible whenever you can. Have you ever considered the effects of having employees work out of a virtual office? A virtual office may eliminate the need for office space altogether. However, if office space is necessary, most business centers do offer temporary or day-to-day office space, along with meeting rooms rentable by the hour.

If you are working from home, you can apply all of the aforementioned techniques to your home office. If you are furnishing your home office, there are now many stores which offer sustainable office furniture. The simplest purchase which won’t hurt your wallet is a green office chair. If you are committed to going green, don’t throw your old furniture away! Donate it. There are many charitable organizations that will pick up your furniture for free and, of course there, are tax incentives.

These are just a few of many different possibilities for you to consider. You can have a “green” office that makes both you and your employees feel great, too. Your office can be improved, no matter how large or small. After taking a look at these ideas, see where you stack up, and if you passed the “green” office test. Remember, going green is great for the environment, and often great for your wallet as well.

Yevgeniy Gutsalo is an office manager for Corporate Suites Business Centers – http://www.csbcenters.com — a New York City based business center operator, providing state-of-the-art office space, ideal for start-ups, multi-city organizations, and small users as well as virtual office & meeting room services for organizations worldwide. He may be reached at info@csbcenters.com or 212-512-0500.

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gbNYC is a multi-disciplinary consulting and real estate services firm. In addition to representing office tenants and commercial buyers in leasing and acquisitions, we also provide innovative consulting solutions from a unique, green building perspective. We advise on green building financial incentives, comment on proposed green building marketing strategies, author white papers, treatises, and market analyses, organize seminars on the LEED process and professional accreditation, and provide advice and analysis on green building risk management and the overall state of green real estate, leasing, and construction, in New York City and beyond.

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