31% of all electricity in the United States is used to run commercial buildings. This rate continues to rise as companies add new office equipment. Energy use for office equipment is expected to rise by 500% in the next decade.
GOOD: Be sure to turn off lights in offices and conference rooms when they are not in use.
You might also ask your company to install automatic room lighting controls.
These devices are similar to programmable thermostats and optimize lighting use by automatically turning lights on or off depending upon occupancy or time of day.
BETTER: Turn off office equipment when it is not needed at night or on the weekends. About 30 to 40% of office equipment is left on at night and on weekends
If your company's computers are on a network and you can't shut them off at night, be sure to turn off your monitor. When counted together, computer monitors use more energy than any other piece of office equipment.
BEST: Encourage your company to participate in the EPA's Energy Star program and Green Lights program.
In a small office, Energy Star equipment can save more than 3,500 kilowatt hours of electricity per year (about $265 dollars at current energy prices). Overall, the EPA estimates that the Energy Star Office Equipment program will save 21 billion kilowatt-hours and 2.3 billion pounds of carbon dioxide a year -- the equivalent of taking 807,000 cars off the road.
Participants in the EPA Green Lights program are using lighting options to cut their power bills in half and earn an average 58% return on their investment.
The majority of car trips are related to commuting to and from work.
GOOD: Consider taking public transportation more frequently or riding your bike to work.
Call the Bicycle Federation of America at 202-332-6986 to see what kinds of bicycle programs your city has and to get more information on how to encourage cities to develop more bicycle paths and alternative transport incentives.
BETTER: Talk to your company about setting up a transportation plan for employees.
Many companies have ride sharing programs as do many local governments. Call the American Council on Transportation at 1-800-223-8774 for ride sharing information in your area.
BEST: Talk to your company about creating an alternative work schedule program such as flex time and telecommuting programs.
These programs shift work hours away from peak traffic times, which decreases traffic congestion, commuting time and driver anxiety. They also allow for more days off, decreasing the number of trips to and from the office.
Office paper is the largest percentage of a company's garbage everyday. About 85% of office paper is currently discarded (over 7 million tons in the United States alone every year). In addition, commercial paper use increased 245% between 1960 and 1994 and continues to grow.
Share electronic files, voicemail and e-mail with office mates instead of creating paper memos.
Reduce fax traffic by using computer modems instead of the office fax machine. You can save paper on one or both ends.
Always use the second side of paper, either by printing on both sides or using the blank side as scrap paper.
Use scrap paper to take notes instead of using notebooks, company pads, or message pads.
Use scrap paper instead of stickies.
Help start an office paper recycling program at your company if one is not in place.
If there is one, encourage your co-workers to use it -- sometimes a simple reminder about the amount of paper that gets thrown away every year is all it takes!
Make sure that recycling bins are located close to printers and photocopiers (and remove the trash can if possible). If people have to walk to recycle materials they will usually throw them away instead.
A NOTE ON OFFICE SUPPLIES: Always encourage your company to buy office supplies that have recycled content. The more people and companies using materials made from recycled material, the bigger the market there will be for recycling and the more money your company and local government can make from recycling programs. There are a number of high quality recycled content papers and paper products available today and they are usually priced the same as virgin paper supplies. You can even buy paper clips, staples and other office products that are recycled.
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