The Lean Green Office Machine – Part 1
Why You and Your Company Should Go Green
Going green is not just a passing fad. It’s here to stay. As a movement, the environmental green initiative has, expectedly, permeated every corner of our culture, instilling a Jungian environmentally friendly consciousness. And because it’s here to stay, it’s time we all woke up, listened up, and got real serious about it. Like Incredible Hulk green.
Where Did All this Going Green Stuff Come From?
There are plenty of reasons to go green. First and foremost of course, is the role we all play in caring for nature. But even if you’re not a genuine nature lover, there’s the science you can trust that has observed the effects of global warming, the greenhouse gas emissions, temperature increase, pollution, Arctic ice cap meltdown, biological mutation and adverse effects, and more. Ignore all that, and there’s still the smog in the air over the cities, the crazy weather, increasing energy prices, etc. Environmentalism has been increasingly in the media, ever since El Nino of 97-98 (and even earlier). Recent movies have commented on the environment, like The Day After Tomorrow where the earth freezes due to global warming, and The Simpson’s Movie, where the EPA takes over Springfield. Environmental activist Al Gore’s 1992 book, Earth in the Balance, and his 2006 film documentary An Inconvenient Truth have also gotten the world’s attention. In America, the 2005 Energy Policy Act, the executive order 13423 on “Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy and Transportation Management” and other legislation have created corporate tax incentives for green efforts and encouraged individuals and organizations to pursue environmentally-minded conservative action when it comes to energy usage, industrial emissions, transportation alternatives, and more.
If that’s not enough reason to “go green”, green is (money). Many companies are looking into the green initiative not only out of goodwill, but because it also means conserving resources, saving money, and reducing waste. It’s also good business – “green” products pull out higher prices and profits with consumers who prefer spending their money on a good cause, green business efforts are good press, and the social responsibility that comes with it enables businesses to take on a leadership role within their community.
As a business, there are basically four main categories of green initiative involvement:
- the investments you make in the materials, design and construction of your office,
- the conservative, efficient, and sustainable office furniture and other office materials you use to fill your office,
- the way you use and dispose of those office materials, and
- the environmentally minded simple actions you can take and eco-friendly philanthropic program ideas.
In the following series of articles, we will touch on various tips on how to go green with your business through these four areas of involvement. Since 90% of what you put into your office is office furniture, there are be many opportunities for you to help the environment AND your business through choosing the right office furniture.
Click here to read more about how feng shui office furniture design can help the environment.
To get started going green with your business we thought we would work from the outside in to discuss tips and ideas on how to best help the environment through your company and company office. It is also the most obvious and notable way to go green – that is, designing and building an environmentally friendly office.
Many new and existing companies are pursuing LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) architectural design and certification for their office building construction. Several businesses are also pursuing it for tax incentives and/or to meet government mandated regulations. LEED certification may require more of an upfront cost, but its return is significant, for the business and the environment, mutually. Also, many socially minded businesses are just pursuing environmental construction without going after the certification itself.
When constructing the office building, look for ways to use sustainable, recycled, and local materials (whether the parts are plastic, wood, or metal). When constructing the office, always look for ways to reduce energy consumption and emission of pollutants. Renovating, annexing or reusing parts of a standing building’s shell or frame is also a good way to conserve resources and energy. Look for office furniture liquidations to take advantage of plug and play lease options, where all the great condition used office furniture is already there waiting for you.
Remember, not only is there energy involved in construction, but also the fabrication of the material resources themselves. Reusing office furniture by buying used furniture is a great way to not only save big on cost but also conserve the energy that would otherwise go into making the materials.
One item that most people do not think about is reusing land. While the key to business may be “location location location,” one should also be on the lookout for a good deal on land that is deemed unusable for crops, cattle or other common purposes but that would be adequate for your office. This may include land where wastes are buried, near an airport, etc. On that note, think about going up with your building plans rather than out. Vertical square footage is just as good as horizontal, and preserves the ecosystem around us from the adverse effects of habitat consuming sprawl. From a brand perception standpoint, a higher building can also be perceived as adding more equity to your brand than a flat warehouse styled building. Installing an office furniture system like workstations or cubicles that maximizes your usable space is also recommended as a smart approach to being environmentally conscious.
Have your architect pay attention to the prevailing wind in the area. The wind can be used to help ventilate your building if captured with the right building shape, number and angle of windows, and ventilation orientation and flow.
Similarly, natural lighting streaming in from glass walls and skylights can add a touch of style and save a lot of energy for not only lighting but heating as well. Installing an energy efficient lighting system on the interior, exterior, and parking lot can save money in the long run, cut down on energy consumption, save time replacing and hassling with inefficient, flickering bulbs.
If your business resides in a larger office building, or if you’re currently looking for a good location, try finding a way to keep necessary everyday amenities close or within your office building. This includes restaurants and cafes for business luncheons, a grocery or general store, a FedEx Kinkos or UPS (or package delivery box), maybe even a gym if you’re lucky. The idea is to save on employee commute during work hours to run errands. It’s also a good idea for networking within the office building to have this added convenience. Think about planning for shared restrooms, food courts, or even shared Wifi / conference areas with your office cohorts.
Alternative and clean energy sources are a great (but sometimes expensive way) to promote environmental friendliness. Solar panel technology, durability, efficiency, and usage have greatly increased in the past few years, so looking into it nowadays can be a profitable investment even for smaller businesses. After all, it can’t be that much harder than installing your DirectTV dish, right? While you’re up there you might as well go ahead and install some sunshine power for your office.
Lower ceilings are great at conserving. Heat and cooling costs are less, floor story height is less so more floors can be added to the building, and the radius becomes more effective for wireless servers. Using regular doors or standard revolving doors that you push instead of automatic doors is also an easy way to conserve power. Orienting office technology such as printers, computers, and peripherals in an efficient manner helps to conserve electricity, space, (and wiring to an extent). Consider if your office is laid out in a manner that balances aesthetics with practicality. Are your outlets scattered without need? Could you get away with placing 5 security cameras instead of 23 by being smarter about the layout? Ask your architect if placing elevators on the same side or plumbing through a certain area would be better at conserving resources, energy, and space.
More eco-friendly tips to come with our next article on how you can go green with your office furniture.
When considering how you can help the environment and “go green” with your business, the immediate inclination may be to look for environmental non-profits to donate to, perhaps with a tax deduction in return, too. While donating to other environmental awareness and preservation groups is to be commended, many companies are not aware of the actions they can take to amend their resources close to home towards achieving greater environmental friendliness. As a matter of integrity in this respect, and as a way to further benefit the environment, your business, and the greater good, here are some tips as to how you can incorporate the right office office furniture to promote a healthier, greener, sustainable office environment.
Greener from the Ground Up
Check into the materials of the office furniture itself. Usually a manufacturer will be able to supply the types of materials and energy consumed in the manufacturing of the office furniture. Sustainable materials are generally composed out of renewable rather than non-renewable parts, recyclable rather than non-recyclable. Ask the manufacturer if the parts are recycled and/or recyclable. Aluminums, some steel, plastics, plastic lumber, particle board, and some woods are a start. Keep in mind that determining sustainability of a product also involves assessing the durability and efficiency of the product so that resources go farther with longer product life. Here are some good trusted resources for determining sustainable materials and learning more:
- California Integrated Waste Management Board – “Green Building Materials: Sustainable Building”
- Sustainable Materials Construction
Find office furniture that is in good or mint condition, of excellent make, and durable so that it will last a long time and be able to be reused by others. This is generally easier to do than checking out the parts. Using a trusted office furniture resource is the best approach to purchasing high quality office furniture, especially potentially larger investments like workstations, cubicles, desks, desk sets, desk suites, uniform task and office chairs, conference tables, and reception desks. Even better is to find a trusted resource that inventories trusted brand name office furniture in several different styles, so that you are more likely to find a good fit for your company and for meeting standards in quality, durability and the right materials for the office furniture. As nationwide office furniture suppliers and discounters, we also offer bulk discounts and the convenience of a one stop shop.
Buy USED Office Furniture
When you buy used, you save valuable resources and help the environment.
On principle, this rule applies to all products, since everything takes
energy to manufacture or even recycle. Therefore, think about your
alternatives for buying used office furniture for your office. For one,
you can save thousands of dollars by going with an experienced and
trusted office furniture
discounter. Save even more time and money by finding an office
furniture discounter you know you can trust – CubeKing, a California-based national supplier that carries inventory of both new and used office furniture, guarantees to beat the lowest price of any legitimate offer on used office furniture. You can also comparison shop with them in that they also carry new office furniture, too. Buying used office furniture also has its aesthetic appeal too – you can stay uniform, go for a quirky look, or even integrate a ‘retro’ style into your office.
Office Furniture Disposal and Liquidation
By the same token, if you have office furniture to sell or otherwise dispose of, it’s better to call savvy office furniture liquidators before moving a finger. They can buy the office furniture off your hands and resell it to other companies who would gladly reuse it, and are more likely to buy from an office furniture reseller than hunting around at a Salvation Army. Don’t let your valuable resources go to waste! CubeKing liquidates your office furniture, disassembles, removes, stores, and transports it to where it needs to go, so you don’t have to worry about all that hassle. Bottom line? You get money back and help the environment.
Maximize Usable Work Space with Office Workstations and Cubicles
By maximizing usable work space within your office, you can actually conserve space. After all, the more employees you can fit within one office building, the less office buildings you have to have, in theory, right? CubeKing has a myriad of high quality, high-tech office cubicle and office workstation solutions to maximize your space comfortably without having to pack them in like sardines. Workstation and cubicle arrangements also tend to orient your electrical wiring and other electronic peripherals in the office in a more energy efficient manner.
Reuse space in your office for multiple purposes. With the proper office design and space planning, your eating area can also be used as a conference room, breakaway collaboration area, or even an exhibit / showcase area for your company’s products. This will free up space to fit more employees, plan for growth, and conserve resources and energy.
Anticipate Change and Plan for Growth
Incorporating more flexible office furniture can aid in reusing space for multiple purposes. It’s smart to anticipate that these purposes that you will need to accommodate in the future you may not even fathom today. Which could mean making that one small area recessed may not be as good an idea as you thought, since it could be reused as part of a larger area in the future. Movable walls and paneling instead of drywall, rolling or stackable chairs, and outlets in predictable places may help you be prepared for future growth, saving money, energy, and resources down the line. ,
Office furniture selection and arrangement along feng shui principles can prove beneficial to your company’s success, integration with nature, improving employee morale, and, you guessed it, conserving energy and helping the environment. By default, orienting your office according to a more holistic, natural inclination will raise awareness and appreciation of the environment. That’s easy. But did you know that Feng shui principles also encourage natural and efficient lighting, which takes up less energy? Feng shui also teaches us to declutter our office. That would entail choosing office storage bins, overhead cabinets, cubicle and reception desk counter tray components, bookcases, filing and pedestal cabinets, as well as desks and workstations with the right work surfaces to get rid of that pesky clutter. Remember the less clutter we have, the less we are bound to mistakenly throw away and the less we use, too. Flowing, organic shapes and ergonomics are also encouraged. Ergonomic furniture usually lasts longer and is therefore more sustainable because it is in proper alignment with our bodies and well-constructed. It also makes for an all around healthier, less stressed environment.
If you work from home, don’t feel left out. You can help the green
initiative too, through purchasing home office furniture that is used,
sustainable, or otherwise benefits the environment. Check out CubeKing’s private executive offices for ideas, and read more about everyday actions you can take to help the environment in our last blog article, coming up soon.
Next time, we’ll discuss some other ideas as to what office materials you can use to facilitate greater environmental mindedness in your office.
Last time we discussed how your company can go green with by choosing the right, eco-friendly, sustainable office furniture. In this article we’ll talk about how you can make decisions about other office materials ans supplies that provide even more benefits to the environment.
Sustainable Materials, Recycled Materials, and Eco-Friendly Materials
Choosing sustainable, recycled, recyclable, or other eco-friendly materials for your office supplies is a great way to help the environment. Be on the lookout for environmentally friendly, safe non-toxic cleaners. A prime example is eco-friendly USA-made Effective, slated to hit the shelves later this year, which has a variety of cleaning products, disinfectants, sanitizers, degreasers and multipurpose cleaners, all with a super safe formula. You should also start switching your office to fluorescent lightbulbs, not only because of greater energy efficiency, longevity, and light effectiveness, but because manufacturers are starting to phase out “regular” incandescent or halogen lightbulbs like cassette tapes were .
Restrooms & Kitchen Areas
Don’t forget about the details. The extremities of your office, such as the kitchen area and the restrooms, often get overlooked when revamping for energy efficiency and environmental friendliness. Installing low flow adjustable water faucets is a great way to save water and energy. Although they consume more electricity, hand heaters are said to be better for the environment than paper towels which consume trees and create waste. Beyond that, using cloth towels is an even better way to save since there is nothing to throw out and no energy consumed (other than periodically washing the towels). If done right, it’s also a great way to class up the place.
Sometimes, a lot of what going green whittles down to is just common sense. Turn off computers, monitors, and lights at dark, and turn down A/C and heating. If you’re concerned about security and therefore inclined to leave the lights on, the sensible thing to do would be to invest in a tighter security system. Many newer computer systems have built in sleep modes that use less energy, and climate control systems can be programmed to conserve energy at night. Wireless technology choices consume much more energy than wired technology, so choosing a layout grid that enables easy LAN wire use is preferred for energy conservatism. If you’re worried about wires hanging out everywhere, wire compartments for your workstations are a great way to conceal wires and keep them organized. When networking, also try to incorporate a redundant backup filing system. File backups can be programmed automatically. Electronic filing not only saves space, but trees too. To that end, using efficient office furniture storage solutions like bookcases, workstations with pedestal filing cabinets or overhead cabinets is a great way to effectively store the files for which you don’t have electronic files.
Plants are a good way to invite nature into the office, create greater awareness and support among employees for the going green, and spruce up your feng shui, too. Better quality printers waste less paper. And Coke machines are an easy way to save on driving to get your beverages, and can make some money back. Be sure to recycle the bottles or cans. Good for guests, too.
Next time, we’ll talk about the simple eco-friendly actions you and your company can take to make your office into a lean green office machine.
The Lean Green Office Machine – Part 5
Everybody knows that recycling helps the environment. Sadly, that knowledge doesn’t make us all do it. Instead of settling for what is convenient, being environmentally conscious demands that we reach out a little and get creative in the simple ways that we can take action to help the environment. Here are just a few ideas to get you and your coworkers started on creating a lean green office machine at your work.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
If you don’t already have blue or green recycling containers at your work, get some and put them in a prominent area – or multiple areas to be convenient – by the printers, near each pod of workstations, and in the food area. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they fill up. But don’t forget to reduce and reuse, too. Applied to paper, for example, you can limit your consumption by relying more on electronic files or reading from your monitor – thus reducing – and reuse the back of papers you print out but don’t need anymore to jot notes or messages down throughout the day. Once it’s all used up, then recycle. If you don’t have a recycling program in the community where you work, start one in your office and have a team take it to the next town. Petition your community government to start recycling, and chances are good you’ll be heard. In some states, turning in recycled goods can actually help you raise a lot of cash, too.
Every Little Bit Adds Up
Be on the lookout for other simple energy saving tasks you can do including hibernating your computer for lunch, using washable dishes instead of disposable dishwear, watering the office plants with your leftover ice in your cup, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, especially if you’re only on the second or third floor.
The outrageous gas prices should outweigh the “flexibility” that people rationalize that they need to build into their schedules by driving a car. Many corporations have this program already in effect, allowing co-workers to coordinate among themselves alternating carpools. It means less wear and tear on your car, less gas, less traffic congestion, a healthier environment, a higher likelihood that you’ll either be on time or not look so bad if you arrive late to work. Riding a bike to work is also a great alternative for those who can.
Refurbished Goods and Used Office Furniture
Many companies offer or operate on refurbished goods programs, where you turn back in your computer or phone after it is out of date. Buying used office furniture is also a smart way to simultaneously save money and help the environment. Liquidating your office furniture through an office furniture reseller is a great way to reuse after the fact, and you get some money back.
Several large office buildings have started plant a tree or rooftop greens programs, where the companies within the office contribute to create a greenery, park, or garden on the roof. You can also volunteer your time after work to clean up a polluted nearby park, river, or other natural habitat. Raise awareness by “taking class outside” and working from a covered patio area on your laptop. You can also help stimulate your co-workers’ involvement with environmental efforts by going on a corporate “green” retreat.
Walkathons for the environment and other fundraisers are good ways to contribute to the green initiative. Why not sell green products and donate from the profits to a good nature-loving cause? Think along the lines of the Red campaign for HIV drugs sent to Africa. Donations can also count as tax deductions.
A little help goes a long way, so get out there and go green! You’re welcome to comment and send us your suggestions for future articles on how your business can go green, in and out of the office.