Going Green at Work

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Two months ago we published a post on how to reduce your carbon footprint and lead a more environmentally friendly life. It mostly focused on things we could do in the home and in our personal lives, like eat less meat, drive less and carpool with others, or unplug every appliance in our home that has a standby mode, but one thing we didn’t talk about was how to go green at work. With most of us spending at least 8 hours a day/5 days a week working, our jobs take up a huge amount of our time. Therefore it stands to reason that we should not only try to be friendlier towards the environment in our private lives but also while we’re at work.

Building facade

 

Optimise your computer setup and usage

The most important work tool for a huge number of people is their computer, and some even use multiple machines and monitors. If you’re working on a laptop the first thing you can do is tune the energy settings to medium or low power mode to extend battery life as much as possible. Then, make sure to almost completely deplete the battery before charging, and when you do, charge it up to 100% and unplug the device. This way you’ll de getting the most out of the battery and charging it only when it is essential. Don’t use screensavers or any other type of lock screen, instead set your computer to go into sleep mode after a few minutes of inactivity, and make sure to turn off your monitor (or monitors, depending on your setup) whenever you’re going to take an extended break. If you have a choice between working on a desktop and a laptop choose the later, as laptops are much more energy efficient and consume less power overall.

Green your hosting needs

Computer servers are surprisingly energy intensive. Running dozens of CPU cores and RAM sticks and maintaining them all cool under high load requires a lot of electricity. If you have extensive hosting needs now you can choose to hire from green providers, companies that power their servers using renewable energy and which participate in carbon offset programs to reduce their environmental impact. Green hosting is becoming a big deal lately, with many of the world’s largest technology companies building their own solar and wind farms to power server parks and data centres.

Use less paper

How much paper does anyone really need to use nowadays? Chances are most of the things you’re printing out or writing down can be digitised instead. As nice as glossy, pristine, white paper is pretty and satisfying to work with, recycled paper serves exactly the same function and is more environmentally friendly. Try to re-use every sheet as much as possible, for non-essential documents you can easily print or write on both sides instead of using new sheets constantly. Instead of using paper post-it notes to make physical lists and representations consider getting whiteboards instead, as they can last more or less indefinitely as long as you keep them clean and make sure to use the right kind of markers. And speaking of markers, you can now buy refillable ones that use water-soluble, environmentally friendly ink too.

Rationalise your lighting use

If you work in a space with a lot of windows and you get a decent amount of sun during the day you can use less artificial lighting. It may not be as bright but unless you work in a north-facing space or your windows are tinted natural light from the sun should be sufficient for at least a few hours every day. You can also improve on this by replacing all regular light bulbs with LEDs or CFLs, which consume up to 75% less energy.

Reduce heating and cooling bills

You can reduce energy expenditure on heating and cooling very easily too. In the hotter months of the year close the blinds or the curtains to avoid direct sunlight into your workspace during the hottest hours of the day. This may appear to clash with the previous point on maximising use of natural light, but a large air conditioning system turned on at maximum uses more electricity than a few light bulbs, so you can do both at different times of the day. In winter keep the curtains drawn and blinds open to get as much sun into the space as possible. Finally, you should replace large, centralized heating and cooling systems with modular, portable ones. That way you will only be warming or cooling the spaces you need as opposed to meeting rooms and other spaces that see very little use.

Work from home (if you can)

If your job allows you to work from home and you want to reduce your carbon footprint this is one of the best ways to do so. Commercial and work spaces consume practically the same amount of energy as homes overall, even though these outnumber them by over 20 to 1. The energy you’ll save from not commuting and not using all the office appliances makes a big difference.

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