(credit: istockphoto)

(credit: istockphoto)

While much attention has been paid to reducing a family’s carbon footprint at home, positive environmental impact can also be achieved in the workplace. When business owners and employees join together to support greening the planet, cost savings are realized and a sense of teamwork fostered, while boosting both morale and productivity. Achieving this win-win vision may sound lofty but can be easy, requiring little more than the acquisition of new habits and enthusiasm for success. Want to know how to conserve energy and run a well-oiled machine simultaneously? Here are some ways to get started.

Hold a Brainstorming Session
Bring all employees, from the mailroom to the corner office, together to compare notes on where energy is being wasted and to brainstorm strategies, both large and small. Use this team meeting to create buy-in and enthusiasm for the project, keeping in mind that every idea has some level of validity and can also be a jump-off point for other ideas and solutions. Analyze your current energy outlay so ongoing success can be quantified and measured as you go. Seeing results and realizing savings can be both energizing and motivating.
Check Out Your Equipment
This may be the time to replace old clonkers with new, energy-efficient models. Analyze your current equipment from computers to refrigerators, keeping in mind that even the simplest changes may result in higher levels of energy efficiency. Shifting from desktops to laptops, and from laser printers to inkjets, can result in energy savings of over 90 percent annually. Also consider investing in printers, fax machines and copiers that automatically power down when not in use to save even more power.
Waste Not, Want Not
It may be a value system for some, or simply the start of acquiring new habits for others, but little gestures like shutting off lights and office equipment at the end of the day, or printing on both sides of the paper, can result in less waste and energy reduction with very little effort. Some offices may get enough natural light to forgo electrical lighting completely, while others may benefit from desk lamps instead of overhead fixtures. Also consider purchasing long-lasting, energy-efficient light bulbs, or solar screening for the windows.
Maintain a Comfortable Temperature
Offices, warehouses and stores are often freezing in summer and boiling in winter. Maintain a reasonable temperature without compromising employee comfort by adjusting the thermostat for maximum efficiency and by assigning simple tasks like closing window shades during peak summer hours to reduce heat. Also keep the doors to non-used spaces closed to keep air circulating where it is needed most, and turn the AC off towards the end of the business day. If your air conditioning or heating unit is antiquated, replacing them with energy-efficient models will save money in the long run. No matter what type of equipment you have, make sure it is serviced and cleaned regularly to maintain maximum efficiency.
Watch Your Water Intake
From the sprinkler system outside to the leaky faucet in the men’s room, water waste may be prevalent yet easily rectified. If you need incentive to make these changes, keep in mind that one drip per second translates into five gallons daily and compute that cost against your bottom line.
It may not impact energy usage, but recycling efforts in the office will help support your greening ideology. Make sure paper and plastic recycling receptacles are conveniently located near the water cooler and copier, as well as in the cafeteria and other highly trafficked areas.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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