Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Green Workplace Make-over Part II

The second part of the Dell green IT/ green workplace with Roberson Homes was to implement a few green workplace strategies that would save energy and make their office greener. Here are some of the things they did a plus few more ideas that any small company can do for little or no cost:
1. Use flat screen LCD monitors over CRT monitors. Looking at some of the before and after energy stats from Dell really drove it home for me. Robertson Homes saved 50-60% energy consumption by using CRTs vs. LCD monitors. I’ve seen numbers much higher than that.

2. Use power strips wisely. Most people use power strips to prevent power surges (or because they only have one outlet available). Consider using them to save more energy. Appliances and electronics continue to suck energy out of the wall even when they are switched off. Use a “green” power strip that will prevent this from happening. If you are really bad about remembering to turn off things, use a power strip with a timer that will automatically shut things off when you leave.

3. Use fluorescent lights. Most people know that fluorescent light bulbs are somehow more efficient than those old Edison incandescent bulbs, but I still see a lot of them hiding out in small businesses and homes. What’s the big deal? It turns out that incandescents are highly inefficient. Roughly 90% of the energy the bulb takes in is emitted in the form of heat. That means that when you turn an Edison bulb, you not only waste a lot of energy getting light out, but you need energy to cool down the room too! Fluorescents are about 75% more energy efficient than the incandescent ones and they last 10 times longer. And they come in many nice shapes too, not just the curly cue version.

4. Use green cleaning supplies. If you are using a cleaning product that smells bad, it probably is bad – for you and your co-workers. Give everybody a break and buy greener cleaning products for your office (and home) and encourage your cleaning staff to do the same.

5. Don’t just recycle, reduce and reuse. In the United States, we create around 4.5 pounds of municipal solid waste (MSW) per day, per person – this is up from 2.7 pounds per day in 1960. Though a growing number of this waste is being recycled, the amount of MSW as a whole is still going up! The better option is to not use that paper, plastic or metal at all. Besides, buying less or reusing goods saves money – not a bad idea in this economy.

6. Cut down on printing by using more technology. Think about ways to reduce paper – use electronic documents whenever possible. 100 pages not printed per day x 260 working days = $16,900 per year. Robertson Homes figured out pretty quickly that they could reduce costs by not printing as many copies of floor plans for every project.

7. Cut out paper and plastic waste. IN the U.S., we’re getting better at recycling, but there is still a tremendous amount of waste that goes into landfills every year. Think about all of those things you toss in the trash every day. Can you find a re-usable option instead? I still see a ton of plastic and Styrofoam cups as well as paper plates and plastic cutlery in offices today. Kitchens are one of the worst culprits. Choose glassware, re-usable mugs, china and silverware. If you need to-go kitchenware, consider corn-based plastic that can go into a composter after use.

For more green tips visit http://www.regeneration.org/

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