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How to Make Your Workplace Eco-friendly

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Consumers and staff are increasingly preferring sustainable businesses. Helping the planet is a worthy cause and it could also help you reduce costs and increase your bottom line at the same time.

It’s no wonder then that so many businesses are keen to show how they’re trying to limit their carbon emissions.

The benefits of switching to sustainable business practices are sure to outweigh any initial investment.

But where do you even start?

Creating sustainable goals, green policies, and making small changes can go a long way to save you money and save the planet.

 

What is an Eco-Friendly Workplace?

An eco-friendly workplace is about trying to make your office as sustainable as possible to protect our environment.

This can be through design, culture, and trying to have zero carbon emissions which means for every carbon emission you produce, you offset this.

 

Why go Green in the Office?

There are many benefits to being eco-friendly besides reducing our impact on the planet and trying to reduce our contributions to climate change.

 

Attract Better Staff

There is a current shortage of workers with the highest number of job vacancies since records began.

This means candidates have their pick of jobs. So, why should they choose your business?

Being an eco-friendly business could give your workplace an advantage in hiring and retaining staff.

Over half of the UK’s workforce say sustainability is an important factor in choosing a company to work for. With 40% of UK workers disappointed by their companies lack of effort regarding sustainability.

Millennials make up the biggest chunk of the workforce and 83% of them say they would be more loyal to a company that helps towards social and environmental issues.

 

Attract More Customers

Not only are staff concerned about green businesses, but consumers are too.

With 70% of people wanting to know how brands are addressing social and environmental issues and 70% of consumers would be willing to pay 5% more for “green” products.

 

Save Money

There are many ways that being environmentally friendly can reduce your business costs.

Using green products can mean only buying one of them because they’re reusable which saves money on office supplies.

Green products also tend to last longer. For example, eco cleaning products tend to go further which means you don’t have to order them as much, saving transportation emissions, and saving you money.

Your business can also save money on waste management. It costs less to recycle than to send things to landfill. Recycling more can mean using a smaller bin or fewer collections for your landfill waste which will save you money.

 

Tax Benefits

There are several tax schemes that aim to encourage businesses to be more eco-friendly.

Your business can get 100% on first-year capital allowances spending on energy efficient machinery.

The government also has an energy efficiency scheme but you will need to monitor and report your carbon emissions.

 

Improve Air Quality and Increase Staff Productivity

 

Indoor air pollution can be up to five times worse than outdoor air. An eco-friendly designed workplace should include greenery which can take carbon dioxide out of the air.

When there is less oxygen in the air it can lead to a less productive workforce. Businesses can lose £77 billion a year due to decreased productivity.

 

Are there any disadvantages of being a green business?

It can be hard to measure your success because some things aren’t tangible. This may make it frustrating to see any impact after taking time and resources to implement green strategies. 

If staff aren’t interested in taking part if can seem like trying to encourage a dog to swallow his worm tablets. Instead of giving staff more things to do, you should create green initiatives that benefit staff.

You may need some initial investment for some of your green schemes but it shouldn’t be too long before you reap the long-term cost advantages of these.

 

Creating Sustainability Objectives

  • Firstly, you need to measure what your carbon footprint is now.

If you don’t have this data, you will need to collect this first over a number of months before moving on to the next step.

You can then use a tool to calculate your carbon footprint such as the one created by WWF or the Carbon Trust.

  • Now you know what your carbon footprint is, you will need to decide on how you are going to reduce it.
  • When you know your footprint and how you’re going to reduce it, create sustainability goals to guide you in decreasing your carbon emissions.

Make sure your goals are SMART; specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, and timed.

 

Green Office Policy

Once you have created your sustainability objectives, you can incorporate this into a green office policy.

Just like a clean desk policy or any other policy for your workplace, create a document stating the reason for the policy, your goals, and how you are going to achieve them.

You can use a template that’s already done for you.

You can then email your policy to staff to make them aware of it or even put it on your website to show your commitment to the planet.

Or even better, you could create a sustainability page for your website. A lot of businesses have these and by making it transparent to consumers, you could gain a competitive edge.

 

How Can I Make my Office More Eco-friendly?

For everything you do in your business, think to yourself, ‘how can I make this more sustainable?’

This will give you ideas and encouraging your staff to think like this too creates a culture of sustainability.

 

Sustainable Office Furniture

 

Every item in your office, gives you the opportunity to choose sustainable products and suppliers.

When selecting office furniture, it’s important to consider how your products were made. Everything from the raw materials, the production methods, and transport of the goods should be carried out in an environmentally friendly way.

Choose ones that are made of recycled materials. If you are buying wooden items such as desks, check where the raw materials are sourced from Responsibly Managed Forests using the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Also look for a retailer with an ISO 14001 certification for Environmental Management System which means they have followed a framework and that their environmental impact is being measured.

While not long ago, sustainable options meant not a lot of choice, there are plenty of options now with innovative solutions.

Such as the HAG Capisco 8106 office chair which has foam padding made from recycled car bumpers and recycled household plastic for the chair and packaging.

 

Remember to dispose of old furniture responsibly. Your local council may be able to give advice on this or you could give the items away to community groups which can help with positive publicity.  

 

Sustainable Office Supplies and Stationery

Everything you use such as pens, pencils, and notebooks, can all be sustainable by choosing recycled materials.

Better yet, stop using notebooks and go paperless. Keep your notes on your computer and don’t print anything you don’t need.

 

Sustainability Officer or Team

With every plan in business, it’s best to have someone or a team responsible for ensuring the plan is carried out.

Ask for staff to volunteer or give managers responsibility for holding their teams accountable for creating a green workplace.

Without anyone to take responsibility for green awareness then you won’t get very far.

 

Power Saving

 

There are many ways to save lighting, heating, and electric. Think about installing renewable energy sources, remember you may get a grant to help you do this.

If installing a whole new renewable energy source system isn’t possible, think about replacing old heating systems. Newer models will be more energy efficient and save you money.

What about turning the thermostat down? I’m sure we’ve all been told by our mothers to put on a jumper instead of daring to touch the thermostat.

Households could potentially save up to £128 over a year by turning the thermostat down by just one degree. Imagine how much money your business could save.

The use of technology in business continues to grow and smart appliances are a great way to monitor your energy and save you money.

There’s tech that knows when the room is empty and automatically adjusts your settings, or systems that are password protected so only authorised personnel can adjust the settings.

 

Green Commuting

 

We all love the convenience of our cars but your car alone emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. This not only contributes to climate change, but it can impact your health. Breathing particle matter can cause lung issues such as asthma and other serious respiratory illnesses.

With the price of petrol, it shouldn’t be hard to encourage car sharing or using alternative means of transport.

Your work could start a bike to work scheme. Some employers offer subsidies towards buying a bike.

Maybe you offer these schemes already. But do your employees know? Make sure you advertise any green initiatives and provide the right resources such as bike racks.

 

Recycling

 

It costs more to send waste to landfill than it does to recycle it. Businesses have to pay landfill tax which increased in 2020 to £94.15 per tonne. This means a small business could spend around £384 a year on waste disposal.

Make sure there are recycling bins at your workplace and make it clear what goes in them.

 

Fix Leaking Taps

 

It may seem like a small issue but you could waste 18 litres of water a day if your tap is leaking.

This is not only a terrible waste of water, but it could cost you an extra £124 a month.

Hiring a plumber to fix this may seem like an expense but it’s less than what a leaky tap will cost.

 

Working Remotely

 

An obvious solution to creating a greener workforce is to let staff work at home. There’s no office to heat and light, so you’re saving money.

The pandemic greatly advanced the move to working at home with many businesses staying that way. It could also help attract job candidates because the flexibility helps them juggle their work and life commitments.

 

LED Bulbs

 

Simply switching your lightbulbs could save you more than £232 on your energy bills. Gone are the days when you switched on your energy saving bulb and it took about a year to give off any kind of brightness.

It will cost you money to switch but the long-term reduction on costs will outweigh this quickly.

 

Award Green Behaviour

 

Give awards to members of staff who are following green initiatives or creating green ideas that the business can implement.

Make the rewards sustainable such as reusable coffee cups.

Eco-friendly Office Cleaning Products

Selecting sustainable cleaning products is another way for your business to be greener.

Firstly, you should check the cleaning product supplier is sustainable. For example, Taste For Hygiene ensure they pack items in appropriate size boxes meaning there is no wasted space on their vehicles. This means less vehicles on the roads which helps reduce carbon emissions.

Many businesses now have sustainability pages which you can check to see if they are applying sustainable practices.

 

Beware of Greenwashing

There have been many cases of “greenwashing”, when a business misleads or pretends, they are sustainable when in reality, it’s a different story.  

So how do you know if they’re actually making a difference?

If a company is greenwashing, they tend to use vague statements and buzzwords.

Do they have actual statistics on how they are decreasing their carbon footprint? What activities are they doing that’s making a difference?

As well as checking the business itself is sustainable, check the products too. Read the label and see if they are using harsh chemicals, or if only part of the packaging is recyclable.

Cleaning materials such as microfibre cloths are better for the environment than paper towels because they are reusable, and they are better at reducing bacteria.

Green cleaning products not only protect our planet, but they tend to last longer and help you reduce costs.

Studies show sustainable products are also better for your health and they reduce the odds of health symptoms.

 

Green Cleaning Service

If you hire a cleaning service or are thinking of hiring one, make sure your cleaning service is sustainable. This helps you cut costs because green products tend to last longer and are better for employee’s health.

Using sustainable services in your business, makes you look good to staff and customers.

 

How do you Encourage Employees to go Green?

First of all, you want to make your employees aware that your business is prioritising being sustainable. Make it clear what you are hoping to achieve and why it is important.

Emphasis how being greener is a benefit to them, for example, a car sharing scheme means they get a break from driving and save petrol and money.

Involve your staff and ask them for ideas on how to be greener.

Encourage or reward employees for doing courses on sustainability. There are free courses, such as the waste course by Udemy.

Use signs around the office because studies have shown signs can improve compliance. Stick pictures on the bins to show what goes in each or posters encouraging your green initiatives.

 

What is the Most Sustainable Office Building in the World?

 

Many regard the Bloomberg European headquarters as the most sustainable office building in the world.

Their office in London achieved a 98.5% BREEAM sustainability assessment score.

Michael R. Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg L.P. said, “We believe that environmentally-friendly practices are as good for business as they are for the planet. We set out to push the boundaries of sustainable office design, a place that excites and inspires our employees.”

Their office building has certainly helped their business as they save 73% in water and 35% in energy.

Some of the features of their green building are integrated ceiling panels that combine heating, cooling, and lighting.

They use rainwater from the roof and have a zero-landfill policy which incorporates recycling, composting, or converting waste to energy.

Some argue that while the Bloomberg building has the highest ever BREEAM score, it’s still not the most sustainable. It still uses fossil fuels unlike the Bullitt building in Seattle which uses solar power and heat pumps.

There are a number of office buildings around the world which have also been designed with eco-friendly features such as harvesting rainwater, low flush toilets, and producing their own electricity via photovoltaic cells.

While some of these are only possible when building from scratch, some can be implemented to your business.

There are many ways in which your business can be more sustainable. It may seem overwhelming but start small. Any change to become an eco-friendlier business will benefit your bottom line and the planet.

 

Get a FREE healthy space badge when you pledge to prioritise the wellbeing of staff and create safe spaces. You can display this on your premises!

 

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