Short Steps to a Greener Office

July 15, 2010 View all articles in Office

The average American spend much more of their time inside than outside. Unfortunately, many of us also spend more waking hours of the work week in an office than we do in our own home. Because of that, being green in our own home is not enough, because a significant part of our consumption of energy and materials takes place in and around work. Here are a few quick and easy steps to making your “daily grind” more eco friendly.


Don't use Screensavers

  • Turn off computers, monitors, printers, and fax machines when your workday is over, or activate sleep-modes so they will save energy on their own. (Screen savers do not save energy)
  • Use blinds to conserve heat or keep heat out instead of air conditioning or heating.
  • Use a programmable setback thermostat to save energy on non-workdays or nights.
  • Get a laptop! Some studies estimate that a laptop uses only 25% of the energy a desktop uses.
  • Turn lights off or get sensors that turn the lights off when no movement is detected for ten minutes.
  • Studies show that sunlight increase productivity, so if most of the office work is done in the day, install windows, or even solar tubes for the basement areas.
  • Get new energy efficient lights.


  • Scratch PaperPrint on both side of the paper. Even low-cost printers can do this.
  • Use misprinted pages or envelopes for scratch paper.
  • Read documents on-screen before deciding to print.
  • Buy in large quantity so as to limit the packaging paper.
  • Have a separate bin only for recycling paper by every employee’s desk. This enables more recycling with less time sorting.


  • Buy soy-based ink, it has more vibrant colors, comparable price with less ink needed per print job, supports American crops, and makes paper easier to recycle.
  • Avoid single use items.
  • When replacing office supplies, look for Energy Star qualified products.
  • Buy untreated wool, easy to clean, lasts a long time, and has few-to-no harmful chemicals.
  • Check out our green office chairs article when replacing chairs.


Bike Rack

  • Offer carpoolers closer parking spaces as an incentive.
  • Provide bike racks outside the office.
  • Consider a four day, ten hour work week instead of the traditional five day, eight hour week.
  • Give someone the job of seeing these things get done. The money that you will save on energy and paper should more than make up for the cost of the time they put into being the “eco-police”.
  • Set goals. Having a realistic objective will motivate you to insure that you get where you want to be.


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