7 Ways to Create a Sustainable Office

When the topic of sustainability in the workplace comes up, it most often involves the construction of commercial office buildings. Installing larger windows, providing green spaces on rooftops, and handling greywater are common issues that modern building construction techniques seek to address. 

However, you can do plenty of things to promote sustainability in your existing office space. These seven simple actions will provide a good starting point for transforming your office into a more eco-friendly environment.

1. Encourage Alternatives to the Daily Drive

When you want to build a more sustainable office, you should begin by finding out how your team gets to work. When each employee drives a personal car to the office, that waste of fuel and contribution to air pollution become excessive. 

Some sustainable office ideas for getting your employees to work include:

  • Commuting together in one vehicle
  • Taking public transportation
  • Riding a bicycle 
  • Walking
  • Trading up for an electric vehicle

Take action by incentivizing some of these alternatives. For example, you can install bicycle racks in your office parking lot or offer a monthly bonus for carpooling or taking public transportation. Help your employees find carpooling partners by connecting those who live near one another.

2. Reduce Waste in Break Areas and Kitchens

Three employees using personal drinking mugs in the kitchen for a more sustainable office.

A major area that needs attention when creating a sustainable office is the kitchen or breakroom. Food consumption generates multiple types of waste, from organic food remnants to plastic containers. You can address this issue by taking a few sustainable kitchen tips for the home and adapting them for your office’s kitchen area.

Supply dishware and eating utensils to eliminate single-use plastic and paper products. Install recycling bins and include a compost bin. Buy staple items (coffee, salt, pepper, etc.) in bulk.

Looking for more sustainable office ideas? This video offers some great suggestions:

Pro Tip: Designate one employee each week to maintain clean break areas for better sustainability in the workplace. A weekly fridge cleaning and defrosting will extend the lifetime of the refrigerator and boost its energy efficiency.

3. Maintain Tighter Control Over Power Consumption

A tip that carries over well from home office remodeling practices is to look at the ways in which your office wastes energy. Just as you would unplug your power strips and electronics in your home office at night, your employees should do the same with office equipment. Even when the machines are fully powered down, they are still draining energy in small amounts.

Other things you can do to promote a more sustainable office include keeping your HVAC system at a consistent temperature. Keeping the system at 65 degrees in the winter and 75 in the summer will save energy and reduce wear and tear. 

Keep window shades open during the day to reduce the need for artificial lighting. Make sure your lighting fixtures use LED or fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs. 

4. Reduce the Use of Paper to a Bare Minimum

Common green living tips always include eliminating the use of paper. While you may not be able to completely do away with paper documents in your office, you can reduce the need for paper. A sustainable office should store most of its documents digitally.

Rather than maintaining rows of filing cabinets, you can save space by printing documents only as you need them. Use digital signatures to maintain records without having to store hard copies that you might never look at again. 

Pro Tip: You can also promote sustainability in the workplace by finding a stationary provider that uses recycled paper. Printing your business cards and other marketing materials on recycled paper is more eco-friendly and sustainable.

5. Eliminate the Use of Caustic Chemicals in the Office

An employee uses eco-friendly cleaners to clean their desk and support sustainability in the workplace.

Every sustainable office should address the use of cleaning chemicals. In the past, caustic chemicals were commonly used to get a deeper clean and for sanitation purposes. However, products containing all-natural ingredients are just as effective. 

Look for green cleaning products to replace bleach, ammonia, and other hazardous chemicals. 

6. Make Water Consumption Environmentally Friendly

Everyone in your office needs access to drinking water, but you should discourage the practice of bringing bottled water to the workplace. Single-use water bottles don’t have a place in a sustainable office. Instead, install a water dispenser. 

You can provide personalized mugs with your company’s logo on them to encourage the consumption of water from the dispenser. In addition to promoting greater sustainability in the workplace, you’ll also market your business via the personalized mugs.

7. Keep Up With Your Office Building’s Maintenance

Modern contractors use sustainable construction trends to build offices that are better for the environment from the ground up. In addition to utilizing a more eco-friendly structure, maintenance is essential to supporting sustainability in the workplace

Without proper and consistent maintenance, those sustainable construction features will fail, leading to damage and waste.

Pro Tip: You’ll maintain a more sustainable office by keeping up with HVAC maintenance, roof inspections, and similar essential services. Staying up to date with building maintenance will also save you money on repairs and equipment replacements.

Practice Sustainability Every Day

Some sustainable office suggestions and tips are easy to implement. Others will require practice and daily reminders, such as ensuring your employees are unplugging at the end of each day. While forgetfulness will occur, daily reminders will help reinforce these new practices until they become unconscious habits for all of your employees.

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