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7 ways to cut costs with a greener office

By Daryll Esposito

The well-being of our planet is a universal concern, but it’s not always front-of-mind when we’re busy at work. The good news is that making greener choices at the office is not only better for the environment, it’s better for your budget too.

With Earth Day this week on April 22, it’s time to look at some environmentally friendly improvements.

Some common repurposing and recycling advice is not appropriate for a medical office, where confidentiality requires paper to be properly shredded for safe disposal. Infection control requires single-use items, often made of non-biogradeable plastic, and the pandemic has only increased the need for these disposable items. On the other hand, the move to electronic health records greatly reduces paper use.

7 simple, sustainable and cost-saving steps that any office can take:

  1. Turn off electronics at night. You don’t pay your employees while they aren’t working, so why pay for off-duty equipment? Each second of energy used while the office is closed means more dollars wasted. At closing make it a habit for everyone to turn off their monitors, printers, desk lamps, and all nonessential electronics. Consider power strips that can be easily switched off. Be especially aware of energy-hogs like space heaters and copy machines. If computers must stay on, make sure they are in power-saving mode. And when computers, printers and other peripherals need replacing, dispose of them responsibly by recycling with a local service or donating to an organization in need—but they need to be safely stripped of any data to prevent a HIPAA breach.
  2. Take advantage of technology. The modern age has given us some excellent tools to improve efficiency and communication. Using smart-plugs in office outlets allows you to turn off devices remotely or schedule a daily power-down. Motion-activated lighting in common areas like conference rooms can ensure that lights are turned off when not in use. Use remote communication platforms like Zoom and Slack for meetings and workplace coordination. This reduces transportation needs, saving time, money and fuel consumption. The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically elevated the importance of these technologies, and they’re here to stay.
  3. Use CFL and LED lights. These lighting technologies offer an easy greener option for most situations. Use CFLs in desk and floor lamps and try LEDs for your outdoor lighting. According to the Department of Energy, these types of bulbs last up to 25 times longer than incandescent and halogen bulbs, which means less money spent on replacements. They also use far less energy, cutting down on the electric bill. Remember that CFL bulbs contain mercury and should be handled and disposed of properly.
  4. Put a sign next to your recycling bin. Recycling is one of the easiest ways for individuals to reduce their impact on the environment, but often people don’t bother because they aren’t sure about the rules. Make it easy by taping up a simple graphic sign showing what goes in and what doesn’t. Recycling options vary by state, and you can often get free signs from the municipal office. Although recycling in the US is far from perfect, it still has a measurable impact.
  5. Save water. The convenience of plumbing makes it easy to forget that water is a valuable (and costly) resource. Put up friendly reminders in bathrooms and break areas about the importance of making sure faucets are fully turned off after use. Be aware of any minor plumbing issues that can result in major waste, such as toilets that continue to run after flushing. A running toilet may seem like little more than an irritating noise, but it can waste as much as 22 gallons per day. For offices paying a monthly water bill, the increase can be significant.
  6. Drink better coffee. Coffee: for many it’s the lifeblood of the office and essential fuel for the workday. Unfortunately, a lot of coffee production involves deforestation and pollution, not to mention fair trade and workers’ rights concerns. Coffee pods create significant waste and pollution. But there’s an easy way to enjoy your favorite beverage and feel good about it. Stock your breakroom with organic and fairtrade-certified brands. There are many producers around the world following good standards without sacrificing quality. In fact, organic and fairtrade coffees are some of the tastiest you can get.
  7. Let nature work for you. Instead of turning on all the lights on a nice day, open up those blinds and let the sunlight in. This helps save on electrical costs, improves mood, and supplies a daily dose of vitamin D. If it’s a warm day, resist the urge to crank the A/C and instead use energy-efficient fans. If possible, open some windows to improve air circulation. A natural breeze can be very invigorating, and more energy means more productivity.









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