A More Sustainable Workplace is Easier than you think

Laptop, tablet, notebooks and desk material outside on grass

Written by Anna Sommers Director Building Relations & Facilities, IGS Energy

Anna Sommers

Anna oversees IGS’ nearly 30 properties. She manages space planning and construction projects and supervises the facility operations and related engineering maintenance. As a LEED Green Associate and an active Green Spot Member, she focuses on sustainable design. She works to increase the efficient use of energy, water, and materials in the buildings. This includes all things that reduce impacts on human health and the environment for the entire lifecycle of a building.

The benefits to the environment are enough of a reason for most organizations to be sustainable.

But the potential budget savings can make a sustainable workplace even more attractive. Being sustainable simply means reducing the negative impact to the environment. While “being sustainable” sounds simple enough, many businesses (large and small) simply aren’t sure how to get started. In many cases, businesses make a few changes but then run out of ideas and get stuck. Luckily, there are many green initiatives that organizations can put in place that can make a difference!

Initiative #1: Waste Reduction

  • Do a waste audit. Take a look at what is in your garbage, recycling, and compost bins. Ask yourself, “Is there something we can do to avoid using or purchasing that product?”
  • Reuse what you can. Single-use items are one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions (29%). Anne Krieghoff, the recycling manager at UC Irvine, suggests that we should prioritize reducing and reusing over recycling. In this video, the Climate Lab offers key tips for waste reduction when it comes to food packaging waste.
  • Recycle all that you can. Did you know you can recycle carpet? If your business is in the process of a remodel, work with your contractor to add recycling of your old carpet into the budget.
  • Host a recycle day. You can set up E-waste Recycle Days at your business. Ask employees to bring in any old or used electronics to be recycled at work and provide some incentive for participants.
  • Recycle or donate old office furniture. There are many organizations and schools that will take gently-used office furniture. Check out furniture banks in your area for donation processes.
  • Be smart about printing. Set your printer settings to automatically print on both sides of the paper when there are multiple pages. Only print out what you need. If you are coordinating a meeting, send the agenda ahead of time or have it projected.

Initiative #2: Energy Efficiency – Promoting better building energy performance

  • Keep your building temperature at a seasonally-appropriate level. Encourage employees to layer clothing so you can avoid using more energy in the building to keep the building temperate.
  • Turn off lights when they’re not being used. Whether you install motion-detector light switches, or simply encourage employees to flip switches when they leave a room or an office, turning the lights off can make a major difference in the amount of energy your business consumes.
  • Have computers and monitors set to sleep after 15 minutes of non-use. When computers and monitors aren’t in use, they can be put to sleep to reduce electricity consumption. Encourage employees to shut down completely at the end of the day.

Initiative #3: Employee Engagement

  • Establish a green team! A green team will give employees an opportunity to contribute to the development and implementation of your sustainability initiatives.
  • Create sustainability challenges. Everyone loves a little competition. Encourage departments or floors to challenge each other to be more sustainable.
  • Implement a quarterly recognition program for employees that champion sustainability.
  • Put up signs in the kitchen and bathrooms highlighting water conservation activities.
  • Provide sustainability tours that point out sustainable building features.

Initiative #4: Go green with IGS Energy

Renewable, sustainable energy is the future. And at IGS Energy, we aim to meet the energy needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future. With a green electricity product from IGS Energy, you can feel good knowing that your business's energy is coming from 100% renewable power.

Check out sustainability tips for your everyday life