16 Environmentally Friendly Office Space Ideas

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Tesla is a relatively new automobile company, focused solely on building electric cars. It’s one of the world’s more recognizable environmentally friendly brands; its current market cap is north of $30 billion. The success of Tesla marks a larger transition in green business. Green is no longer viewed as a niche market for hippies, it’s something that everyone can benefit from.

When it comes to going green, we get lots of messages about what we can do to reduce our carbon footprint. Ride your bike or public transportation, eat less meat, recycle, install motion sensing light switches, and so on. But what about in the office? Is there anything we can do to make for a more  environmentally friendly office? Yes, in fact, there is! There are multiple ways your office can become more environmentally friendly. Here’s what we recommend.

Lease a LEED Certified Office Space Design

The U.S. Green Building Council created a scoring system to rate how green a building is. The scoring system is called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). If you’re looking to rent office that was built to be environmentally friendly, start by researching if the building is LEED certified.  

A building can’t just proclaim to be LEED certified for marketing reasons. Contractors have to apply for the certification, which consists of five primary categories and one bonus category:

  • Sustainable Site
  • Water Conservation
  • Energy and Atmosphere
  • Materials and Resources
  • Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Green Design Innovations (Bonus)

The highest potential LEED score is 110 Based on the number of points a building earns, it will receive one of four ratings: Certified (40+), Silver (50+), Gold (60+), and Platinum (80+). The points are weighted based on environmental impact.

Achieving a high LEED certification score can be done by incorporating three green-friendly factors; green construction methods, sustainable materials, and energy-efficient systems into the building process.

For example, an efficient heating, venting, and cooling system will have a huge impact on the overall energy consumption of the building. This will score a lot of LEED points for your eco-friendly office space design.

A LEED certified office space does more than just make your company seem like it’s environmentally friendly. It can help save energy. The higher the LEED certification score, the greater the potential energy savings. The energy savings from a newly constructed LEED Silver building is 7%, compared to national building stock, while Gold or Platinum save 24%.

If you want to build an environmentally friendly office, start with leasing a LEED certified building.

Buy Eco-Friendly Office Furniture

How can your office furniture make your office more environmentally friendly? A big way is buy sourcing from environmentally friendly office furniture manufacturers.

Office furniture manufacturing can be certified by third-parties, like the LEED system. Organizations like BIFMA and SCS are leading the way to more eco-friendly manufacturing.

If you’re looking for online shops that have environmentally friendly office furniture, you can visit stores like:

  • Steelcase (Scroll about halfway down to see the green ratings)
  • Viesso (focussed on low impact and natural materials)
  • The Ultimate Green Store (Most of the product descriptions contain info about what makes the product green.)

Additionally, SCS provides a powerful search tool for finding environmentally friendly office furniture. Each item has been analyzed and given a rating based on the impact the item has both during manufacturing and also during it’s lifetime.

Another great way to help the environment is to buy used furniture. Not only will you save money, but by buying used furniture, you’re making even less of an environmental impact.

Use Environmentally Friendly Office Products

Products like the type of paper in your printer, your cleaning solution, and the light bulbs you use in your lamps all play a role in how environmentally friendly your office is.

If you’re stuck thinking about what products you could replace to be more eco-friendly in your office, here’s 8 office products to consider adding to your office supplies.

  1. Reusable Pens - Stop throwing away pens and start using reusable pens. 
  2. LED Lamps & Bulbs - LED lamps use much less power than traditional incandescent or even compact fluorescent bulbs. 
  3. Buy Remanufactured Ink and Toner Cartridges - Each reused cartridge saves 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic, and half a gallon of oil. Plus it costs about 15% less than new cartridges. 
  4. Install Low-Flow Aerators - Reduce the amount of water your company uses with low-flow aerators. 
  5. Replace Paper Towels with Cloth - Paper towels add up fast. Instead of continually dumping them into the garbage, pick out nice cloth towels, similar to what you have at home, and use them at the office. 
  6. Recycled Paper - If you must still use pen and paper (and using refillable pens) then it’s recommended to buy recycled paper. 
  7. Rechargeable Batteries - Having your batteries die is a pain, but so is throwing them out and buying new ones. Instead, buy rechargable batteries and swap the dead batteries with fresh ones. 
  8. Coffee Maker - Avoid using one-serving pods of coffee for your daily cup of coffee. These disposable containers only increase the amount of waste your company will produce on a daily basis. Switch to a batch brew and help save money and waste.

Promote Green Office Practices

If you want an environmentally friendly office space design, it’s going to take more than just a green HVAC system and reusable pens. Implementing these five green practices within your company on a daily basis will have a positive, long-term impact on the environment.

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - Recycling is just the start. Be conscious and reduce the amount of paper your company uses. Make sure to use both sides. Provide reusable water bottles for everyone instead of disposable cups. Small actions like these will add up in the long-run.
  2. Go Digital - Do you really need a physical calendar for your meeting room reservation system? Or can you get better use from a digital conference room reservation system? Use digital products when you can to eliminate unnecessary waste. 
  3. Telecommute or Use Public Transit - Does your entire team need to be in the office at all times? Lower employee carbon imprints with the option to telecommute (even part-time). If you’d still prefer your team be in the office, offer incentives to use public transportation. 
  4. Business Casual Attire - A business casual dress code can actually make your office more eco-friendly. A more formal dress code requires suits, which are often times made of wool. A suit requires dry cleaning, which releases harmful chemicals into the air. Casual attire offers more cotton options, which just needs to be washed in a traditional washer. 
  5. Power Down at Night - Offices waste a lot of energy when machines are shut off but still plugged in. Standby power is unnecessary and costs you money. Having your entire company unplug at the end of the night is difficult to implement. But a program like NightWatchman can automatically shut down unused devices at night and save companies thousands on their energy bill.

Being more environmentally conscience doesn’t mean you have to dust off your bike and ride to work (but it’s a great start!). There are plenty of things you can do at the office to make your life more environmentally friendly. Change a few office behaviors and swap out wasteful products for cleaner alternatives and you’ll be making an impact in no time.