Avery’s Green Week started in 2009 as a response to research that showed employees in the UK felt they struggled to be environmentally friendly at work due to a lack of proper facilities. The week was started to empower employees to ‘champion change’ in the office by raising awareness of how to become more environmentally friendly.
In 2021, the Avery Green Office Week changed to become a month-long event that included environmental solutions for employees working from the office as well as those working from home.
Whether you join in with Avery’s event this year or want to hold your own green week at any time of the year, we’ve got some great ways to make your office space more environmentally friendly.
Green Week – tips, ideas and advice for the office
There are small, everyday tweaks that you can make in your office space to become more sustainable, whether you’re an entrepreneur with a small start-up office or you’re running a business with tens of employees.
Turn off the lights
One of the easiest changes you can make is to ensure the lights are turned off at the end of the day. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the UK wastes £170 million a year by leaving lights on unnecessarily. When you rent a serviced office, the utilities are included in the cost so you might not think twice about this as it won’t have an impact on your bills.
However, the energy savings of turning the lights off at the end of the day could be significant. The Energy Saving Trust found that turning off lights when they’re not needed could reduce CO₂ emissions by 171 kilograms per year. So consider whether you need to turn on the lights during the summer months, and always be sure to turn them off at the end of the day. Every little helps to save a lot of energy.
Turn off appliances
Similarly, energy savings can be made by ensuring computers, printers, and other devices are turned off at the end of the day. Cambridge University found that, by setting all university PC monitors to go to sleep after 10 minutes instead of 30 minutes, they could save more CO₂ than is produced by a plane flying from London to Paris, and save enough energy to keep all the street lights in Cambridge running for four nights.
The same study found that when photocopiers are switched on all day, but only used for 20% of the time, £320 is wasted on electricity every year. When a photocopier is left on overnight, it can go through enough energy to power over 1,500 copies. So, again, turning your appliances off overnight or when they’re not needed is a small change that could have a big impact on how green your office space is.
Recycle, recycle, recycle
Changeworks, a recycling management service in Scotland, reported that around 50% of the material they collect as business waste should have been recycled. What’s more, Resource Efficient Scotland found that businesses in Scotland spent, on average, £7,000 on waste management every year.
Becoming more mindful of what material you recycle from your office waste could not only save your business money but is also beneficial for the environment. Make it easy for your employees to recycle with clearly marked bins in multiple areas of your office.
Consider offering a Cycle to Work scheme
Cycle to Work schemes like Cyclescheme encourage employees to cycle to work rather than driving, reducing your business’s carbon footprint. Employees pay for their new bike and equipment via a salary sacrifice scheme, meaning they save tax on their new purchase.
You can make cycling to work more attractive to your staff by making it easier for them. Consider renting an office space with showers so employees aren’t put off by a sweaty cycle to work. You could also provide small lockers for personal storage, so they can leave essentials and spare clothing in the office overnight rather than carrying everything they need on their commute. If it’s not possible to offer showers and changing rooms, you could instead offer a corporate, reduced-rate membership for your local gym so your employees can use their facilities.
Be mindful when filling the kettle
If you can install a hot water tap in your office kitchen, it’s a more efficient way of making cups of tea, as many people fill the kettle with cold water rather than just adding the amount they need. The Energy Saving Trust found that if everyone boiled only the water they needed every time they used the kettle, enough electricity could be saved in a year to power all the street lights in the UK for nearly seven months.
Ask yourself: does this really need to be printed?
Before you hit the printer icon on that document, ask yourself whether it needs to be printed, or if you can simply read the document online instead. If you really do need to print the document, then be sure to use the double-sided printing feature. It sounds like a small switch, but it can cut your paper usage in half.
Create an indoor jungle
Adding some plants to your office not only brightens up your space but can also help to ensure the air stays clean. Research has found that indoor plants can help to reduce carbon dioxide levels by around 10% in offices with air conditioning, and 25% in offices without air conditioning.
Switch to green procurement
As a business, there are other ways to become greener rather than just improving your office. Consider the impact of the goods and services you purchase for your business and assess whether you can switch to those that cause the minimum environmental impact. As well as green procurement, you can ensure your business is as sustainable as possible by planning ahead to manage demand, ensuring you don’t purchase more than is necessary.
Whether you take part in the next Avery Green Month or want to establish your own green week in your office, there are plenty of things – both small and large – you can do to become more sustainable as a business. From hot water taps and showers to storage and recycling, get in touch with Easy Offices today to find out how you can design your perfect green serviced office.