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These Are the Keys to Setting up a Sustainable Office

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Some things will always be disposable. In part, that is because nothing lasts forever. There is also the fact that some things should only be used once by a single individual. Not everything was meant to be shared. Also, it will be a long time before everything is manufactured from material that can be recycled. Even so, we have to keep pushing green forward in as many areas as we can. Green buildings are critical to the future of sustainable development. Everything builds on everything that came before it. You have to start somewhere. The office is as good a place to start as any, and probably better than most.

One of the things that makes the office a good target for sustainability is that we can build it into the initial financing. Sustainability costs a little more time and money. But it is not that much more when you are pitching your business plan to the bank for a loan. It is also a place where you can set policy. Recycling can be a part of the handbook of rules. Defying those rules will be met with consequences. An office also has the space for the various recycling containers that are not always found in houses and apartments. That said, it will take more than desire to make your office more sustainable. Here are a few practical keys to making it happen:

Prioritize Quality

Is it time for you to start looking for new conference room furnishings? If you want to build a sustainable office, focus less on the material used and more on the quality of the piece. It is far more sustainable to get a quality office conference table than it is to get one made fully from recycled material. That is not to say that both are not important. It is a matter of picking the right priority if one is forced to choose between the two. 

It is more environmentally impactful to have to toss out a large piece of furniture because it is no longer fit to be used than it is to buy something less than 100% recyclable but will never have to be replaced for the entire run of the business. A sustainable office has sustainable furnishings, especially the large pieces. Set them up once and leave them set up for the next 10 years. By getting modular furniture, you can resize your large piece as needed without having to buy separate pieces. Quality furniture that is also flexible is best for sustainability. 

Make Recycling Convenient

Don’t just preach recycling. Make it easy to do. Everywhere there is a garbage can, there needs to be all recycling options. Don’t offer a soda machine that dispenses aluminum cans and plastic bottles without convenient ways to relieve yourself of those containers once they are empty. If the only recycling station is down the hall and to the left, you have not done enough to provide a sustainable solution.

There is also the matter of clarity. It is not clear which products can be recycled. Even when you have a recyclable product, it is often not clear which container is appropriate for the thing you need to throw away. What exactly do you do with a doughnut box that is half cardboard and half plastic? Does anyone know? When you offer recycling, make it sustainable by being clear about what can be recycled and where it needs to go.

Use Power-Saving Techniques

Instead of placing a heavy burden on the power grid just to turn the lights on, build your office space with lots of natural light. Where lighting is needed, be sure the bulbs are energy efficient. It is also okay if the office is not lit up like a summer day at high noon. Use low-flow faucets. There is no reason to have high-pressure water fixtures in the office. And from time to time, let everyone have a remote day so that no one has to show up to the office at all. It doesn’t have to be as often as casual Friday. But even shutting things down once a month can make a big difference. 

For sustainability to be more than a buzzword, it has to include buying quality furnishings that last, offering recycling that makes sense to people, and using every power-saving technique at your disposal.

Chris Jackson is an experienced Business Development Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the construction industry. He is currently employed by Best Access Doors, an access door supplier in the US and Canada, and has been working for the company for more than 12 years now. His area of expertise is on Negotiation, Roofers, Sales, Project Estimation, and Facility Management (FM).

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