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Green Offices

2011 January 27

By Lina Younes

During last week’s blog I focused on the fact that with simple actions at home we can all contribute to environmental protection. One of individuals who left comments to that blog pointed out that many office buildings in the DC area leave the lights on after office hours and weekends. What an enormous waste of energy!

Did you know that the combined annual energy costs for US commercial buildings and industrial facilities is $202.3 billion? Did you know that about thirty percent of the energy used in buildings is done so inefficiently? So, what types of steps could we take to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings?

Many of the things we can do to improve energy efficiency in the office are not that different from some of the steps we take at home. How about turning off the lights when you’re not in the office? Replacing the bulbs in desk lamps with compact fluorescent lights will also use about 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. How about creating a green team among your co-workers to identify additional energy saving methods in the office?

In addition to energy, reducing waste is another way to make the workplace more environmentally friendly. We should all do our part to make a difference. How have you contributed to a healthier workplace?

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as Acting Associate Director for Environmental Education. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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15 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    January 27, 2011

    We Shouldn’t Need Money In The Future !!!
    Now, all the activities measured by the money: Gross National Product, Gross Domestic Product, Trading, Investment and skill value. Euro is model to journey to one world money currency and after that its value is free. Next, if we need anything we just take and anybody shouldn’t care. Aren’t life that we hope in the future, we are?

  2. worker permalink
    January 27, 2011

    If youll try to make your office green, you could easely find yourself in the black zone of unemployment……

  3. Rod Allen permalink
    January 27, 2011

    Since ‘GREEN’ and ‘Environmentally Friendly’ go hand-in-hand, I wonder how much taxpayer money could be saved by NOT contracting pest control companies for pest control in public offices.

    Governments (Federal, State, and Local) all contract out maid services to clean their offices and lawn care services to maintain their lawns. Then they contract pest control companies to apply toxic chemicals to control pests both inside and outside the buildings.

    There are 25b exempt pest control products that have been scientifically proven more effective than toxic chemicals, which do NOT require any type of license to dispense.

    If agencies had the maid service use these 25b products in the offices during their routine cleaning schedule, and the lawn care companies use the 25b products in their normal maintenance schedule, it would eliminate the cost of the Pest Control Companies.

    Beyond the immediate cost savings, other benefits would include healthier work environments, healthier workers, fewer ‘sick’ days used, and lower medical costs of the employees.

    If we’re going to be stressing GREEN – then let’s go all the way instead of just implementing what benefits us at the time. The chemical companies have been ‘buying’ the government and ‘lying’ to the people long enough.

  4. John permalink
    January 27, 2011

    While I can see no reason to leave all lights on there are other reasons to leave some lights on, specifically safety. Police and fire like to have some lights on for their personal safety as well as not trying to find light switches in the dark. Possibly, there are local code regulations that require such. In many cases these lights are unswitched except at the breaker. Possibly motion sensor with timers could alleviate some of this need.

  5. Lina-EPA permalink
    January 28, 2011

    We recommend Integrated pest management practices as the best way to control pests responsibly. Here are some tips:
    http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/controlling/housing-mgr-tips.htm
    Lina

  6. Lina-EPA permalink
    January 28, 2011

    John,
    Yes, safety is paramount, but motion sensors can also improve energy efficiency substantially during non work hours. Here are some tips:
    http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-and-you/small-business/small-business2.html

    Thanks for commenting on this blog.
    Lina

  7. Linda permalink
    January 28, 2011

    Since I work for a state agency, there are a lot of areas where I don’t have much impact (cleaning schedules, pesticide applications, and such are out of my reach), but one area where I *do* have control is my own behavior at work and I make the most of that. I have a jar of healthy snacks on my desk, which I restock from larger packages (once the big package is empty, it gets recycled). I brew and drink herbal tea all day long; I heat the water in a lovely microwave safe mug. I stir in sugar with a metal spoon … I bring the tea bags home for my compost heap, refill the sugar jar from home (no paper packets, thanks), wash the mug and spoon (biodegradable dish soap and a reusable cloth). Since I drink 2 or 3 cups of tea each day, the mug and spoon make much more sense than disposables, and they can be used for the occasional serving of oatmeal, too. Instead of turning on the overhead lights (too much light in a small area), I use a floor lamp with a thrifty little Compact Fluorescent bulb. I purchased the lamp and provide my own bulbs; once they burn out, I take them to be recycled.

    When I leave for the day, everything is turned off. If I’m gone for the weekend, I make sure the power strip is off, too.

  8. Lina-EPA permalink*
    January 28, 2011

    Linda,
    Those are definitely green practices. We all can contribute to environmental protection even if many things seem to be “out of our hands.” Keep the good work!
    Lina

  9. Turner, Jeff permalink
    January 31, 2011

    Thanks for the tips @ Lina! I will link to this site from my blog. Guess its helpful for my users!

    Kind regards

  10. Stephen permalink
    February 1, 2011

    The idea of Green Office can be a revolutionary one. But the thing that was focused through the post was a definite one. More people can opt for this innovative idea and this will definitely help them out. We are now in such a situation that we have to save energy in any form or the other.

  11. Stephen permalink
    February 1, 2011

    The idea of Green Office can be a revolutionary one. But the thing that was focused through the post was a definite one. More people can opt for this innovative idea and this will definitely help them out. We are now in such a situation that we have to save energy in any form or the other.

  12. Lina-EPA permalink*
    February 2, 2011

    We can all contribute to energy conservation in the home, at the office in our communities. Every little step counts.
    Lina

  13. Xfinity Deals permalink
    May 17, 2011

    At my job, they have been taking measures to be more environmentally friendly by requesting and insisting that all employees convert to paperless pay-stubs, placing recycling bins in the lunch rooms, and even having the lights off in most areas of what we call the “Creative” building. Of course there is more we can do and some of my ideas are to implement low pressure faucets in the bathroom as well as (heatless) hand dryers instead if paper towels. Our HR department makes many strides to make the changes that will make our company eco-friendly.

  14. pest Control permalink
    July 18, 2011

    There are many offices that use lights at night for decoration environment.In many offices energy is not use for its main purposes due to waste of power energy the need of energy is increasing day bay day.People can save energy to use it for its main purposes not for just decoration.

  15. Car Crash permalink
    November 2, 2011

    Love to participate here coz this site is really awesome, I was looking for such a site for many days. Hope this site will give us much more in future.

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