Before you paint the walls, learn a few other ways to make your office green – in the environmental sense.
A green office can help save the environment as well as provide a more pleasant working environment. The more people who strive to make their living and working spaces green, the more readily available helpful products will be. In addition to things you can buy to "go green", there are also some simple things you can do to save energy and keep your workspace environmentally-friendly.
The most obvious way to turn your office green is to paint the walls, but be sure to choose the right kind of paint. Regular paint releases low levels of toxins into the air for years after application. The concentration of toxic emissions is even higher In a room that doesn’t get much ventilation, and that increases the potential for health issues with long-term exposure. Water-based, non-toxic paint is the way to go; it doesn’t emit fumes while it’s wet, it doesn’t release toxins into the air after it dries, and it’s more easily disposed of because it doesn’t require special considerations. However, oil-based paint must be disposed of by following strict environmental rules to prevent its harsh chemicals from entering our water supply. It’s a good idea to check with your city’s waste management office to find out how to dispose of paint or any other potentially hazardous materials. Most paint brands now have entire lines of environmentally-friendly paint in all colors, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find one to suit your office and your style.
What if your office is provided by an employer and you’re unable to paint the walls? Plants are an inexpensive solution. Green, leafy plants naturally clean the air by taking in whatever chemicals may be present and releasing oxygen. If you have concerns about the air quality in your office, then you might want to place several plants around the office to improve air quality. Just remember that plants may not be enough to ensure a healthy working environment if you have respiratory issues like asthma. An air purifier will greatly improve air quality as well; some purifiers can remove up to 99 percent of microscopic airborne particles. Air purifiers come in a range of styles to accommodate every price range.
Do you get the feeling that plugging in an electric air purifier may not be the most environmentally responsible thing to do? You're right! However, you can counteract the increased use of electricity by switching all the incandescent light bulbs in your office to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). CFLs are widely available; they provide just as much illumination as incandescent bulbs but they use much less energy. In fact, Energy Star CFLs use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs! They cost a bit more than traditional bulbs, but they last up to ten times longer which makes them a more cost-effective choice.
If your office has a window, then there are a couple of ways to increase your office’s green status. If possible, open the window periodically to allow stale air to escape and fresh air to enter. You can also open the window in good weather to reduce the use of the heating and cooling system. You could also try applying a film that deflects ultraviolet rays. This can keep your office more comfortable when it’s hot outside and keep the cooling system from working so hard to cool the space. Plus, carpet and furnishings don't fade from sunlight as much when you block the ultraviolet rays.
Finally, buy green. Invest in items like recycled sticky note pads and eco-friendly water bottles to show both your employees and your clients that you care about leaving the smallest possible carbon footprint. Before you buy anything to make your office a greener place, start saving the environment now with one small gesture—the flick of the light switch!
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