Small changes, big differences

Creating a carbon conscious workplace

We’re all better informed on issues surrounding sustainability, the benefits of creating a carbon conscious workplace, the problems surrounding plastic waste and the general need to create more environmentally friendly spaces, in order to live and work better…

Education is definitely hard at work – we just need to persevere and keep driving it through to make a more sustainable and greener approach common practice.


Where to start

The best way to maintain any planned changes is to start small. Start big and you might bite off more than you can chew. You’re aiming for longevity and a change in daily practice not a one off headline achievement, soon to be forgotten.

Consider the computers switched on all day and left on standby. Computers and laptops left on standby use ten times more electricity than those that are turned off, not to mention accounting for up to 50 per cent of the office’s energy consumption; so, introduce the golden rule – if you’re not using it, turn it off !

The standby rule should, in fact, be a given. Make sure the team doesn’t leave anything on standby, including photocopiers and printers. Over 40 per cent of business electricity use is purported to occur when staff have left the building, which absolutely makes no sense. Fact is, you shouldn’t be spending money on powering any piece of equipment when members of staff have gone home for the day.


Getting the message out there

Establish a green policy and circulate it. It doesn’t have to be onerous but directives like the above need to be set out, in the first instance. Other initiatives can be as simple as signs up by the kettle to remind staff to only use the water they need and notes on the bottom of emails asking recipients to restrict printing out to when strictly necessary.

If such stipulations are officially gathered to create a single green policy document then there are clear guidelines for your staff to follow. The next step is to nominate someone to implement this policy for you. If you can get a member of the team to ‘own it’, you have a far greater chance of it sticking as it becomes someone’s responsibility, and part of their job, to make it stick.


The products that you use

Again, an easy and relatively small change to make: Start to invest in products that are recyclable or that have been recycled (water cups or disposable coffee cups in reception and shared areas, for example). Be aware of your supplier’s stance on recycling and the origin of the goods that you are using, from the paper in the toilet to the coffee in the machine. Specify the most sustainable products and set the example.


At the point of a refurbishment or fit out…

…It will be time to make the bigger decisions and to install and fit accordingly.

Most good design and fit out consultancies should be able to advise you and factor in the most carbon conscious solutions throughout the planning and early stages as a matter of course.

The canny consultant will suggest ways in which you can reduce energy consumption while improving the company’s efficiency. The even cannier, expert consultant will help you to make it an intrinsic part of your identity.