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Five Unconventional Ways to Build Sustainability in Your Office

February 1, 2013
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Though you spend more time out on the job than in your office, you still understand the importance of sustainability—for you, your employees and the environment. Entrev.com reports, “More than 60 percent of U.S. adults are either equally as likely or more likely to visit a business that focuses on being green—regardless of distance or effort required, according to a 2010 Harris Interactive study.” Engaging in sustainable practices in your business not only helps the environment—but can be a tool in branding and customer service.

While you may at first consider the standard list of sustainability options, it’s important that you think outside of the box. From a simple postage meter to overall supply chain processes, try these five tactics to build sustainability into your office.

Audit Your Sustainability Status

Many offices jump right into green initiatives without taking the time to assess their current carbon footprint and any sustainability measures already in place. As a result, they may replicate efforts already being made in the office. Or, they spend too much time and energy on relatively minor issues while ignoring bigger problems. 

• Your audit should involve an inventory of all your business processes—from procurement to recycling—to determine which areas have the most room for improvement.

• Consider hiring an outside consulting company to assess your business critically and identify problem areas you might take for granted.
Start with Quick Return Projects

Building sustainability requires changing how your business completes certain processes. While the results of these changes can be very beneficial down the line, it may be difficult at first to get your business partners, employees and customers on board.

• Begin by implementing changes that produce a quick return on investment. Once stakeholders in your company see the positive results of those preliminary measures, they’ll be more interested in longer-term investments in sustainability.

• One example: According to ENERGY STAR, compact fluorescent bulbs utilize 75 percent less energy than incandescents. After installing CFLs, you’ll see an immediate impact on your energy bill which can help convince stakeholders of the positive benefits of sustainable practices.

Buy a Postage Meter

When the topic of sustainability in the office is discussed, you may not automatically consider the purchasing of a postage meter as an important factor. However, this small, yet efficient device will help you avoid driving to the post office for invoices, direct mail campaigns, etc. It’s a smart, yet underused way to stay green. 

Examine Your Supply Chain

Promoting sustainability in your business doesn’t stop at your office doors. While individual efforts within your company can certainly bear fruit, it is important for you to expand your efforts to involve your suppliers, partners and customers.

• Whether your main expenditures are simple office supplies or complex building materials, you can engage in more sustainable practices by utilizing local materials (when possible). These materials produce less of a travel footprint, benefit the local economy, and can usually be procured at less expense due to lower shipping costs. 

Consolidate Technology

Reducing energy usage within your office can provide positive benefits for both the environment and your bottom line. The lower your energy usage, the less you have to pay in energy costs. One way you can significantly lower your office’s energy costs is by consolidating your technology.

• According to the CDW Cloud Tracking Poll, companies rated a reduction in IT energy and power consumption as the second most important benefit of switching to cloud-based computing. 

• Replace your office’s myriad printers, copiers and scanners with a single multi-function unit with a positive ENERGY STAR rating. This will reduce your energy usage as well as produce better-quality copies and printouts.

Building sustainability in your office involves more than recycling wasted paper. Making concrete changes to your supply chain and technology can create a lasting culture of sustainability to benefit your office, your ROI and the environment.

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