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How your office can reduce its carbon footprint

Simple ways to help your company save energy and reduce its carbon footprint, without breaking the bank.

Climate change has barely been out of the news since the US confirmed it would be withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement – a historic deal that unites all the world's nations in a single agreement on tackling and preventing what scientists regard as dangerous and irreversible levels of climate change.

This means the US – second only to China when it comes to global pollution levels – joins Nicaragua and  Syria as the only countries not signed up to the agreement.

Arguably the only good thing to come out of the United States’ decision to pull out, is that it’s put climate change firmly back into public consciousness – the battle to beat climate change is one everyone can play a part in, and every individual contribution can make a big difference.

What is a carbon footprint?

Carbon footprint is a measurement, usually expressed in tons, to represent the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organisation, or community.

Reducing carbon emissions means minimising the CO2 contribution, and there are plenty of long-term changes you can put in place to make to make your office more sustainable.

Here’s how your do your bit to reduce our carbon footprint while at work…

How to reduce carbon footprint at work

Small changes can make a big difference when it comes to reducing carbon footprint, how many of these simple steps can you implement in your office?

Measure your carbon footprint

If you really want to make a significant difference to the carbon footprint of your workplace, you first need to first find out what level it’s currently at. Register for free at carbonfootrpint.com and you’ll have access to a handy online emissions calculator, to give you a starting point from which you can compare your team’s carbon-cutting performance.

Cut down on travel

One of the quickest ways to reduce emissions is to cut down on business travel - use the web, conference call or video-conferencing services to avoid unnecessary trips.

It’s also worth considering flexible work arrangements to your employees, such as working from home, which would reduce the employee commuting time and carbon emissions. And encourage employees to use car pool, public transport or cycling as alternative ways of travel, as part of a wider carbon-offset program aimed at changing attitudes and culture.

Turn everything off

Encourage employees to bring any energy-saving habits to work – if they turn off all devices when they leave home, they can easily do the same at work.

And make the most of your computers’ power management options and set them to shut down automatically - a single computer left to operate all day produces 1,500 pounds of CO2 per year.

Another quick fix is to use only the lights when you need them. Install motion-sensitive lights or simply switch off the lights when you leave and reduce your average energy bills by up to 19%.

Cut down on paper use

Depending upon your industry, you may find there’s little or no need to print anything off any more, but if you do need to print, switch to double-sided printing and re-use one-sided copies for drafts and notepads.

Also, consider paper recycling. Recycling is one of the simplest ways to reduce your Carbon Footprint immediately. If your business team consists of 20 or more people, switching to recycled paper could have the same effect as taking 70,000 cars off the road for one year.

Recycle everything

It’s not just paper you should be recycling, if you’re upgrading your systems, or your computers have just reached the end of the road, you can recycle your electronics through e-recycling companies or manufacturer take-back programs.

Make sure you choose a company with a good reputation and robust data-wiping procedures in place to ensure your data isn’t compromised. Look for other items to recycle like plastic components, paper, and used office furniture.

And keep recycling bins around the place, to encourage everyone to recycle at all times.

Adjust the thermostat

Turning the thermostat down by just 1°C can have a big impact on your carbon footprint, not to mention your business energy bills.

It’s also worth keeping the heating on a consistently lower heat – it can use less energy and potentially save more money than switching it on and off for big blasts of heat. Get to know how your thermostats and timers work, and discourage staff from tampering with them.

Educate your staff

Employee education might be one of the most important elements in your business sustainability strategy. Make sure everyone in your team is equally informed and instructed to follow the new environmental strategy from the outset.

It might also be worth developing an incentive scheme rewarding individual employees or a team which reduces the most waste. After all, it is the team, their ideas and actions that will make a real difference.

Is your business planning to cut its carbon footprint? What measures are you putting in place? Or have you already managed to slash emissions? Share your experiences and ideas with our energy-conscious business community on Facebook or Twitter.

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