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4 Practical Ways for Facility Managers to be More Sustainable

Posted on Jul 8, 2016, by Michael Eckert

For many companies, sustainability simply means doing enough to hit their LEED targets. But a work environment which prioritizes sustainability can have many benefits: improved indoor air quality; happier and healthier employees; and a better reputation compared to competitors.

To help you take advantage of the benefits of a more sustainable workplace, today I’m looking at 4 practical ways facility managers can improve sustainability in their company.

1) Shop Sustainably

When you’re making purchasing decisions, one way to be more sustainable is to choose suppliers who also have a clear commitment to sustainability, and who are recognized as ethical companies. This can take many different forms, such as using recycled content in the manufacturing process, recycling products at end-of-life, or off-setting carbon emissions from the manufacturing process by planting trees.

2) Make it Easy to Recycle

When employees are at home, there is a good chance they are recycling everything from water bottles to their newspapers. But once we arrive at work, those habits slip. Why? Because not every company has easily-accessible recycling facilities.

If you’ve only got one container for recycling in your workplace, your employees are faced with a choice. They either put their water bottle in the trash now, or they carry it around the office for a bit until they happen to pass that bin. Not going to happen. Make it easy for your employees to recycle their trash, and you’ll soon find that you’re sending much less trash to the landfill, and recycling much more – a quick win for sustainability!

3) Reuse or Repurpose

When it comes to redesigning or refurbishing your office, how much of your existing installation gets thrown away? If a company wants a whole new look, that can be a lot: everything from carpets to furniture. And while some of this might get recycled, reusing or repurposing items uses a lot less energy compared with recycling, so this can actually be a more sustainable approach.

For example, if you use an adhesive-free carpet backing such as TractionBack, you would be able to remove the carpet from an executive office, and re-lay it in a meeting room, giving that room a whole new look. Similarly, if you are replacing desks for some of your employees, you might be able to make use of them in your breakout area or meeting rooms.

Alternatively, you could donate unwanted items (even your carpet!) to charities such as Habitat for Humanity or through Green Standards, to extend the life of these items beyond your company’s use.

4) Reduce Waste

We all try to cut our energy usage at home, to keep our bills down. So why don’t we do the same at work? With a few small changes, most workplaces will be able to cut down their energy and paper consumption, and cut down on wastage:

  • Change your computers’ settings so that rather than switching to screensaver after a period of inactivity, they go into “hibernation” or “sleep” mode instead
  • Set your printers to print double-sided as the default option
  • Discourage printed handouts in meetings, instead sending round information by email afterwards (which has the added benefit of serving as a reminder of what was covered in the meeting)
  • Install motion sensors in offices or meeting rooms so that lights are automatically turned off when the room’s not in use

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Topics: Sustainability

Michael Eckert

Written by Michael Eckert