Greening Your Office
We talk a lot about going green through the building materials and methods we choose. But are you operating your office using green practices? Although most mason contractors are out in the field, you may have a staff that stays behind at the office. The opportunities to waste energy are countless. To accompany our story in this issue on green building (p. 18) are the following tips from the Sierra Club on keeping your office green.
• Be bright about light
Make it a habit to turn off the lights when you’re leaving any room for 15 minutes or more and utilize natural light when you can. Buy Energy Star-rated light bulbs and fixtures, which use at least two-thirds less energy than regular lighting, and install timers or motion sensors that automatically shut off lights when they’re not needed.
• Maximize computer efficiency
Turn off your computer — and the power strip it’s plugged into — when you leave for the day. Otherwise, you’re still burning energy even if you’re not burning the midnight oil. During the day, set your computer to go to sleep automatically during short breaks. Screen savers don’t save energy. Make it a policy to invest in energy-saving computers, monitors and printers and make sure old equipment is properly recycled. Old computers that still work, and are less than five years old, can be donated to organizations that will refurbish them and find them new homes. You may even get a tax deduction.
• Go paperless when possible
Before you print, ask yourself if the document could this be read or stored online instead. When you receive unwanted catalogs, newsletters, magazines or junk mail, request to be removed from the mailing list before you recycle the item. Make it a policy to post employee manuals and similar materials online, rather than distribute print copies.
• Ramp up your recycling
Recycle everything your company collects. Just about any kind of paper you would encounter in an office, including fax paper, envelopes and junk mail, can be recycled, along with your old cell phone, PDA or pager. Place recycling bins in accessible, high-traffic areas, and provide clear information about what can and cannot be recycled.