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What is a Green Office?

The world is going Green, it seems. From reducing waste in our homes and on our roads, from cleaning up our rivers and our oceans, to reducing the pollutants caused by our large manufacturers and our offices – that’s right, our offices! – we’re all big on doing our part to protect our environment and reduce the effects of global warming.  
But what’s this about our offices causing pollution? We thought mostly large manufacturers spewing toxins from their smokestacks and automobiles on our roads creating smog are the biggest environmental bad guys.  
Not so fast.  
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) 2005 Energy Review, buildings are one of the heaviest consumers of natural resources and account for a significant portion of the greenhouse gas emissions that affect climate change. In addition, in the U.S., buildings account for 39 percent of all CO2 emissions.  
So what can we do to make our offices more environmentally friendly? Just what is a “green” office?  
First of all, a green office doesn’t look much different than a typical workplace. Yet it’s an office that reduces energy consumption, water use, material use and waste.  
A green office’s furniture/cubicles have been Greenguard Certified. These are products that have been tested to measure toxins used in their manufacturing, toxins such as formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and aldehydes – which can contribute to poor employee health and air pollution indoors.  
A Greenguard test measures toxins and only those that are under the U.S. Green Building Council’s allowable limits receive Greenguard certification.  
A green office also uses compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) instead of incandescent bulbs (those little brutes use as much as four times the energy as needed to give us light). CFLs that are Energy Star certified take only 25 percent of the energy as an incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light. They give off less heat – no more burned fingers trying to remove a hot bulb – and last up to 10 times longer. They cost more than the light bulbs you and I have used all our lives. But they’ll save us money – and possibly the planet – in the long run.  
A green office pays attention to its electronic tools. Did you know that office buildings use up to 25 percent of the electricity consumed by all commercial buildings? When vetting vendors for new printers, faxes, copy machines, consider purchasing Energy Star-certified electronics. Think laptop computer instead of desktop – laptops use less energy than a comparable desktop unit. In addition, because the actual manufacturing of an electronic device uses up a considerable amount of natural resources – think the electricity to run the conveyor belt for assembling a computer, for example, and then multiply it by all the electricity used to run the other machines that go into putting a computer together. A green office will look into purchasing an all-in-one fax/phone/copier. One machine doing the work of three, thus saving the electricity and raw materials that would have gone into the making of three different devices.  
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