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Do It @ the OFFICE


RESPONSIBILITY: 23 Point Office Management

Make your company a leader in the community by demonstrating your commitment to protecting and nourishing the environment. It is your goal to become an eco-friendly representative for industry by introducing tangible changes to business practices and by making environmentally sound resources available to your clients.

1. A minimum of 35% post consumer recycled content in paper that is ethanol and chlorine free, for all office copiers

2. Designated printers in each office that use only internal recycled paper

3. Business cards, letterhead, and envelopes printed with soy based inks on recycled paper

4. Brochures, UV coating is VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) free. Merrill printing uses soy based inks and is moving toward “clean” printing procedures

5. Custom printing will be done by local printers on paper that uses a minimum of 30% PC (Post Consumer) recycled paper using soy based inks

6. Low VOC paint shall be used on all signs where possible

7. Nontoxic cleaning supplies for office cleaning crews

8. Green Power electricity from environmentally friendly sources in offices where available

9. Ensure your Office lighting is currently energy efficient

10. Ensure computers, printers, copiers, and chargers are either off at night, or in low energy sleep mode

11. Most pollution from paint can be eliminated by using only low or non-VOC paint supplies this paint will be required in all future office facility work

12. Print in duplex mode whenever making multiple page copies

13. Purchase recycled print cartridges

14. Use coffee cups and water glasses, not plastic/paper or non glass bottles water (bring from home water bottles filled from a filtered tap or install in the office)

15. Use 100% post consumer recycled paper towels

16. Recycling bins throughout office for paper, glass, cans and bottles

17. Organic earth friendly soap

18. Use stainless steel cutlery and reusable containers to go pick up your lunch, eliminating plastic bags

19. Establish a foundation to fund local environmental programs committing a % of company revenues.

20. All print media shall contain a phrase indicating the material is composed of recycled paper, or a statement encouraging recycling of the paper

21. Install a menu on your website that includes useful green links for our clients and promote the sustainable actions that you follow

22. Provide training for all staff

23. Use every opportunity to communicate meaningful conservation practices to other businesses and clients. Use your business as an example. Commit to implement these plans NOW, not wait till “next month”  

1 – 23, how many points do you score today. Be honest. Check again in a month. Check again in another month. Are you making an effort, or just reading text?


3 part approach to Business Sustainability

Sustainable development is a vast and all-encompassing idea, and corporate sustainability is nearly so. No corporate sustainability leader can hope to make their company “sustainable” in the next year—or even the next five. So as we think ahead to our sustainability initiatives for 2012, how can we set meaningful goals that will lead to measurable good?

1. Tracking “facilities, flights and fuel”

The first corporate environmental impacts that come to mind are the tangible ones: energy and water consumed, and wastes produced, in physical buildings; employee travel; electricity use. In the field of environmental tracking, we’ve made the most progress in measuring these tangible “facilities, flights and fuel” impacts, as I call them.

One excellent tracking tool is the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, a method for measuring climate change impacts standardized by the World Resources Institute (WRI).


The GHG Protocol is a widely-accepted way to quantify a company’s greenhouse gas emissions, a process called a greenhouse gas inventory. This GHG inventory includes emissions from stationary and mobile fuel consumption (so-called “Scope 1” emissions), purchased electricity (“Scope 2”), and value chain impacts (“Scope 3”). Most organizations measure their emissions in scopes 1 and 2, and whatever portion of scope 3 for which they can obtain data, such as employee travel.


Carbon footprints, as greenhouse gas inventories are more commonly called, don’t comprise all of a firm’s environmental impacts, but they do serve as excellent initial assessment tools. Many firms begin with carbon footprints and progress to methods that use multiple ecological indicators. A great discussion of the pros and cons of using carbon as the singular environmental indicator can be found in the excellent article, “Carbon Footprint – A Catalyst for Life Cycle Assessment?” in the Journal for Industrial Ecology.


Using carbon footprints can serve as a standardized, tractable, and reportable method to track and communicate your sustainability efforts both internally and externally, especially if you submit the results to a voluntary reporting agency like the Carbon Disclosure Project.


2. Engaging, educating and empowering your employees

Many companies centralize their sustainability efforts to a small group, usually from facilities or Environmental, Health and Safety (EH&S). It’s tempting to do this, because large, consensus-driven groups can be messy and unwieldy for making decisions and getting things done. But such centralizing can lead to missed opportunities. While it’s important to have a core group who can catalyze and lead sustainability efforts, you need your entire organization engaged, educated and empowered to pursue your corporate sustainability strategy.

Many sustainability efforts are based on changing behaviors, and the only way to succeed is for the stakeholder groups affected to be involved. For example, your Green Team can mandate double-sided printing, but unless Legal stops asking for single-sided contracts and IT sets all newly purchased printers to duplex mode, behavior will slowly erode back to the old, less eco-efficient habits.

Students that I advise often ask me what they should major in to get into the sustainability field; I tell them that it really doesn’t matter, because every discipline relates to sustainability. So it is with functional groups in my company. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of environmental impacts, every functional group in your organization should have representation on the Green Team or other environmental endeavors.

Having all functional groups engaged in sustainability is especially relevant for the third part of the sustainability strategy.

3. Greening your core products and services

Imagine your ideal “green” company. The office is truly a paperless one, energy is conserved and even renewably generated on-site, and the building itself is certified LEED Platinum.


But unless this company is in the paper, energy, or construction industry, its leaders aren’t truly bringing sustainability into the core of their business: that is, the way they generate revenues, which is the company’s reason for existing in the first place. In the sustainability field, we often talk about the “triple bottom line” of people, planet and profit; but the real opportunity for revolutionary change is in the tripletop line—only by growing our revenues in a financially, socially and environmentally sustainable way can we hope to remain successful over the long term.

This third part of the sustainability strategy is greening your company’s products and services. The authors of the seminal article “Why Sustainability Is Now the Key Driver of Innovation” in the Harvard Business Review (registration required) lay out five stages of maturity for an organization developing its sustainability strategy.


After environmental compliance and greening the value chain in the first two stages, “designing sustainable products and services” is the key to stage three (and beyond). Designing greener products and services is the only real way to achieve an environmentally neutral and eventually restorative company, but this means something different to each industry and firm.




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