Going Green at the Office: HR Can Lead the Charge

Maybe it’s because when you think of HR, you think of paperwork? Or because HR takes the responsibility for employee satisfaction, and more companies are realizing that environmental awareness is important to their employees? For whatever reason, human resources departments are the ones who tend to institute “green” practices at the office. “Many employers now recognize that green programs in the workplace can promote social responsibility among workers and help retain top talent,” said Don Sanford, managing director of Buck Consultants, a human resources and benefits consulting firm. Going green at the office isn’t difficult. Here are several areas where you can easily incorporate a more environmentally conscious mentality:

  • Use the internet or teleconferencing to cut down on business travel
  • Put employee manuals, policies or other company information online to reduce printing
  • Promote the reduction of paper usage
  • Store paperwork electronically
  • Provide recycling trash bins for paper around the office and for bottles and cans in the break area
  • Start telecommuting/work from home programs
  • Institute Ride/Share programs

Research has shown that employee involvement in green programs dramatically increases when organizations appoint one employee to lead the efforts. Encourage this individual to start a companywide movement toward:

Purchasing Green Office Products There is a large range of ‘green’ office products available that help lower waste, lower energy usage, and use a lesser amount of chemicals than traditional products.

  • Ink & Toner Cartridges Several retail stores offer consumers the ability to purchase remanufactured ink and toner cartridges, which cost up to 15% less than traditional cartridges. Remember to recycle your used cartridges, also.
  • PCR Paper PCR paper is made of Post-Consumer Recycled content and is the same quality as non-recycled paper.
  • Energy Star Electronics When buying office electronics, such as computers or printers, look for those with Energy Star labels. These products automatically shut down if they are not in use, so they use up to 75% less energy.

Saving Energy The entire company can easily help conserve energy and energy costs with a few simple changes.

  • Be Bright About Light Use natural light when you can, and make it a habit to turn off the lights when you’re leaving any room for 15 minutes or more.
  • Go Fluorescent You can save up to 75% of lighting energy by using Energy Star fluorescent light bulbs. These bulbs last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, which also helps reduce maintenance costs
  • Use Power Strips An additional 75% of energy can be conserved when you use power strips to power your electronics. It’s easy to turn the power strip off at the end of the day, and on every morning, rather than letting electronics run 24/7.

Eating In If the company provides a comfortable, relaxing area for employees to spend lunch and snack times, many will pack a lunch instead of consuming fuel to go out to eat. Decorating with real plants, when possible, will also help clean the air.

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