The green office is here to stay, as more office managers realize that going green is more than a conscientious effort to save the planet, it also protects the health of their employees and saves the bottom line.
The green office trend may already be in your workplace, showing up as one or more of these things:
Telepresence. Google uses high tech in deceptively simple ways to minimize its carbon footprint. For example, business travel has been slashed to a bare minimum through the use of videoconferencing, reports the New York Times – not a tiny gesture when you consider that Google has 119 offices all around the world.
“Hundreds of meetings per day are done via videoconference,” says Google project manager Adam Banks. “The technology is primarily about making the company work better, but it has the nice effect of saving on carbon as well.”
Wainhouse Research predicts that telepresence will rapidly supplant the need for business travel, growing at over 100% per year over the next four years, though it’s “unlikely to reach $1 billion by the year 2011.”
More efficient buildings. The building industry has embraced the environment through the U.S. Green Building Council, an organization that promotes environmentally safe and profitable buildings. The USGBC estimates the annual market for green building products and services at $7 billion as of November 2005.
To enforce its green standards, the USGBC formed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating System, a benchmark for the creation and operation of green buildings. 35,000 projects are now involved in the LEED system, totaling over 4.5 billion square feet of construction space in over 90 countries.
Recycled Furniture. More than ever, offices use recycled materials, reducing the office’s carbon footprint and protecting the environment. Recycled office items run from the obvious (folders, printer paper, shipping supplies) to the surprising (office furniture).
Remanufactured office furniture offers a win-win situation for businesses: buying remanufactured furniture, such as Cubicles.com’s line of remanufactured Herman Miller cubicles, allow companies to be environment-friendly while saving costs at the same time.
Old furniture is rescued from a landfill, re-engineered to look, feel, and work like new. The attention to the environment extends to the remanufacturing process – powder coat paint is used on the new furniture, ensuring that 100% of leftover paint is reclaimed. Even the “new” fabrics on the remanufactured furniture are recycled – Terratex® fabrics retain a bright visual appeal, despite their being almost 100% made from recycled fabrics.
The result – little new waste, little to no harmful emissions produced, and the use of material that has already impacted the environment means that the “new” product makes little new impact, if at all.
Solutions for greener workplaces have been around for a while, but only recently have these efforts reached a critical mass. Many executives have continued make their companies more eco-friendly, creating a raft of new green innovations in the process. Expect this to speed up, not slow down, in the years to come.
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