Environmentally Friendly Bike Law in New York Coming Through!

Office workers now have one more reason to lower their commute’s carbon footprint: New York City has just passed a new environmentally friendly law allowing cyclists to park their bikes inside their office buildings.

The new Bicycle Access to Office Buildings Law is designed to increase bicycle commuting, by giving cyclists access to protected parking while at work. The Queens Courier reports that commuter cycling in New York has doubled from 2005 to 26 percent this year, a green office habit that the government is eager to encourage.

“Biking is a great way to get to work in New York City, and this new law makes it easier for workers to commute on two wheels instead of four,” said NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) Commissioner Robert LiMandri. “By creating a safe, secure place for cyclists to store their bikes, it will help to promote alternative modes of transportation and a healthy, active lifestyle for millions of New Yorkers.”

Councilmember David Yassky, who sponsored the bill, thinks the new law will solve many problems at once. “Allowing bicycles in buildings is an effective way to encourage cycling,” Yassky was heard to say. “This legislation is an extremely realistic effort to cut emissions, improve air quality, maximize public transportation and ease congestion, reaping tremendous environmental and quality of life benefits for New Yorkers.”

A few office managers and owners have put their full support behind the new law, restructuring their offices to permit bike parking. The New York Times hears from one such supporter:

“From my vantage point, it’s a huge positive,” said Larry A. Silverstein, president and chief executive of Silverstein Properties. [...] Although no bike was leaning against his desk that day, Mr. Silverstein said he supported the new law and thought most buildings with freight elevators could comply and that tenants could handle the parking once bikes rolled through their doors.

“If you really want to do this, you find the space,” he said. “There’s always space where you can put a bicycle.”

The new law goes into effect on December 11. More information at the official New York City Hall homepage.

Noise in Open Office Plans Kills Productivity.

Office cubicle stations beware: open office setups can be bad for corporate productivity. According to Julian Treasure, Chairman of sound consultancy The Sound Agency, the impact of sound on business is way out of proportion to the attention it’s been given so far.

Most organizations have no idea about the impact that sound makes on business, and therefore don’t seek to control it. But sound does affect workers on a very deep level – changing behavior in subtle ways for both good and ill.

In open office plans, Treasure notes, average ambient noise can drop productivity by over 60%. The good news, Treasure reassures us, is that workers in open office plans can triple average productivity just by wearing headphones playing the sounds of twittering birds.

Don’t take our word for it, listen to Treasure’s TED Talk below.

Junk Mail – Green (Environment) or Green (Money)?

The era of the green office was supposed to bring us more eco-friendly business processes, recycled office furnishings, and smaller footprints overall. But we’ve yet to find a way to integrate junk mail into the era of the green workplace.

Junk mail is a paradox – more than 40% of junk mail is thrown away unopened, but without junk mail, we’d never be able to afford postal service. Take it from the Postmaster General of the US Postal Service, John Potter -

“Somehow, they think a sale offer coming through the mail — as opposed to a newspaper, a magazine, TV, radio or the Internet — is a bad thing. Ads pay for the Internet, as well as broadcast TV and radio programs,” [Potter] said during a speech at the National Press Club. “So, too, ad mail helps pay for universal mail service in America.”

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Efficiency – Green Energy's Ugly Sister.

Efficiency – the other side of green energy – just isn’t as sexy. You don’t see a lot of celebrities touting efficiency. The few who do (cough cough Ed Begley cough) just aren’t that cool.

People think of efficiency along the lines of reasons other than sustainable living. Take electricity conservation – when asked why they reduce electricity consumption, over 72% of the public named cost reduction as their primary reason, says a new study from the Shelton Group.

Only 26% said they had the environment first on their mind. Another 40% mistakenly believed that generating electricity hurt the ozone layer.

A shame, really – over $1.2 trillion in potential savings can be realized by 2020 if the U.S. invests $520 billion in efficiency improvements, if a new McKinsey survey is to be believed.

The McKinsey report cites a number of “success stories” that could serve as models for other national policies. The list includes federal appliance energy-efficiency standards that have saved Americans an estimated $50 billion over 12 years; California’s incredible efficiency efforts; and heroic local efforts.

One local effort of particular note finances renewable energy and efficiency improvements by raising property taxes, allowing homeowners to avoid skyrocketing up-front costs.

The California plan works this way: the municipality covers the up-front costs. The homeowner then provides reimbursement through taxes.

Turn Your Office Green Without Compromising the Bottom Line.

Office furnishing is tough enough when you’ve got a budget to stick to, even more so when you prefer to purchase furniture that has a minimal impact on the environment.

You can solve both problems by turning to green, remanufactured office cubicles and furniture.

Thanks to the ongoing recession, used office furniture has reached new highs in supply and new lows in cost. Modern remanufacturing techniques can give them a new lease on life, creating products that are re-engineered to look, feel, and work like their brand new counterparts.

Cubicles.com’s remanufacturing process is a perfect case in point.

Cubicles.com goes to great lengths to totally repurpose the original cubicles. More than 85% of the original furnishings are incorporated into the finished cubicles; only 1,000 pounds of every 60,000 pounds of furniture received weekly goes back to the landfill.

Cubicles.com also resorts to sustainable practices that make a minimum impact on the environment. Cubicles.com’s powder coat painting process reclaims unused paint and emits fewer toxic chemicals. Discarded materials are recycled or used as shipping material. Even the signature fabrics used in the remanufactured cubicles are actually made from recycled materials like plastic bottles.

An unmistakably high-quality product comes out at the end, one with a surprisingly affordable price tag. At last, Cubicles.com remanufactured office furniture lets you satisfy your inner environmentalist… without alarming your inner accountant.

Green Office Trends

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.”

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