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.

Green Building Template in Hotel Chain’s Future.

Green buildings are so mainstream now, even hotel chains are getting into the act. Marriott International revealed an ambitious green hotel portfolio last week, a plan underpinned by a green hotel prototype that is pre-certified LEED-compliant.

The new hotel design will be available in April 2010, implemented on the Courtyard Settler’s Ridge property in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As Marriott learns from the prototype’s example, more green hotels will be built as part of a tenfold expansion planned over the next five years.

Marriott claims it can save up to $100,000 in construction expenses, and reduce design time by six months. The green hotels built using the template will use up to a fourth less energy and water compared to the average hotel.  (read more)

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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Herman Miller: Where Green Manufacturing is Company Tradition.

Herman Miller walks the talk where the green office is concerned.

By 2020, the company plans to minimize solid, air, and water emissions; establish a LEED silver certification for its buildings; use 100% green energy; and sell 100% DfE-approved products.

This builds on a proud Herman Miller company tradition of sustainable design and construction – its headquarters was recognized as one of the first “green” office and manufacturing complexes in the U.S., with corresponding high numbers in employee productivity.

So we’re only following in the revered Herman Miller way when we at Cubicles.com offer remanufactured Herman Miller cubicles in our product lineup.

Our remanufactured cubicles look brand-new, but have been painstakingly reconstructed from pre-used Herman Miller cubes; they’re engineered to look, feel, and work like the brand-new product!

Just look at the extremes we reach to ensure that our cubicles are made with as little impact to the environment as possible:

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Obama, the Green President.

The President of the United States is serious when he says the environment is a top priority of his administration. This week, the President’s walking-the-talk on green issues comes through General Motors, and interestingly enough, the White House.

At a GM plant in Ohio, President Obama hailed the new fuel economy standards that would decrease greenhouse gases and provide clear directions for auto designers.

“For too long,” the president told the autoworkers, “our auto companies faced uncertain and conflicting fuel economy standards. That made it difficult for you to plan down the road. That’s why, today, we are launching—for the first time in history—a new national standard aimed at both increasing gas mileage and decreasing greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks sold in America. This action will give our auto companies some long-overdue clarity, stability, and predictability.”

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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.

Getting a Green Office Makeover: Start Small!

You can’t see it from the outside, but the Empire State Building is transforming itself into an eco-friendly building, thanks to a $20 million green office makeover that aims to cut its energy consumption by almost 40%.

By current estimates, its transformation into a green office will reduce the Empire State Building’s annual CO2 emissions by some 105,000 metric tons.

That’s a major step, considering that the tower’s emerald lights on St. Patrick’s day were about as green as it normally got before now!

There’s a simple objective behind any green office makeover, even one as expansive as the Empire State Building’s: reduce the organization’s impact on the environment. Awareness is job number one – most organizations aren’t even conscious of their massive footprint on Mother Earth.

“We depend on paper, plastic and other materials to communicate and transmit goods,” says Annex Brands marketing VP Steve Goble. “Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to lose sight of the amount of resources we use when completing these tasks, but by taking a few simple steps, people can greatly reduce excess waste.”

Taking steps to a green office could be as simple as recycling paper, using electronics with the Energy Star power feature, switching appliances off at the power source (instead of letting them “sleep”, draining even more energy), and installing eco-friendly office lighting.    (read more)

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.

To Green or Not to Green?

Office spaces these days aspire to be both efficient and environment-friendly… but achieving both takes some doing. Yes, it’s important to make an office more productive, but how can you do that in a greener, more earth-friendly way? How do you furnish your office and boost employee morale, without leaving the planet in the dumpster?

It’s actually easier than you think. Here are ten ways you can have your earth-friendly cake and eat it too, by choosing remanufactured office cubicles:

1. Minimize your impact on the environment with green furniture. Remanufactured office furniture rescues old furnishings from the landfill or the incinerator, minimizing the impact of these items on the environment. Recycled furniture gets taken out of the waste cycle, and placed back on the consumer market. This leads to less waste and fewer pollutants released into the atmosphere.

2. Green furniture is more cost-effective. Remanufactured office furniture looks and performs just like its brand new counterparts; yet offer up to 50% savings compared to new. This leaves you with more funds to allocate to more essential areas of your budget – something you need in a recession-plagued economy!

3. Green furniture is just as good – if not better – than brand new. Modern remanufacturing techniques have raised the bar for remanufactured office furniture. Green furniture is reassembled to match brand new office furniture in both form and function – replacing worn parts and discolored fabrics, refinishing desktops, and repainting panels. The end result is just as good as brand-new in all respects – with the added bonus of knowing you’ve done your part to save the earth!

4. Green furniture increases your use of recycled materials. Office furniture is typically replaced within a period of 10 years, long before any serious wear occurs. This explains the high reusability rate of remanufactured office furniture – more than 85% of the original material makes it into the remanufactured product. The other 15% consists of material recycled from other sources – the new fabrics used by Cubicles.com in their remanufactured cubicles are actually made from recycled plastic bottles.

5. When you buy green furniture, you contribute to a fast-growing sector of the economy. The office furniture remanufacturing industry is a significant sector of the commercial furniture business, earning about $1.2 billion in revenues a year. The business continues to grow, aided by new remanufacturing techniques and a growing supply of raw material. This just goes to show that green furniture isn’t just a worthwhile environmental goal – it’s good business, too.

6. Green furniture offers a constantly expanding product line. The recession has caused an increase in the supply of cubicles on the market, resulting in an increase in both supply and demand for remanufactured office furniture. The choices for conscientious businesses have never been greater, or more affordable.

7. A green office leads to less waste. Remanufactured office furniture extends the life of office furniture, the casualties of a wasteful procurement industry. It’s estimated that U.S. companies buy about 3 million desks, 16.5 million chairs, 4.5 million tables, and 11 million file cabinets a year – with half of this amount reaching the dumpsters at the same time. Remanufactured furniture short-circuits this process – items are spared from a pollution-spewing fate and put back to good use, for less than the cost of buying brand-new furniture.

8. Green furniture is good for your health. Think of all the emissions produced in the manufacture of brand new office furniture – volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a common byproduct of the furniture making process, contributing to air pollution and extracting an equivalent cost to manufacturers and end-users alike. Green office producers like Cubicles.com use less harmful manufacturing techniques, like using powder-based finishing coats that create less waste and minimize VOC emissions.

9. Green furniture is flexible and grows with your company. Modern cubicles are designed for quick disassembly, and the remanufactured cubicles derived from them are no less flexible. The lower price point attached to these items increases the end-user’s latitude for choice, enabling them to pursue more ambitious solutions with a smaller budget at hand.

10. Using recycled furniture advertises your company’s commitment to corporate responsibility. There’s great cachet in being the first business on your block to embrace green office furnishing practices – this gives you a great talking point for clients, and also provides a foothold for increased office morale. After all, isn’t it wonderful to work for a company that serves a greater purpose than just the bottom line?

"Clean and Green" makes headway in office furnishing

If you think “doing green business” is just a passing fashion, you’ve got another think coming – green trends have created a $227 billion a year marketplace for sustainable products and services, a figure estimated to hit the $1 trillion mark by 2020.

This is a large (and growing) market – and their clout is making itself felt in the $10-billion-dollar office furniture industry. Increasing attention is being paid to how the process of creating office furniture impacts the environment.

For example, the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released during the production process may contribute to air pollution and health problems down the road.

Also, the average 10-year lifespan of office furniture raises concerns that a great volume of furnishings are sent to the landfills long before they’re due.

As a result, remanufactured furniture is looking better and better. New techniques in refurbishing office furniture create a whole new world of possibilities for environment-conscious companies.

Remanufacturing companies take previously used cubicles and other office furniture, replace the fabrics and work surfaces, and reassemble them again, the end result costing up to 70% less than equivalent brand-new furniture. A whole office can be remodeled this way, at a fraction of the cost of using new cubicles.

Cubicles.com’s line of cubicles takes this idea of value engineering for the earth’s sake and runs with it. By sticking to a simple yet all-encompassing philosophy of reducing, reusing, and recycling as much as possible from the original material, Cubicles.com manages to reuse up to 85% of the source into its remanufactured furniture.

Cubicles.com offers a wide range of pre-owned models sourced from respected brands like Herman Miller, Knoll & Steelcase. The look, feel, and function are almost indistinguishable from brand-new cubicles – you wouldn’t even know it was remanufactured, green furniture if you weren’t told it was.

Saving the earth isn’t just a feel-good platitude; it’s good business. As more workers wake up to the impact their enterprises are making on the Earth, companies like Cubicles.com are stepping up to help them do their part for the environment, and save big in the process.