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7 Ways to Design and Set up a More Eco-Friendly Office

If you’re in the designing stages of creating an office for your new business in 2022, you’ll want to consider its impact on the environment.

Creating an environmentally friendly office space wasn’t always a priority in the past. However, with advancements in renewable energy and the creation of new energy-saving devices, it’s become a whole new ball game. Not only is it desirable for an office to be eco-friendly, but it’s also easier than ever to set up.

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Yes, an Eco-Friendly Office Space Is Possible

“Eco-friendly” probably isn’t the first thing most people think of when they think of an office. Others may believe that creating an eco-friendly office isn’t even possible.

With the sustainability movement gaining traction and environmentally friendly measures becoming more and more affordable, it can quite literally pay to go green. Federal, state, and even local governments all offer tax credits to residences and businesses that install renewable energy fixtures. Clean energy has become a huge industry and a significant facet in the movement to decrease the carbon footprint. 

Going green in the office doesn’t have to be as involved as installing solar panels. Even simple changes, such as building your office space to let in more natural light or reducing the number of on-site printers to try and save paper, can go a long way towards sustainability.

Why You Should Consider Creating an Eco-Friendly Office

Even if an eco-friendly office is a practical option, should you take the leap? Here are a few reasons why designing a green office is a good idea (apart from potential benefits to the planet in mind).

It Saves You Money

Going green had a bit of a stigma attached to it in the not-so-distant past. One of the biggest obstacles many companies faced when becoming more eco-friendly was cost. Going green might have been good for the environment, but it wasn’t always that way when it came to the bottom line.

But times have changed, and so has technology. The average cost of a solar panel, for example, has decreased by 90% since 2010. In addition, the rise and ubiquity of smart devices (such as smart plugs and thermostats) can help save electricity and lower utility bills. Green technology has now gotten to the point where it can help the environment, but it can also help you save on overhead costs. 

Employees Are Concerned About It

Employees are increasingly concerned about how eco-friendly their employer is. Not only do studies show that most job seekers want to work for a sustainable company, but they also believe that if a company cares about the environment, it is more likely to care about its employees. Studies also show that sustainability can become a source of company and employee pride.

It Bolsters Your Reputation

With so many folks these days looking to reduce their carbon footprint, designing a new office to be an eco-friendly space has enormous marketing potential.

Employees and potential customers alike are attracted to environmentally friendly missions. A 2021 consumer study found that people, especially younger consumers, were willing to pay a higher price for sustainably-sourced goods.

While that may not apply directly to designing an office, eco-friendly spaces are also a safe real estate bet. According to Zillow, homes with solar installations sold for an average of 4.1% higher in certain areas. 

7 Ways to Create a More Eco-Friendly Office Space

Here are a few key ways that you can design your office space to be more environmentally friendly.

1. Build in Sources of Renewable Energy

With total reliance on renewable energy becoming a feasible reality in the early 2020s, it makes sense to investigate whether or not it can work for you.

One of the best options for creating a source of renewable energy is installing solar panels at the office.

Upfront solar panel installation costs have decreased dramatically over the last few years. More and more businesses are willing to foot the upfront costs of installations because of the established long-term benefits.

Office and commercial buildings are ideal locations for solar panels. Solar panels can be put on the roof of the building or in the parking lot, providing the double benefit of shaded parking.

One traditional obstacle to using solar power has been a lack of energy storage. Solar panels can only collect and convert sunlight into energy when the sun is shining, leaving would-be users out of luck when it comes to cloudy days or nighttime usage.

While this may sound like a cumbersome obstacle, there are actually several options that still make using solar power a viable option. Storage solutions such as solar-plus-storage systems (or simply being connected to the grid as a backup can) remedy that problem.

2. Choose a Commuter-Friendly Location

One positive aspect of the COVID-19 lockdowns was a 17% decrease in carbon dioxide emissions in the global environment. While no one is hoping for lockdowns again anytime soon, this dramatic decrease does show how daily activities such as commuting to work can contribute to air pollution.

For those designing a new office space, considering commuter routes can be essential to making the office space eco-friendly. Consider choosing locales that have easy access to public transportation to contribute to lowering emissions, and encourage employees to carpool, bike, and otherwise use non-car methods to travel to work. You’ll also want to consider setting up shop close to nearby restaurants and places for lunch since this is also another time when people may use their cars.

One part of creating a commuter-friendly office space is ensuring that your office is close to major highways, roadways, train stations, airports, and other transportation hubs to encourage your employees to use more environmentally friendly methods of transportation, thus reducing CO2 emissions for a more eco-friendly workplace

3. Decorate with Live Plants

Make the office green—literally! Using live plants to decorate your office is a great way to beautify your space and an excellent way to create a green office. In addition, indoor plants provide numerous health benefits, such as purifying the air and reducing stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity. Of course, maintaining live plants will take a bit more work, but the benefits may outweigh the costs. 

Read about Indoor Plants You Should Buy

4. Invest in Recycled Furniture and Office Supplies

Using secondhand furniture is a great eco-friendly option, as it reduces waste and landfill use. It’s also a way to furnish your space for less.

Other eco-friendly furniture options include using biodegradable furniture or furniture made from eco-friendly materials. Many furniture outlets offer recycled materials sections, the use of which could help you reduce your carbon footprint.

5. Make Remote Work the Norm

In the post-pandemic era, remote work is starting to make a lot more sense. For some companies, it’s actually become the new default option. Giants such as Zillow and Twitter have the vast majority of their employees work remotely. Others, such as Google, Intuit, and Ford, have adopted the hybrid model going forward.

More and more employees are seeking a job with opportunities to work remotely. Remote work also enables you to purchase or design a smaller office space with less square footage to consider. It might reduce your initial purchase price, reduce utility bills, and help to reduce your company’s carbon footprint.

If you’re concerned about whether you need enough space to have everyone on-site for events and occasions, you can always look into renting a conference room at a restaurant or event venue for the occasion.

6. Use Smart Devices to Save Energy

Using smart devices is a fantastic way to make an eco-friendly office space while still saving money on your utility bills. In addition, smart devices such as smart power strips, smart thermostats, and smart appliances will help your office conserve energy.

Most standard machines use electricity even when powered down, which means you can end up paying for a lot of electricity you don’t use (such as at nighttime or on the weekends). Using a smart device that takes your machines off the grid when they’re not working can help you save a lot of overhead costs in utility bills.

7. Educate Your Employees

Employers that are upfront from the get-go about their mission to be eco-friendly will help recruit employees to the cause from the start. Even employees that aren’t very concerned about the environment will likely understand the desire to save money. You may find that many of your employees will join and appreciate your mission.

Remember that showing concern for the environment translates to many as being active and productive in society. With 74% of employees claiming their job is more fulfilling if they have opportunities to make a positive impact socially and environmentally, and 70% suggesting they’re likely to be more loyal in a workplace that helps them contribute to these issues, educating your employees on your company mission can create loyal and happy employees. 

Creating an Eco-Friendly Office

Designing and creating an eco-friendly office will undoubtedly be more of a challenge than taking the standard route, but it’s proving to be a good choice and a forward-thinking move in 2022. Thanks to advances like solar technology and smart devices, building an eco-friendly office is now more feasible than ever.

Even minor changes, such as buying used furniture or decorating with live plants, can be steps towards making a greener office. As the workforce adapts to hybrid work schedules and climate change becomes an ever-growing concern, it’s certainly a wise strategy. With all of these new advances and gains, you can be eco-friendly while also helping your company’s bottom line.

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