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Your Role in a Sustainable Workplace

A Sustainable Office

There are many ways you, as an employee, can contribute to a sustainable workplace, from reducing energy use to reusing office furniture. Additionally, many of these same sustainable workplace practices can be used in the home to save money and preserve natural resources.

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Energy Use

compact fluorescent light bulb A typical desktop system with an LCD panel that is left on around the clock can easily consume over $100 worth of power a year. Offices use a tremendous amount of energy from lighting to computers to appliances. There are many ways to reduce energy use at offices; some like changing out light bulbs can save a considerable amount of energy and thus money. Here are some other good ideas for reducing energy use:

  • Use standby modes in electronic equipment and copiers.
  • Turn off computers at night and turn off monitors when you leave your desk.
  • Plug all desktop electronics into a power strip for easy turn off at the end of the day.
  • Use more efficient forms of lighting. Some examples include day lighting and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
  • Turn off lights when finished in a room.
  • Use energy efficient appliances, such as refrigerators and microwaves.
Energy Trust of Oregon
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commuting by bike A typical household spends 18 percent of its income in driving costs – more than it spends on food (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Using alternative forms of commuting such as walking, biking, public transit, carpooling, and/or vanpooling saves money, time, and the environment.

Saving Money – As the price of gas increases, using alternatives to driving alone to work will save you money.

Saving Time – How much time do you spend commuting to work? Do you wish you could spend that time getting work done, reading the newspaper, or getting your exercise for the day? Using alternatives such as carpooling and biking or walking lets you accomplish more during the same time.

Saving the Environment – Did you know that 1 gallon of gas burned is equivalent to 20lbs. of carbon dioxide? Think about how much carbon dioxide you can keep out of the atmosphere if we all reduce one drive alone per month.

Employee Transportation Options
More transportation options

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Materials Use

The average US office worker uses an estimated 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year. Depending on the manufacturing technology, making one sheet of paper can use more than 13 ounces of water. Paper use represents a large percentage of materials used at an office, but it is important to look at the best and most efficient use of all products and materials from office supplies to office furniture.

  • Print double-sided.
  • Make it a habit to use both sides of every piece of paper - use unneeded single-sided documents as scratch paper.
  • When possible, recycle paper, cardboard, plastics, and other materials.
  • Find ways to reuse, refurbish and/or recycle office supplies and furniture.
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Safety and Wellness

safety matters logo A sustainable workplace is more than just recycling materials and biking to work, although those are notable measures. Employees are the cornerstone of implementing sustainability: employees need a safe, healthy, and diverse work environment that continuously reduces risk of injury and promotes a respectful workplace.

  • Implement and participate in employee safety trainings.
  • Engage employees in fitness and wellness activities.
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More Resources

Read the City of Portland Office of Sustainable Development's Green Office Guide

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