Taking public transportation to work conserves energy and provides an opportunity for you to get a little exercise.

By Brett Sullivan

Electric companies send customers monthly home energy reports that compare their electricity usage to all nearby neighbors and efficient neighbors.  Why is it that these same reports are not being sent to local businesses to allow insight into how their business’s electricity usage compares to other businesses in the area?  Could healthy competition amongst company employees help reduce waste and unnecessary energy?

To the cheers of many followers, more and more companies recently have an increased focus on corporate social responsibility and reducing their carbon footprint.  As a consultant working within numerous companies, I have seen first-hand many initiatives employers take to save energy and money.  This got me thinking…how could I green-up my workplace over the course of the day to help my firm be considered an energy efficient business compared to the competition?

Below are some ideas that could help contribute to decreased energy consumption.  By accomplishing some of the following, my employer and I (and all of us who work outside our homes) could do our part to “green-up” the workplace.

Early Morning


–        Bringing lunch to work in reusable containers

–        When traveling to the office, using public transportation, carpooling, biking, walking, kayaking, etc.

–        Whenever possible, telecommuting and working from home.  Using instant messaging, video conferencing, and other innovative workflow tools make effective telecommuting a reality


–        Using smart power strips that cut power to devices to save energy and reduce internal heat gain in the office building

–        Buying office supplies/raw materials/etc. in bulk so that shipping and packaging waste are reduced

–        Reusing shipping boxes and packaging materials



–        Electing to enter the building through revolving doors vs. conventional methods to decrease AC/heat escaping

–        Taking the stairs instead of an elevator

–        Setting the computer to power saving mode to draw less power when not actively in use

–        Whenever practical, choosing to keep communications digital; the ‘greenest’ paper is  no paper


–        Offering laptops instead of desktop computers to employees can result in significant cost savings on electricity bills

–        Choosing to offer office supplies made of recycled materials (pens, paper, pencils, refillable markers)

–        When printing is necessary, helping to reduce paper consumption by setting printers to default to double-sided printing

–        Getting fair trade coffee for the break room

–        Ensuring employees easy access to recycling bins

–        Replacing paper cups with mugs or glasses for water/coffee/tea consumption

–        Keeping office air temperature around 78 degrees during the summer to keep productivity high and energy bills low.  Likewise, setting the office thermostat between 65 and 68 during the day/business hours

–        Recommending Energy Star certified office equipment  and, where practical, replacing incandescent lamps with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)



–        Reviewing documents onscreen rather than printing them out

–        Choosing more vegetarian options at lunch to help save water, energy, etc.

–        Recycling scrap paper

–        Raising the blinds to allow maximum sunlight to enter the room to reduce dependency on lights

–        Including in  email signature a reminder to the recipient to not print the email unless necessary


–        Installing auto lighting occupancy sensors that automatically turn lights on or off

–        Electing to offer hand dryers over paper towels in bathrooms/kitchens

–        Purchasing multi-function devices that use less energy than separate faxes/printers/scanners

–        Setting the thermostat above 80 degrees during unoccupied times in the summer.  Likewise, setting the thermostat at 60 to 65 degrees during unoccupied times in the winter.

Early Evening


–        If buying new clothes, purchasing clothes made with organic or recycled fibers and avoiding clothes that need to be dry cleaned; if dry cleaning is necessary, seeking out a local “green” dry cleaner

–        Purchasing reusable bags to bring  lunch to work

–        Mending  shoes/clothing instead of purchasing new


–        Configuring computers to energy-saving settings

–        Recycling or donating old computers and parts instead of placing them in the trash

–        Installing timers on internal and external office lights to shutoff after a certain hour

–        Offering biodegradable cleaning agents for the custodial staff

Who knows, maybe our community could be the next City of San Francisco with the goal of zero waste by the year 2020!


Brett Sullivan is a member of the Medford Energy Committee who lives in the Wellington Circle area of Medford.

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