Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Creating green offices

ALONG with the changing times there is a new development in the trend of office interior design, equipment, furniture and accessories. Some still have the classic trend, but many go for the modern and minimalist one.

There is another trend that has caught the attention of many office owners, namely green offices, that is, those with environmentally friendly equipment. Green is in due to the issue of global warming.

One architect even said that the year 2010 will be a transitional period from purely minimalist to minimalist plus green concept. “This means that the route is toward sustainable design, meaning energy saving design,” he said.

A green office, of course, has space for plants and uses natural light as much as possible, so is less dependent on electricity, etc. The use of environmentally friendly office equipment will indicate participation in green activities, so an office not only becomes more comfortable but the green concept will reduce the possibility of environmental damage.

Currently, office equipment manufacturers are producing environmentally friendly products based on the green concept, such as furniture not made out of natural materials like wood, energy saving computers (laptops replacing desktops, for instance), compact and space saving photocopy machines as well as energy saving lights.

Actually, it is not too difficult or too costly to create an environmentally friendly office. The management and the employees should adhere to the 4R formula: reduce (reduce using products that use too much energy), reuse (use things that can be used again), recycle (recycle garbage or trash), and refuse (refuse to use products that are harmful to the environment).

Green office equipment can only be useful when the users have an environmentally friendly discipline or lifestyle. In the morning and afternoon, curtains should be opened to let in sunlight for sufficient lighting so that there is no need for electrical lighting.

The windows can also be opened wide to let in fresh air so air conditioners can be switched off.

Computers should be set on energy saving mode and the monitor switched off when not in use for an extended period of time and completely switched off when you leave the office. Printers and scanners should only be switched on when required.

Office equipment, such air conditioners, computers, televisions and so forth should be unplugged when not in use because they still consume electricity in standby mode. It is better to use an extension cord with an on-off switch so that you can conveniently switch off appliances.

Neon lamps are energy savers and should be installed where lighting is most required, although where possible, rely on natural lighting through windows. Always switch off the lights in vacant rooms such as meeting rooms, toilet areas, storage rooms and so forth.

All electronic office equipment, such as computers and air conditioners as well as lighting, consume energy for eight hours or more during office hours, so it is advisable to reduce overtime or working longer hours so that the equipment does not consume more energy.

In the case of batteries, rechargeable batteries should be used when possible, such as for clocks, tape recorders and calculators. By recharging, you can reduce waste, particularly since discarded used batteries are harmful to the environment.

Maximizing the use of modern technology is a characteristic of the green office. Doing more work online reduces paper usage. Meeting invitations, for example, can be emailed to invitees. The same goes for meeting reports, work evaluations, etc. Data files do not have to be kept in hard copy but can be saved on a computer and backup files saved on a USB or CD.

You should gradually reduce the use of photocopy and fax machines, since documents, newspaper articles, etc. can be scanned. Indeed it is rather difficult at first break the “paper habit” but it is possible step by step. A printer setting that is more environmentally friendly can also be used, such as pages per sheet.

If the figure 2 is typed in the setting, two file pages will be simultaneously printed on one page. And never forget to print on both sides of a sheet of paper. If you have lots of paper that has been printed on one side only, you can keep it for later use as memo paper. A green office, of course, has space for plants and uses natural light as much as possible, so is less dependent on electricity, etc. (Burhanuddin Abe)

The Jakarta Post, July 21, 2010

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