Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Work it!

More and more people are taking their green philosophy and practices to work. They refuse to check their morals and beliefs at the door and are helping businesses take the lead on climate change.

Likewise, businesses are finding that incorporating green practices can save them money, reduce liability, increase the health and well-being of occupants, and raise employee performance.

Thus, National Public Health Week is the perfect time to look at the connections between climate change, health and your workplace. We spend 90 percent of our time indoors, and 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions result from commercial office buildings. In fact, that is the largest segment of emissions in Arlington, Va. — not transportation, surprisingly.

Here in Arlington, under the leadership of Paul Ferguson and the Arlington County Board, we formed the Fresh Arlington Initiative to Reduce Emissions program, commonly known as Fresh AIRE. The program is designed to help businesses and residents save money and leave a lighter footprint on the environment through energy efficiency and green building, recycling, mass transit and recycling.

Here are a few tips for your office to get you moving in the right direction and to help you do your part!

1. Form a green team and set organizational goals.
2. Evaluate your current practices (bulk purchasing, recycling, energy conservation, water conservation, etc). Changing some of these practices are good for the planet and can save you money in the process.
3. Create an action plan.
4. Dive in!

Some ideas:

1. Use reusable mugs, plates and flatware.
2. Implement double-sided printing as the rule, rather than the exception.
3. Make use of tap water or filtered tap water rather than bottles.
4. Use mass transit, ride your bike and walk to work.
5. Set your computer monitor to sleep after 10 minutes, not screen save.
6. Monitor your heating, cooling and water bills. If they’re included in your rent, consider forming an entire building green team to monitor overall building performance with the goal of reducing energy, water and waste.
7. Evaluate Energy Star efficiency standards as well as green building standards for commercial buildings, known as the LEED system, for possible application to your office to show your commitment.

Adam Segel-Moss, LEED AP
Green Building Outreach Coordinator, Fresh AIRE
Arlington County, Va., Department of Environmental Services

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