Rent for one of the Green Star-rated offices may be at a premium but running costs can be extremely low, so a cost-price analysis of payback is prudent. For small businesses, consider taking shared space such as that offered by Biz Dojo in the Ironbank, or Movers & Shakers in Britomart. Consider your location in terms of your employees being able to get to work on public transport.
The lighting bill of a typical commercial office makes up almost one third of the electricity usage. Install lighting zoning (lights only switch on in areas where there are people), tweak the lux levels appropriate to the natural light levels, and replace old bulbs with LED lighting wherever possible.
Cleaning companies often use a bewildering cocktail of chemicals to clean your premises, but there are companies out there committed to using only plant-based, non-toxic cleaning materials. Look out for cleaning companies which use products certified by a third party, such as Environmental Choice.
Consider what happens to your office furniture at the end of its useful life. It may be recycled, re-purposed, or simply thrown into landfill. Companies such as Herman Miller create Cradle to Cradle-certified chairs and office furniture which is designed to be infinitely recycled. Unison Workspaces in Parnell are the New Zealand stockists of Herman Miller products. Alternatively look at recycled options, such as the furniture made by Rekindle.
Your office carpet is another product which lasts a few years and then may end up in landfill. Consider using products that are recycled at the end of their life, such as the Cradle to Cradle-certified Interface flooring.
The paperless office has proven to be, as yet, a fantasy, but companies are pursuing that ideal. Companies which employ 'hot desks' (where employees don't have their own desk, but can sit at any terminal and log in), find that employees are better at keeping digital records of what they need, and printing costs are reduced. If you do require a printer/copier, choose one with good environmental credentials; able to print on both sides, and a toner collection and recycling programme.
Greenery in the office cleans and filters the air, and creates a sense of wellbeing. Companies such as Green Air, Vertical Garden, Natural Habitats, Vertical Plants and Hanging Gardens all specialise in different green wall designs which will bring the office to life.
The procurement of office goods can ensure a greening of your supply chain. Toiletries, sanitary paper (such as Greencane), hand dryers etc all have eco friendly options. Install low-flow shower heads and taps in your bathrooms.
In your office kitchen why not buy Fairtrade tea and coffee, which ensures growers get a fair price for their produce, and a community development fund is contributed to? Banish single-use plastics, plastic containers and stirrers, opting instead for good old plates, cups and steel cutlery. Set up a three-bin system for recyclables, organic waste and landfill.
Look out for Energy Star equipment - it is in the top 10 per cent of energy efficient models on the market. Ensure computers are shut down at the end of the day, rather than in 'sleep' mode. Opt for cloud computing where possible, rather than have large banks of energy-sapping servers.
Ensure appropriate collection and recycling of e-waste. Hungry Bin worm farms from Onehunga company Low Impact have been installed in many offices around Auckland, with only around four bins required to process the organic waste of 125 people. They can sit in a basement and either are managed by staff, or the company will manage their maintenance and sale of compost and liquid fertiliser. Payback times vary from two to five years.
Your fleet vehicles are the moving advertisement for your business. Think of Westpac's fleet of hybrid cars, or the Clean Green Taxi company. Huge savings can be made across the fleet with hybrids, plug-in hybrids, or simply small engines. Insist on five-star safety standards, at least four-star fuel efficiency standards and Euro 5 or equivalent emission standards.
Where possible use Skype or other digital meeting technologies rather than travel to meetings.
Educate all staff on all policies and procedures of a green office. By giving ownership of the philosophy to staff, further efficiencies can be gained and operating costs reduced.
Want to get certified?
• Environmental Choice: This office certification, launched last year, covers all angles for becoming a green office. It's a rigorous procedure, and covers energy, waste, air and water quality, consumables, ICT equipment and fit-out.
• CarboNZero: This certification was developed in New Zealand, but is conferred internationally. CarboNZero organisations go through a five-step auditing, mitigation and communication programme, with the remainder of the carbon costs offset.
• CEMARS: The lighter side of CarboNZero, CEMARS-certified businesses measure and reduce their carbon footprint but aren't required to offset emissions.
• Enviro-Mark: This programme provides resources and support to implement a credible and effective environmental management system. The programme, which is used by APN Print, is owned and managed by Enviro-Mark Solutions, a whollyowned subsidiary of Landcare Research, a Government-owned Crown Research Institute.