Everything is coming up green these days. We have hybrid cars, natural cosmetics, organic produce — why not environmentally friendly cubicles? But greening your office isn’t as simple as cutting out a few chemicals or minimizing the use of fossil fuels. If you want a truly earth conscious office, you’ll need to follow these steps.
1. Recycle … everything.
We don’t just mean your soda cans and waste paper. The greenest offices these days are constructed, walls to furnishings, from recycled materials. National Office Furniture’s new showroom in Dallas is a good example: 75 percent of the construction waste from the project was recycled, instead of dumped in a landfill.
2. LEED certification.
“LEED certification” is one of those terms that everyone knows, and knows is supposedly good, but no one can define. Turns out, the acronym stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which is a somewhat cumbersome way to describe green building certification. “Leadership” makes it sound like there’s an election, or at least a rigorous job interview, before one can get a building certified, but it’s actually an application process. Certified buildings must be in compliance with a number of different criteria set out by the US Green Building council or its equivalent. Points considered include indoor environmental quality, water efficiency, and energy and atmosphere.
3. Low-VOC paint.
File this under “everything awesome is bad for you”: You know that fresh paint smell? The one that makes you think of clean laundry and bleach and new stuff? Yeah, that’s terrible for you. Standard paint contains up to 10,000 chemicals, at least 300 of them toxic. Low-VOC paint is a good alternative.
4. Natural light.
This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many companies don’t think about light and air when they design their space. Natural light helps the body process vitamin D, which is essential for bone development and not being bummed out all the time.
5. Eco-savvy workers.
Having an environmentally-friendly environment is important. But it won’t do your company much good in its quest for greenness if your employees are tossing their recyclables out the window and leaving on all the lights in empty conference rooms. If you really want to be a green company, you’ll have to educate your workers. Hey, no one ever said it was easy being green.
Images: 1. http://www.worldinteriordesignnetwork.com, 2. http://blogs.scottarboretum.org, 3. http://www.flickr.com/photos/duncan/, 4. http://thebeginner.wordpress.com/2007/08/28/sitting-arrangements/, 5. http://www.maryannjohanson.com