Making your office more environmentally-friendly is a win-win situation. Your business wins by saving energy costs and the environment wins because you’re conserving limited resources.

In addition, customers often prefer working with an ecologically friendly business than one that is indifferent to the impact it has on its environment. It’s not uncommon to find many businesses actually advertising that they run a green business.

It can be overwhelming figuring out where to begin. The best way is to start by evaluating your current carbon consumption. This will then lead to ideas about what proactive steps to take.

Establish Benchmarks

All you have to do to figure out your office carbon footprint is to hire a carbon emissions expert to do a review. Sometimes, too, you might want to designate a manager to serve as a corporate ecologist.

This step of getting a reading of your current situation will point you in the right direction. You will know where you stand and what to improve. Once you have a benchmark of the current number of greenhouse gases generated, it’s fairly straightforward to choose the most efficient strategy.

5 Suggested Strategies

With that in mind, here are some strategies businesses often take to start improving their carbon footprint:

  1. Use electronic payroll.

Paper-based wage payments and statements use up a lot of paper. In addition, since they are complex, it increases costs. The way to get out of this dilemma of paying more for increasing inefficiencies is to adopt electronic payroll and way statement methods. You will then have paperless pay methods like pay cards, online statements, and other payment options. This will make it much easier and more cost-effective to manage pay structures in different departments, as well as pay employees with different payment requirements.

  1. Upgrade office energy usage.

Even simple upgrades will make a difference. For instance, you could get better blinds and improve windows. You could do maintenance on your central heating system. And you could switch from inefficient light bulbs to efficient ones by replacing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. All these changes will save electricity and reduce your eclectic bill.

Besides making physical changes to how your office uses energy, you could encourage behavior changes in how staff uses the office.

At the end of the working day, everyone can switch off everything. We’re talking all lights, office equipment, and kitchen appliances.

Also, during working hours, make sure that all the equipment is set for at its energy saving mode. This means that when the equipment is not being used, it quickly goes into sleep mode.

Here is an efficient way to power down suggested by Green America: “An easy way to turn off all your equipment at once is to plug it all into one surge protector with an on/off switch. According to the Energy Star program, activating sleep settings on just one computer can prevent about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year.”

  1. Encourage telecommuting.

Many office tasks can easily be done at home. By encouraging staff to spend less time in the office and more time at home, everyone will be happier. So long as you use some way to measure productivity-for instance, quantifiable work done-this could work out well.

With Skype and office collaboration software, it should be easy to keep the communication lines open.

How much telecommuting you should do, depends on your business. At a minimum, you can arrange to do it one day a week or one day a month. This simple step of letting people work from home will result in fewer cars on the road and less office electricity consumption.

  1. Buy Energy Star office products.

Office equipment that is energy efficient bears an Energy Star label. This initiative by the Environmental Protection Agency labels office equipment that is more energy efficient than standard models.

These products not only consume less energy, but they also have features that conserve energy. For instance, the printer can print on both sides of a sheet of paper.

An office that uses only Energy Star computers, monitors, printers, and faxes can save enough electricity in a year to light the office for four years.

  1. Reduce business travel costs.

Business travel used to be necessary, but unless you are heading out to a trade show, meeting a new client in person, or doing a site visit, you can now conduct a lot of meetings through video-conferencing and collaboration software.

By not traveling as much, you will save carbon footprints associated with travel by road or air. You will also save commuting time and travel expenses.

Measure Progress

Since you’ve already done an assessment of your carbon footprint and created benchmarks, you’ll be able to measure progress. Work on a timetable to give each strategy a chance to work. If you did not achieve your goals, you can either tweak your existing strategies or add more strategies. When you think about it, you will find many ways of saving money both in your personal life and your business.

Greening your office just makes good business sense. Besides improving the environment, you will also be lowering many of your overheads and improving your business’s cash flow.