Will Your Office Pass the Green Test?

by Chicago Agent

By Yevgeniy Gutsalo
The world we live in is changing all the time, from the way we live our personal life to the way we do business. New ideas and technology have enhanced and made way for more efficient ways to meet with clients and conduct business in a variety of industries. One of the most recent and largest changes being made is a way to continue doing business while conserving the world’s natural resources. Everything is going green these days. Will your real estate office pass the green test?

Passing the green test does not mean remodeling the office space to make it more energy efficient. There are simple, small things you can do to help improve your office efficiency, which will impress potential clients even if they aren’t into the green movement. Additionally, a green office could help you save money while doing your part to help the environment.

For starters, going green is really a team effort. Whether you are an agent on your own leasing or renting 100 square feet of office space, a home office or a large agency which leases an entire floor, you must make sure that everyone around is aware of the green effort, and what they may do to help. Approaching your colleagues, managing broker, a family member or even your building management is a good first step. There are many different ways to do this, whether it is over dinner, a friendly e-mail or participating in corporate events; getting everyone involved and aware is important.

Chances are if you’re willing to get everyone around you to make a change then you’re already green friendly. If you are using e-mail, or a digital phone system, you are reducing the daily need for paper and maybe eliminating the need to travel for conferences. Another way to reduce paper use is to utilize your computer to keep notes. Many newspapers now allow you to read their versions online. To help reduce eye strain and the need to print, tilt your monitor, the proper tilt can help you be more productive and will help reduce eye strain. It is suggested that the top of the monitor be further away from your eyes than the bottom for the proper tilt. If you do have to print, purchase recycled computer paper. Fax-to-e-mail and sending faxes electronically may eliminate the need to print as well.

Your computer may be easily configured to save on electricity. Often, computers are not turned off at night to allow for updates. An easy way to save is to unplug any add-ons that may waste energy, such as your mouse and keyboard, or even turning off your monitor may be a good idea. Putting a monitor in sleep mode could reduce electricity usage by one-third! There is no need to go out and buy new electronics, but if you are already planning on making a purchase, check to make sure that they are Energy Star efficient. Further, most office equipment is now available in multi-task versions. Visit energystar.gov for information on energy efficient office equipment.

Another step to green your office is to use as much natural light as possible, which can also help boost the morale of everyone in the office. Make sure there is enough light for the amount of work you are doing. A naturally-lit office will allow you to bring plants, which will not only make your office greener, but will also make it much more inviting to potential clients.

The common areas in any office is often an area where with a few minor changes, you can be much more green efficient. Start by encouraging everyone to bring their own mug instead of using paper cups for tea or coffee. Make sure that there are bins to recycle computer paper located next to a copier or fax machine. Providing an electronic shredder along with a recycle bin is a good idea for security purposes and to encourage recycling.
A lot of agents don’t need to come into the office that often. To cut down on fuel emissions, managing brokers shouldn’t allow agents to work from home whenever possible. Another option is a virtual office, which could eliminate the need for office space all together. However, if office space is needed, most business centers do offer temporary or day-to-day office space, along with meeting rooms rentable by the hour.

If you work from home, you may utilize all the techniques mentioned above in your home office. If you are furnishing your home office, there are now many stores that offer sustainable office furniture. The easiest purchase that won’t hurt your wallet is a green office chair. If you are committed to going green, don’t throw your old furniture away! Donate it. There are many charitable organizations that will pick up your furniture for free, and of course there are tax incentives.

These are just a few ideas to help you get started on a green office. You can have a “green” office that makes your employees and/or yourself feel great, too. After taking a look at these ideas, see where you stack up, and if you passed the green office test. Remember, going green is great for the environment, and often great for your company’s wallet as well.

Yevgeniy Gutsalo is an office manager for Corporate Suites Business Centers — www.csbcenters.com — a New York City-based business center operator, providing state-of-the-art office space, ideal for start-ups, multi-city organizations and small users as well as virtual office and meeting room services for organizations worldwide. He may be reached at info@csbcenters.com or 212.512.0500.

Copyright 2008 Agent Publishing LLC

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