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3 Easy Ways To Make Your Office More Eco-friendly

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Office by J Unrau via flickr

2016 is set to become the hottest year on record, indicating that we’re feeling the effects of global warming and adds a renewed push globally to think about how green we’re being, especially at the office.

Apart from our homes we spend most of our time at work, whether that’s in serviced offices, co-working spaces, or big office buildings. Office workers in the UK spend around 5 years of their lives sat at their desk. Surely it’s time we think about our office, it’s effect on us, our colleagues and our environment.

Here are three quick, easy, and cheap ways that could help cut your carbon footprint and might just make your office a better place to work.

Hit the off switch

According to the Carbon Trust, office equipment accounts for around 20% of energy consumption in the workplace.

Sounds simple, but switching off a single office light at the end of the working day can save enough energy in a year to heat a home for almost 5 months. Speaking of lights, switching to energy efficient light bulbs, such as CFL and LED bulbs, will make them last much longer, and they will use less energy.

To switch off, you need to be switched on. Have clear and concise rules about who switches off what. Serviced offices provider, Easy Offices point out that there are some clear ways we should be more energy efficient in the office, including complete shutdowns of computers and non-essential electricals at the end of every day. You could have someone who is responsible for checking plugs for the office, such as a last one out rule, or make it the responsibility of each individual and carry out checks every week. This is particularly important in serviced offices where there are numerous individual businesses and personal computers.

Unplugging computers is something we can do that takes up only a small amount of time, and very little effort. It will even save you money in the long run on electrical bills. Even by putting your laptop on sleep mode while you’re not using it, you can save up to 70% of its electricity consumption. Add on that extra 30% saved by switching off at the end of the day and you’re really working to minimise wasted energy in your office.

Encourage employees to recycle

Recycling at work is a simple idea but it takes commitment to implement. Making sure office employees are aware of the correct bins to use, as well as what they can actually place within them, will require putting up clear signs and  regularly enforcing the rules.

If you’re in a serviced office, ask the manager what they can recycle or if they can implement a policy. There is no reason why you can’t the catalyst for change in even a rented office environment.

Offices also build up a fair amount of food waste, which you might not think to try and recycle. Tea bags and fruit peelings are recyclable, and can even be cheaper than sending food waste to the landfill.

But it’s not all about being a rule maker. You can get creative with your work recycling too, some offices even use old discarded cds (remember them?) as coffee cup coasters. Reuse is a particularly good way of being green and can even let you and your colleagues have a bit of fun crafting.

Whatever way you choose to tackle your office’s carbon footprint, make sure everyone’s involved. Like any successful venture, communication and teamwork are key.

Revolutionise your commute

Not all the energy waste happens in the office. Your commute has a huge impact on the environment and potential knock on effects on your health.

If you drive to work, why not car-share? Riding to work with a colleague will immediately reduce the impact of your commute on the environment by 50%. It will also cut congestion, pollution and costs that usually accompany the daily drive into work.

Small businesses owners and startups can help reduce their impact, staying a bit more on the green side by looking at serviced offices or meeting rooms. If you don’t need to have an office, or a space to meet clients on a daily basis or only seasonally, then maybe you don’t need a permanent space. This will minimise your carbon footprint and save you travel time.

Even better than ride-sharing, or even public transport, is ditching the harmful fuel burning altogether. Cycling or walking into work will not only help tackle a sedentary lifestyle but could also help your bank balance too.

 

Energy

Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?

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sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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Energy

7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees

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As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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