What does a green office space actually mean?

With the climate crisis front and center of many company initiatives today, the idea of a green office is increasingly playing an important role in ideas of office space too.

Office 101

June 22, 2022

3 min read

A green office in Berlin, Germany.

Eco-friendly, sustainable office space, or green office? With the climate crisis front and center of many company initiatives today, the idea of a green office is increasingly playing an important role in ideas of office space too. As companies look towards reducing emissions in their products, many are also looking towards office space design as a key way to be more environmentally conscious.

One thing is for sure: implementing green improvements to your office design has a beneficial impact on the whole—not only for energy costs and overall climate mitigation, but also on employee wellbeing and productivity. Overall, compared to offices that have not made strides in green office improvements, a green office is more comfortable to work in, has great effects on air quality, and uses less energy. But there’s a more interesting reason to go green: according to Unily’s 2020 Future of the Sustainable Workplace report, of the 2,000 office workers surveyed, 65% were more likely to work for a company with a strong environmental policy.

But how can small and mid-size businesses become green? It may sound like a daunting task, but even small changes can help your office breathe sustainability. Here are a few ways you can make your office space more environmentally friendly.

5 ways to make your office space more eco-friendly

1. Think about what materials you use on a daily basis

It’s an easy first step. Ask yourself the following questions: what is my office actually made out of? What materials do we use day in and day out? Material efficiency, as it’s often called, is crucial to any green building, and especially green offices. What does that mean on a practical level? It means considering selecting materials that are sustainable, for both exterior and interior designs—materials that sport a lower level of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) or that are made from a high percentage of recycled content. It also means thinking about the materials of your technology. When your interior begins to show signs of wear, switch to a greener material like wood, or consider switching to efficient LED lighting also the next time your light bulb goes out. Even these simple steps help you cut back on carbon emissions.

2. Measure your waste impact

In order to mitigate their carbon footprint, many companies are implementing climate officers to come up with eco-solutions. One of the key elements in their work is measurement. Climate officers aside, there are a few easy steps that companies can take to measure their waste impact: keeping track of how much electricity an office uses, for example, is a great way to start. Once you have initial data points, it becomes easier to plan reduction goals and other targets that your company may want to hit.

3. Redecorate your office space with more greenery

Plants are more than just pretty to look at. Many studies have concluded that plants reduce workplace stress to a very noticeable degree—and did you know that the presence of beautiful plants increases workplace productivity? Plants such as spider plants, peace lilies, and bamboo palms, are all great choices: they produce enough oxygen to offset any chemicals released into the air by new office furnishings. In addition, indoor plants have a similar effect on employee wellbeing and productivity as natural light.

4. Reduce your energy consumption across the board

It’s more than just shutting off the lights—your business can also benefit from other forms of energy reduction, too. Even switching off your screen before you head out for the day can have a beneficial impact on your carbon footprint (imagine, for a second, if all 100 of your colleagues did the same). Meanwhile, having a motion-activated light switch in the bathroom ensures that nobody accidentally leaves the light on all night long. Lastly, the small things count too, including making sure that heating, kitchen appliances, and TVs are all shut off after a long day.

5. Introduce monthly green challenges

Everybody likes a challenge—especially a green one. How about a month without using a plastic cup? Or how about an office challenge to cut back on the use of paper? Rallying around these targets also incentivizes employees and managers alike to make their office space the greenest it can be.

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