Sustainability made simple

Green Offices: Shaping Healthy, Sustainable Workplaces in 2022

green offices
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / lukasbieri

Green offices prioritize sustainability in the workplace. Here are the benefits of establishing a green office and how companies and organizations can get started.

What Are Green Offices?

The green office concept is a model for building a sustainable environmental management system in your workplace or organization. It reduces an office’s carbon footprint and uses natural resources to create eco-friendly working conditions. The goal of a green office is to create healthy environments, conserve energy and reduce pollution – necessary steps toward sustainable development. Some examples of green offices in the US include the Almaden Tower in San Jose, the Global Ecology Research Center at Stanford University and Heifer International in Little Rock.

The WWF Green Office program, established in 2002, is a practical environmental management system. Organizations that can participate in the program include specialist companies, universities, head offices, ministries and government agencies. The Green Office system is scaled for small and large workplaces, so organizations of varying sizes can use it. It has seven themes:

  1. Management
  2. Communications and engagement
  3. Energy and water
  4. Procurement
  5. Recycling, sorting and cleaning
  6. Travel
  7. Food

Meanwhile, the Green Office Movement has been set up to promote green offices. The organization was created in Maastricht city in the Netherlands in 2010, and it is now an international movement with more than 40 offices worldwide. The Green Office movement aims for higher education institutions to become catalysts for sustainability.

What Are the Benefits of Green Offices?

The inclusion of numerous plants in office spaces boosts the overall well-being of employees.
The inclusion of numerous plants in office spaces boosts the overall well-being of employees. (Foto: CC0 Public Domain // Unsplash - Uneebo Office Design)

Green-certified workplaces integrate environmental features like good natural lighting and plants, leading to healthier work environments and happier employees. Green offices demonstrate the many benefits of eco-friendly workspaces, including:

  • Improved quality of life. A 2014 study by the University of Twente found many advantages to green offices. For example, the use of plants in office landscaping, which has no official work-related purpose, greatly enriches office workers’ quality of life.
  • Boosted cognitive thinking. Green office environments are linked to higher cognitive function scores in employees
  • Motivated workers. There is a 15 percent increase in productivity when plants are added to the office spaces.
  • Sustainability. The building sector alone accounts for 40 percent of global energy use and 38 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Green offices work to reduce these figures.

How To Create a Green Office

Companies of different sizes can join the WWF Green Office program.
Companies of different sizes can join the WWF Green Office program. (Foto: CC0 Public Domain // Unsplash - Alesia Kazantceva)

Organizations of many sizes can join the WWF Green Office program. The first step is a self-assessment of your workplace to pinpoint the areas where it could reduce environmental harm. Then you prepare your new eco-friendly system, setting sustainability objectives and monitoring your company’s progress. Once the environmental management system is in place, your organization will be awarded the WWF Green Office certificate. This certificate shows that you are taking effective action to become more environmentally sustainable.

Some steps your company or organization can take to be more sustainable are:

  • Using renewable energy
  • Going paperless
  • Maximizing natural light to reduce energy use
  • Encouraging green commuting solutions, like cycling to work
  • Turning off lighting and heating after work hours to conserve energy
  • Adding greenery and plants to the workspace

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