Your office, whether it be in a large multinational corporation employing thousands of people or a small home office for yourself, is a great place to improve your impact on the environment. With several to dozens of people sharing the same space and resources, considering eco-friendly and energy efficient choices has an exponential effect. Furthermore, it is us as businesses and business owners that need to set the trends for a better world. With many green options already known, let me fill you in on 5 of the latest technological advances for a greener office.
Light bulbs – CFL to LED
We’re all aware of CFL bulbs, which use compact fluorescent technology to produce similar light to that of traditional incandescent bulbs, but at a fraction of the energy usage. Now we have LED bulbs as another eco-option. LED bulbs use light emitting diodes in a solid state, which are even more efficient than CFLs. At their peak of efficiency, an LED can convert 95% of the energy it takes in to light and theoretically, they should last for longer than you will! With traditional incandescents, and even CFL’s, a lot of that energy is lost to heat. To produce the same light as a regular 60w bulb a CFL uses approximately 14w and a LED draws just 10 watts from the wall.
Because it is a somewhat new technology to the mass consumer market, when they first arrived, LED light bulbs could cost around $30-40 each, with CFLs costing $4-5 and incandescents a measly $1.25 per bulb. At first, the price differences might scare you off but if you take a second to look at this, you’ll end up saving money in the long run. The LED light bulb’s excellence is in its lifespan, lasting approximately 50,000 hours. CFLs last about 10,000 and incandescent bulbs will make it maybe 1,200 hours. Lasting nearly fifty times as long as an incandescent light bulb, buying LED lights is practically a no-brainer. Furthermore, with recent advancements in manufacturing technology, the price of the newer LED bulbs has dropped dramatically. Lemnis Lighting’s new line of Parox LED bulbs start at just $4.95. It’s time to switch.
Lighting Controls – Motion to Intelligent Sensors
With energy costs and conservation an important issue with all businesses, lighting controls have come a long way. Simple timers to heat and motion sensors have been around for quite some time. This year Enlighted Inc, a California-based company, has revealed a new “intelligent” sensor-based lighting control system that provides energy savings between 50 and 70%, beating all competing systems. And not only that, it ensures the optimal level of lighting for the users. The system uses sensors in each room that are wired into the the main lighting of those rooms. The sensors detect the room’s ambient light, temperature and occupancy to minimize energy use and maximize occupant comfort. The whole system is then monitored wirelessly, letting the office managers track the performance and validate the energy savings claims. The cost of the system is said to be recouped through savings after two years. Thirty-five of the Fortune 1000 companies are already Enlighted customers, including Google, LinkedIn, Turner Broadcasting System Inc, JDSU, Smart Modular Technologies and many more.
Pens – Recycled to Biodegradable
While pens made of mostly recycled plastic have been around for a while from big brands like Bic and Pilot, Buffalo Natur has taken it a step further with recycled, natural, and biodegradable pens. Shown here are their bamboo ballpoint pens. Because of the bamboo, they are comprised of 95% post-industrial recycled material making them arguably the most sustainable pen ever created. Even the packaging is printed with soy-based ink on 100% post-industrial recycled paper. The pen and package are 95% biodegradable and a pair of them sells for around $2.25. They look super cool, too.
Print and Copy Paper – Recycled to Chemical Free
Like with pens, printing paper made with recycled materials is nothing new. A stigma that is almost always associated with recycled paper is that the quality and brightness of the recycled paper simply do not match that of new paper. With today’s technology, this is no longer a viable excuse. Frankly, “my paper isn’t white enough” isn’t really a good excuse in the first place.
A great example of modern environmentally friendly paper is Cascades’ Rolland Enviro100 paper, which prints as well as virgin paper but is made of 100% FSC-certified post-consumer fiber. It’s also CFPA-certified 100% processed chlorine free, cutting out an unnecessary chemical normally found in paper. On top of that, it’s manufactured using eco-friendly BioGas energy, which is powered by the fermentation of organic matter. No word yet on whether they make wine with that fermented organic matter or whether or not it’s safe to drink. My money’s on no.
Coffee Machines – Energy Efficient to Recycled
With coffee a priority, nay, a requirement in pretty much all offices, one coffee machine deserves a mention here – the Philips Senseo Viva Cafe Eco. While all electronic appliance makers are striving towards energy efficiency, Philips’ EcoVision5 sustainability strategy has produced an efficient coffee maker made of 50% recycled plastics from old appliances. All outer parts are actually made of 100% recycled plastic, with new plastic used only for the parts that come in contact with the water and coffee. The matte soft stainless steel elements used are made of 45% recycled metals. Even the packaging is made of 90% recycled cardboard. Note this coffee maker uses Senseo coffee pods, which maximize the quality and efficiency of each pot brewed. And they’ve covered for the coffee pods as well, which can be discarded as compostable waste. All this has earned the coffee maker a 2012 iF Design Materials Award.
Hope these new advances in green tech have inspired you to make some changes around your office! We’ll be sure to share any others we hear about. If you have any new green tech you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments below.