Increasing Sustainability in Your Office

Chantel Sciore, Professional Services | October-24-11


As professionals working in an environmentally-related capacity, many of our employers have an end goal of increasing sustainability, but how well does your organization’s internal sustainability initiatives measure up?

Start making a difference in your organization by contributing to an office “Green Team”, or by adjusting some of your everyday work habits to decrease your environmental footprint at work.

Not sure where to begin? Here’s some of the top ways to green your workplace:


1. Turn off computers and printers at the end of the day

2. Create a recycling and composting program for your office

3. Purchase energy efficient equipment (I.e. LCD screens and Energy Star appliances)

4. Send out digital handouts for meetings

5. Encourage the use of mass email rather than printing individual letters when possible

6. Use double-sided printing for internal documents

7. Reuse unwanted binders and filing systems

8. Research suppliers who will take back packaging for reuse

9. Eliminate paper towels in the bathroom and kitchen, or opt to buy paper towels made of partially recycled materials

10. Buy recycled toner cartridges for the printer, and the lower contrast settings

11. Plan or participate in a carpool/ bike/ walk to work competition, and request bike rack installations if there is none

12. Install a water cooler, and encourage the use of reusable mugs

13. Buy recycled paper

14. Reuse envelops to send internal mail

15. Encourage your office to buy silverware, plates, cups etc to reduce paper waste

16. Bring in a minimal or waste free lunch by using reusable containers rather than foil and plastic bags or wrap

17. Develop a scrap paper tray for others to use as rough notes or drafts

18. Turn off lights at the end of the day, or in rooms not in use during office hours


Curious about what other organizations are doing?


  • Rescan Environmental Services now serves organic teas and Fair Trade-certified coffee, and uses Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper in printers and copiers as well as ensuring that new office furniture purchases are made with FSC-certified wood products


  • IKEA Canada regularly conducts environmental audits to ensure its stores continue to maintain and improve their internal efforts to recycle, reduce waste and save energy -- and has in-store environmental committees that meet regularly and work to ensure that their store is living-up to its audit standards and goals


  • Enbridge Inc. recently formed an employee-led Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Employee Advisory Council that consists of 30 employees from across the company who advise on a range of economic, social and environmental issues


  • Stantec actively promotes alternative transportation at various locations across the company, including transit subsidies, secure bicycle lock-up and showers (with a self-serve bike repair centre in Edmonton), carpooling programs, partnering with shared vehicle services for those employees who leave their car at home, and even sponsors its own "Cool Commute Challenge" that runs over four weeks in June with over 100 offices and 1,500 employees electing to bike, walk, take transit, carpool and even telecommute their way to work


  • Sylvis Environmental Services Inc. provides traveling employees access to a fleet of hybrid vehicles and the company will even provide a $1,000 contribution towards the purchase of a fuel efficient vehicle


  • Hydro Ottawa manages a unique Christmas seasonal light exchange program for its employees -- providing one string of energy efficient LED light strings for every two old incandescent string returned


  • TD Bank Financial Group has employee-led "Green Teams" and individual "Green Ambassadors" and "Green Coordinators" work to help manage corporate initiatives as well as design and implement tailored programs at locations across the country -- and recently set-up a special email address to capture environmental feedback from employees


  • KPMG LL Pencourages employees to think about their daily actions and provide practical solutions through the "Think First Campaign", which provides employees with practical tips to lessen their personal and the firm's environmental impacts