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Green practice: The new normal

Every Issue

Cite as: Jan/Feb 2015 89 (1/2) LIJ, p.83

There are a few key ways to make your everyday systems green and enable your office to be environmentally friendly with minimal effort.

Often it seems like a massive effort to be more environmentally friendly, constantly considering power, paper and water use and feeling constrained in what we do.

But many of the most impactful changes are also the easiest; it’s all about putting in place systems that encourage us to be green every day without even thinking.

Lighting and electricity

One of the easiest and most financially beneficial upgrades is to encourage your firm to switch to LED lighting. In a recent move, the Sydney Opera House upgraded all of its concert hall lights to LEDs. These lights have a life span of about 50,000 hours each and use much less power. The move to LED lighting is expected to reduce the electricity bill at the Opera House by 75 per cent (about $70,000 per annum) and will mean 2000 fewer light bulbs each year.

Creating easy switching off processes can also save firms a great deal of energy and money. Too many offices have lighting control boxes tucked away – moving switches close to exit doors and encouraging the last person to leave to simply switch them off is one of the easiest ways to reduce energy consumption. ED lights also have the advantage that they can be switched on and off around 6600 times before they will lose their energy – meaning even if you switch them on and off five times a day you’re still looking at a 3.5 year life span.

Toilet paper

An easy way to have a more ethical and environmentally friendly office is to use ethical brands of toilet paper such as Who Gives a Crap (http://au.whogivesacrap.org/) which is 100 per cent recycled and gives 50 per cent of its profits to WaterAid to build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. Better yet, it has free same day delivery. This is exactly the kind of systematic and easy change that a firm can make with minimal extra effort.

Waste

So often we are encouraged to recycle but it’s such a hassle to sort out our different types of waste. This is why it’s great that an increasing number of firms have introduced three types of bins: landfill, recycling and organic waste. When three types of bins are simply part of the kitchen, people are often happy to pick the right one without even thinking.

Another way to support responsible use of waste is to put cartridge and battery disposal bins next to your printers so that toxic products can be easily recycled.

Air conditioning

One of the easiest ways to reduce your energy consumption is to modify the temperature on your air conditioning to reflect the season. For maximum comfort the thermostat should be set between 23-25°C in summer and 18-21°C in winter.

In summer, increasing the temperature of your air-conditioning system by 1°C may reduce energy consumption and your bill by around 10 per cent.1

Many people want to support the environment and it can be done easily if you make it part of your firm’s everyday systems.


CLAIRE TONER is a solicitor at King & Wood Mallesons.

  1. Origin Energy, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, www.originenergy.com.au/4397/Heating-ventilation- and-air-conditioning.

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