Monday, March 30, 2009

Green Office Tips

Green Office tip, 14th of January 2009: Turn off lights when they are no longer needed

To help combat climate change, WWF urges all offices to keep all parts of their premises dark when nobody is there. Lighting accounts for about a third of all the electricity used in offices, so eliminating unnecessary lighting can lead to considerable savings in energy and costs.

Fluorescent lights fitted with electronic starters can always be switched off when they are not needed. Turning them on and off does not reduce their useful lifespan. The lifespan of older model fluorescent lights fitted with choking coil starters is shortened by turning them on and off repeatedly, but this does not result in peaks in electricity use as is widely believed. As a rule of thumb, it is better to leave such lamps turned on if they would only be off for less than about ten minutes. Otherwise it is always worth turning them off.

This figure of 10 minutes is an average based on calculations of overall impacts accounting for both electricity use and reductions in the lifespan of lamps. The amounts of energy used to manufacture a lamp are only about 1% of the energy it will use during its active life. Turning off lights when they are not needed can reduce lighting-related greenhouse gas emissions by around 25 %.

To ensure you give the right instructions for turning off lighting, make sure you are aware of the technical details of the equipment in your office. Lighting is very likely to be fitted with electronic connectors if it was installed since the mid 1990s, if the fluorescent tubes are narrow models (about 16 mm in diameter), or if the lights come on all together after a brief pause without blinking. The best way to check technical details is to ask the person responsible for changing lamps.

Sources: Osram Ltd; Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT)

Green Office tip 10th December 2008: Use recycled products and green services as gifts

Many firms like to remember their customers and suppliers as Christmas approaches. Staff members also often receive gifts at office Christmas parties. WWF recommends that green services and recycled gifts can make better presents than conventional gratuitous gift products. This can be a good way to find a home for things that are still in good condition, but no longer needed. Home made Christmas decorations and locally produced organic foodstuffs can also add to the Christmas spirit without burdening the environment unnecessarily.

It’s worth spending a little time considering how gifts are wrapped. Many ordinary wrapping papers cannot be recycled with other paper as it contains too many colouring dyes. Gifts could instead be wrapped in reusable forms of packaging such as cloth bags or gift containers that can be used again by their receivers.

Friends may be glad to receive tickets to the theatre, for instance, especially if this involves spending time together. Such gifts involving your time and company may be especially appreciated by older people. The parents of small children may be glad of babysitting help.

Another nice gift could be the personal sponsorship on someone’s behalf of a charity whose values the recipient sympathises with. WWF Finland’s mermaid adoption scheme is appreciated by many people concerned about the ecological state of the Baltic Sea. For details see
Tips how to avoid climate change when preparing for Christmas and celebrating it can be found at

Green Office tip 26th November 2008: A preheated engine saves the environment and money

You can reduce the environmental impact of your travels, even if you usually drive your own car. Environmentally friendly driving habits and a properly preheated engine will save many tanks of gasoline along the year.
New cars use much less gasoline than old ones, but it is the driver who in the end determines the car’s gas consumption and its environmental impact. Every kilometer driven with gasoline adds approximattely 170 g of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. With diesel the figure is 145 g.

It is a good habit to preheat you car in winter time. The impact of a cold start of the engine is the same as that of 500–600 km of driving, causing much more emissions than starting a warm motor. Already three cold starts a day leads to an increase in gasoline consumption of several litres a week. This can bring as much as extra costs 120 euros per driver during one winter. According to a research done by Motiva, each year up to 10 % of all consumption of gasoline consists of cold starts.

The right time to start preheating the engine is when the outside temperature reaches +5 °C. Already half an hour of block heating or one hour of radiation heating will cut gas consumption during the first kilometres by half, comparing to a cold engine. When the temperature drops below –5 °C heating time is doubled, and when it is below –10 °C heating time is from two to three hours, depending on the heating technique.
Sources: Motiva Oy and VTT
Order A guide to preheating by Motiva (in Finnish)

Green Office tip October 29th 2008: Make your office energy-efficient

WWF urges Green Offices to influence the management of environmental issues in the premises they rent, by making property-owners aware of their needs and wishes. Considerable financial and environmental savings can be achieved during the renovation and decoration of buildings by opting for durable materials and technical solutions that effectively reduce the use of electricity, heat and water.

Companies can radically improve their environmental impacts and costs by locating their office premises in energy-efficient buildings. By the beginning of 2009 all owners of properties taken into use, sold or newly leased must have energy certificates setting out properties’ energy use category on a scale of A-G, with A-class buildings using the least energy.

Energy-efficiency can also be enhanced through small everyday actions. In winter it is worth moving curtains away from in front of radiators, to improve the flow of warm air. At the end of the working day, close all curtains and blinds to help keep heat inside the building. On sunny summer days curtains can be closed to ensure that offices do not become overheated, and to limit the need for air-conditioning systems to run on full.

Rooms should be aired through a rapid intense airing, rather than by leaving a window open continually, which can disrupt the functioning of air-conditioning systems and lead to high heat losses.

Lighting and air-conditioning should be optimised for efficiency and comfort by carefully planning for the needs of each work station and employee. Air-conditioning systems should be checked often, and ventilation filters changed regularly. It is also worth keeping windows and lamps clean. Cleaner windows enable more natural light to enter buildings. Dirty fluorescent tubes may produce 20% less light than clean ones.

Sources: Finnish Environmental Administration (; WWF Green Office; Seppo Junnila, Helsinki University of Technology; TAC Atmostech; Motiva.

Green Office tip, 28th of January 2009: Do not use disposable kitchenware

Using disposable drinking cups and other kitchenware made of cardboard and plastic puts an unnecessary burden on the environment. Replacing them with reusable kitchenware can help to combat climate change, ease water pollution, and also save forests.

WWF urges allGreen Office workplaces to change over from disposable cups to washable porcelain cups. Many have already done so, andEricsson Finland’s head office, for instance, used to consume 30,000 plastic cups a month, but a switch to reusable cups has now reduced waste by 1,000 litres a month since they joined the Green Office network.

When employers buy staff members their own mugs, this investment is usually paid back in savings within a year. Savings are made on waste management and cleaning as well as the purchasing costs of disposable cups – and who could disagree that coffee and tea taste much better served in porcelain cups!