Green Office is a blog series written by TAS’s Community and Partnership Coordinator that tells the story of how we are reducing our impact by focusing on waste reduction, energy and water use, personal health, and transportation.
In our second month of office greening activities, the TAS “green team” focused on ways to reduce the amount of energy we use at work. When the team first sat down to discuss how to improve, we began with an acknowledgement that there was a lot we were already doing to conserve energy when possible.
As a result of our lovely large office windows, we rarely turn on the overhead lights, and all office lights are off in the night. We also have compact fluorescent lighting in all rooms except for one. Given that lighting is responsible for 44% of an office building’s energy use1, we realized these practices were not insignificant. Plus, our entire office building had recently become bullfrogpowered, which means that the energy we do use is derived from clean sources like wind and low-impact hydro.
Nonetheless, there’s always room for improvement!
As we continued our brainstorming session, we began to recognize that the extent to which we use (or don’t use) energy is largely based on personal decisions we make as we go about our day. For instance, it’s up to no one but me to: take the stairs instead of the elevator, wear warm clothing to resist the temptation to turn on my heater, unplug anything I am not using (e.g. cell phone charger), turn off my second monitor when not in use, and turn off my power bar at the end of the day. As a result of this recognition, the majority of our efforts to reduce office energy use were achieved through our “personal pledges” – voluntary commitments that we make to ourselves.
Of course, we’ve all heard (or said): “I am only one person! What difference can I make”? While it’s certainly true that a single person reducing their energy use won’t curb climate change, at the heart of this statement is something very profound. Yes, you can only do what you can do, but that is not a reason to do nothing. The consequence of everyone feeling they are too “small” to make a difference is that everyone maintains an apathetic attitude. The alternative – focusing on what you can do – makes the problem manageable and meaningful. Plus, there are a lot of “you” out there.
Up next on the green team agenda is water conservation at the office.