Climate Change

What You Can Do: At the Office

Office Copy Machine with Energy Star logoBusiness and home offices use a significant amount of electricity for heating and cooling, lighting, and operating equipment. Here are a number of easy ways to protect the environment, fight climate change, and help make the air cleaner.

1. Manage your office equipment energy use better

Did you know that the total electricity consumed by idle electronics equals the annual output of 12 power plants? Save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at work by setting your computer, monitor, and other office equipment to power down when not in use. Activate the power management features on your computer and monitor, unplug laptop power cords when not in use, and turn off equipment and lights at the end of the day. Plugging everything into a power strip makes it easy to shut everything down at one time.

2. Look for ENERGY STAR-qualified products for the office

Office products that have earned the ENERGY STAR feature special energy-efficient designs, which enable them to use less energy while performing regular tasks. Look for ENERGY STARqualified office equipment, such as computers, copiers, and printers, in addition to more than 60 product categories, including lighting, heating and cooling equipment, and commercial appliances.

3. Ask your office building manager if your building has earned the ENERGY STAR

Buildings can earn EPA's ENERGY STAR too! ENERGY STAR-labeled buildings provide safe, healthy, and productive environments that use about 35% less energy than average buildings. Their efficient use of energy also reduces the total operational cost of the building. Let your facility's maintenance department know about the ENERGY STAR buildings program, so they can learn how to improve your building's performance.

4. Use less energy for your commute

Switching to public transportation, carpooling, biking, or telecommuting can save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on your way to and from work. Encourage your employer to offer commuter benefits that address limited or expensive parking, reduce traffic congestion, improve employee recruiting and retention, and minimize the environmental impacts associated with drive-alone commuting. If you do drive, find out the fuel efficiency of your vehicle at the Federal Fuel Economy website, and make more environmentally informed choices when purchasing your next vehicle by using EPA's Green Vehicle Guide.

5. Reduce, reuse, recycle

Reducing, reusing, and recycling at the office helps conserve energy and reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Reduce, reuse, and recycle at the office by using two-sided printing and copying; only printing what you need; buying supplies made with recycled content; and recycling paper products, batteries, and used printer cartridges. All of these actions help conserve energy and reduce carbon pollution. For old electronics (e.g., computers, monitors, cell phones, TVs), investigate leasing programs, manufacturer and retailer take-back programs, and municipal programs and events to ensure reuse and recycling. You can also donate used equipment to schools or other organizations and take advantage of any available tax incentives for computer donations. Visit EPA's WasteWise website for information on starting a recycling program at work.

6. Use green power

Emissions from electricity generated from fossil fuels can be one of the most significant environmental impacts associated with your organization's operations. Green power is electricity that is generated from renewable energy sources such as wind, sun, geothermal, and biomass. Purchasing green power is an easy, effective way for your organization to reduce its carbon footprint and environmental impact. Visit EPA's Green Power Partnership for information on how to purchase green power.

7. Encourage your organization to develop a greenhouse gas inventory

Developing a greenhouse gas inventory is a critical first step toward measuring and managing your organization’s climate change impact. An inventory is a list of emission sources and the associated emissions quantified using standardized methods. Many organizations are taking this step and by doing so find that most of their emissions come from building heating and cooling, fleet vehicles, electricity use, and employee travel. EPA’s Center for Corporate Climate Leadership is a resource center to help all organizations identify and achieve cost-effective greenhouse gas emission reductions.