“Meanwhile, all of the disposable cups, utensils, food packaging and food leftovers generate millions of pounds of kitchen-related waste that goes out the door every year.”
Which means, the Greenbiz.com article continues, “the typical cafeteria represents a huge opportunity for companies to target in their next big green initiative.”
Microsoft, for example, once “used and threw away” more than 24 million polystyrene cups a year.
But no more. Now the software giant uses paper products – cups, plates, and so on – made from plant starch, which means the items are very biodegradable.
“The company now uses only plant starch-based compostable paper cups, and has since replaced all plates, bowls and even utensils with compostable products. That prevents 20.3 million pieces of cutlery, 18.5 million bowls and plates, and 22.1 million cups from going into landfills each year, or the equivalent of 109 tons of plastic.”
(We’ve seen and used these cups and plates and we can attest to the fact that they are, indeedy yes, very biodegradable. Leave a cup overnight on your desk and you’ll come back in the morning to see the lip and a portion of the side starting to turn brown, as in, it’s started to degrade already, fer cryin’ out loud )
But we digressed.
Seriously, we cheer anything that can keep tons of plastic from landing in a landfill and staying there for years upon years. All hail cornstarch
Staying with a plastics theme, of sorts, it appears, Swiss company Recycline has given those ubiquitous plastic water bottles a new life as....new things.
Recycline has taken products made of polyethylene terephthalate (also known as PET) and
made them into different useful objects. Candle holders. A slender magazine rack. A bottle bank. Vases. Sand-filled dumbbells. Napkin rings. And even into... water bottles.
And, lastly, and ending with a Christmas theme, why not build yourself a gingerbread house this holiday season? But we’re not talking just any ol’ gingerbread house. Why not get together with the kiddoes and make yourself what Treehugger.com is calling a “McMansion” gingerbread house
We like to talk about sustainable building here at GreenOfficeProjects.com. But this gingerbread building would “sustain” itself around our house for, oh, maybe a day or two once Mom gave us permission to dig on in.
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A proponent of reducing energy consumption in buildings, Peter Chee is using thermal imaging to help reduce his carbon footprint. The CEO of Thinkspace in Redmond, Wash., has a neat blog post about this technique and a photo of his building indicating where heat is leaking out – mostly around windows and doors.
We all love a window-filled office space – not to mention how the natural light can reduce the use of electricity – but it’s easy for warm or cool air to slip out around those windows.
You might want to consider taking a thermal image of your building, particularly if it’s older. Or think about having an energy audit. Some organizations offer these for free. For example, non-residential customers interested in California Solar Initiative incentives will receive a free energy audit from the California Center for Sustainable Energy to determine if they qualify for the program.
If you’re considering purchasing or leasing new office space, make a stop at Optimal Home Location. Geared toward individuals, we think businesses could make good use of this green tool too. You enter addresses of places you visit frequently – work, school, daycare, the gym – and the Web site offers up an “optimal home location.” This is best place for you to live based on commuting and green living.
This is a great tool to share with your green employees who might be considering a move. Figure out the best and shortest commute, which saves gas and your sanity because you’re not spending hours in traffic. Find neighborhood amenities and determine how you could walk to restaurants, entertainment venues and the local Starbucks. This is great for businesses whose employees would like to walk to lunch spots, the dry cleaners or just get some fresh air and take a stroll.
Here’s an interesting commuting tidbit from the Web site: “10 extra miles per day means around 100 additional hours and $700 more in gas price per year.” Wow. That extra $700 would come in handy for other green initiatives, such as weatherizing leaky windows and doors.
Today’s Green Thumbs Up goes to MassMutual, which has started the application process to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings certification for its headquarters in Springfield, Mass. The company will replace more than 500 plumbing fixtures and create more efficient lighting, making its 1.4 million square-foot facility super green. In addition to green water chillers and a more energy-efficient data center, MassMutual plans to purchase eco-friendly office furniture. Seeing how that’s our business, we give a Green Thumbs Up to MassMutual!
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Aside from the obvious focus on sustainability and the environment, what exactly are green-collar jobs? A good ‘ol dictionary.com definition offers that green-collar jobs are “pertaining to a working class in the environmental or agricultural sectors.” Is this just a fancy term for “tree-huggers” or a way for politicians to appear as if they are adding more jobs to the economy?
Photo courtesy GreenForAll.org
The American Solar Energy Society released a report last month called “Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency: Economic Drivers for the 21st Century” that indicates one in four U.S. workers will have a job in the renewable energy or energy efficiency industries by 2030.
These industries already generate 8.5 million jobs, a figure that could grow to 40 million jobs by 2030 – with the appropriate public policy, the report states.
This report defines the energy-efficiency sector as including everything from energy-efficient windows and appliances to insulation and recycling. Also, “solar, wind, ethanol, and fuel cells are likely to be some of the hottest areas of growth.” Read more or download the full report online .
Here’s an interesting article from BusinessWeek about people in the middle of their careers who decide to make a switch to greener pastures. According to this piece, many people take something they already know, color it green and turn it into a profession.
Plenty of business groups and nonprofit organizations are getting behind the green-collar movement.
The Apollo Alliance is a San Francisco-based coalition of business, labor, environmental and community leaders with a mission, in part, to expand green job opportunities. The organization just last week proposed an economic recovery strategy to “immediately create or retain 650,000 direct green-collar jobs and an additional 1.3 million indirect jobs in communities across the country.”
According to the Alliance’s Web site, the proposed “Apollo Economic Recovery Act” is a response to President-elect Barack Obama’s call for a “big stimulus package” in January to “jolt” the economy and “lay the groundwork for long- term, sustained economic growth.” You can read more or download the full proposal online .
A coalition of environmental and conservation organizations crafted a report called “Transition to Green” with recommendations for the new administration. Download the full report here.
The Green For All movement sees green-collar jobs as a way to lift people out of poverty. Based in Oakland, Calif., the organization is advocating for a government commitment to job creation, training and entrepreneurial opportunities in the green job sector.
With millions of people working in the green sector – or thinking about working in the green sector – surely that means more offices will be going green. You can hardly call yourself a green-collar worker and not recycle office paper or drink your coffee in Styrofoam cups. And working in a LEED-certified building sure wouldn’t hurt.
So the creation of more green-collar jobs is great news for the green office movement. With more individuals thinking about how they can have a green career, they’ll be spreading green through all aspects of their lives, including their cubicle.
Share your ideas on what it means to be a green-collar worker. Do you have a green job? How did you land in that position?
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seller of sustainable office furniture and cubicles , we’re naturally interested in clever furniture design. And Treehugger.com helped us come across one of the most interesting furniture pieces we’ve seen in a long while:
Modular furniture with each of its pieces attached by Velcro !
“Inspired from the famous Lego designs, the ‘Stack’ is a modular furniture system that allows users to design or organize their own furniture according to their needs and space available in their homes. Reduced to just a single element, unified with industrial velcros, the Stack comes with no borders and that’s what makes it uncomplicated while erecting different designs.”
Functional and fun – perfect for the grown-up Lego builder in all of us.
Again, as a seller of sustainable office furniture and cubicles, we’re always happy when we hear how much businessmen and women are embracing how green (as in making more money) going green (as in creating more environmentally friendly office buildings and office spaces) can help a business become.
Which is why where tickled “green” that the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania has announced it will offer a dual master’s in business and master’s in environmental studies degree in three years.
“In creating the program, the University of Pennsylvania joins about 30 other colleges and universities around the world that now offer advanced degrees in courses of study that focus on sustainability and other green issues...”
Meanwhile, over in Arkansas, Wal-Mart has announced it “has launched a green jobs council in partnership with many of its leading suppliers of goods and services in an effort to help rebuild and retool America’s workforce.”
The group of 30 includes such heavy hitters as General Electric and Lennox, among others.
"To overcome both rising unemployment and dwindling natural resources, we must invest in our nation's workforce through the development of jobs that preserve the environment for generations to come," Christopher Spain, chairman and chief strategy officer for HydroPoint Data Systems in Petaluma, Calif. said in a statement. "I believe the goals of the Green Jobs Council are highly achievable."
Creating green jobs is grand, we believe, for several reasons. One of which is that with green jobs come green buildings and inside those buildings will go green offices – which will need sustainable furniture....
Finally, as the holiday season continues apace (can it be just 20 days until Christmas?!) we bring you this gift idea, straight from Mt. Everest – the Everest Ornament . Made by metal turner and sculptor Jeff Clapp from the discarded oxygen tanks that literally littered the paths up to the highest peak on the planet that have been left there by the many climbers who have scaled the mountain over the last half century, the ornament is
literally a spin-off from creating the bells and bowls. Using the last remaining tinsel-like strands of metal which stream of the lathe, these ornaments are an emblem of never letting anything useful go to waste.
And they’re just $15 each! Talk about your top -of-the-line holiday gift!
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photo by Elastic Design
Word is spreading that many companies drowning in this recession (which seems like all companies) are canceling the obligatory office holiday party. We have the perfect spin: say you decided to go green this holiday season, so you’re skipping the holiday party and saving loads of resources.
Truly, not having a party at all is the best way to color your office a lovely shade of pine green. But if you really want to gather everyone together for a toast of good cheer, think about ways to green your holiday party. If you really are trying to be an example of a green office, you’ll want to extend that sentiment to office parties.
A few tips:
• Send e-mail invitations to save paper.
• Skip the gift exchange, which saves everything from gas to go shopping to wrapping paper.
• If you must give gifts, reuse gift bags, ribbons and tissue paper. Even if tissue paper is crumpled, it’s still great for stuffing bags and boxes. It’s just going to get crumpled again anyway. Put your gift in a reusable shopping bag, a flower pot, serving dish or some other item that doubles as “wrapping” and a gift.
• Encourage carpooling and use of public transportation.
• Don’t use throw-away cups, plates, utensils.
• By local food if possible.
• Ask everyone to bring a donation for a local environmental group and then provide a company match.
• Skip the cocktail party and volunteer with a local environmental nonprofit or other green cause. Plant trees around the office or pick up trash along the road.
Check out this article from BusinessGreen.com for some more good tips. And here’s a green gift guide from TreeHugger.com to help with your green-themed shopping.
Tuesday’s post “Would you pay extra green for green?” highlighted a survey indicating commercial real estate executives believe green office space is important. Check out this article from GlobeSt.com, a commercial real estate news Web site. It gives a good explanation of a new California law that soon will allow potential tenants to access energy consumption data on all nonresidential buildings. A good idea? Weigh in here.
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