10 ways to make your office green

Want to make your office green? Here are some easy tips to make your office green and more sustainable. These tips go further than a paperless office, working from home and stimulate natural light. There are always ways for employees and companies to embrace sustainable policies at the office.

With Earth Day in mind, here are 10 ways to make your office green.

Initiate a Green Team

A Green Team can raise awareness under workers. It’s a way to accomplish more. The Green Team can start a successful recycling program, stimulate energy-efficient changes, purchase sustainable cleaning products and monitor sustainability goals of the company.

Tip: Make sure the Green Team is a representation of the company. Don’t allow the Green Team to only have member that fully support sustainability, but rather choose members that can have a positive influence on the company and other workers to actually adapt sustainable adaptations.

The Green Team focuses on education, engagement, monitoring and inspection. So be aware to not only have great proposals, but also keeping the results as planned.

sustainable office

Create green challenges

Monthly green challenges have different goals and could have different positive results.

  • It stimulates workers, teams and departments to engage in a green office.
  • It shows the company and workers what can actually be achieved.
  • It engages workers in the company’s sustainability goals.

A challenge means organisation and rewards. Choose small but environmental friendly prices, like Fair-trade coffee, plants or a tree.

Turn off lights and appliances at night and during weekends

Walk through a random city at night and notice the amount of energy being wasted on lightning and appliances that are turned on for absolutely no-one.

Initiate a very strict ‘everything off’ rule at night. Switch off computers, unplug appliances and turn off the lights.

This additionally saves the company money on energy costs, which can be an important point to convince managers of this sustainability improvement.

sustainable work place

Purchase sustainable office products

Sustainable procurement should be standard in every office nowadays. Sustainable products at the office are the new big thing, and quite a logical step forward.

Choose green products, energy-saving appliances (A+++), bamboo products, refurbished appliances, organic food and drinks, fair trade product, etc.  

Go for green energy

This is an easy and obvious measurement to make your office green. Change the energy supplier towards a green energy supplier. Don’t go for just a random energy supplier, but take your time to choose the best and most environmental friendly energy supplier. Make the switch!

Green energy is primary from renewable sources, which are wind and solar energy resources. More and more, energy suppliers have competitive pricing.

green office

Make a temperature plan

Many offices are very badly regulated in terms of temperature, which actually results in an uncomfortable place to work. Think about over air conditioned in the summer, employees are wearing sweaters to work while it’s 30 degrees Celsius outside and in winter it’s cold inside and badly insulated.

Experiences in other companies show that changing the temperature just a few degrees can actually save a bunch of energy and energy costs on a yearly basis.

Have a paperless office

This is another obvious solution. Always choose for digital documentation instead of paper. The thing is that printing and storing paper documentation consumes a lot of resources and energy, while nobody really appreciates it anymore. It’s old school.

A paperless office assumes limiting the use of printing and paper at the office, but also stimulating your suppliers and clients to go paperless.

A paperless office is a tangible measurement towards reducing the carbon footprint of the office.

Make the office green (literally)

Introduce plants and flowers at the office. They greatly improve the work space and work atmosphere, giving the office a more homely and comfortable look and feel. Additionally, they also keep a clean and healthy air by producing oxygen and purifying the air in a natural way.

green office

Increase natural light

Sunlight makes you happy and more productive, research shows. It gives you a feeling of being awake. Natural sunlight has way better characteristics than indoor lightning.

Improving natural sunlight at the office, means moving desks closer to the windows and allowing sunlight to enter the office through big windows without anything blocking the sunlight to come in.

In winter, natural sunlight will warm up the office.

I also advice you to replace light bulbs with LED lights and incorporating sensors and timers in the lightning system to be able to organize lightning at the office following a natural schedule.

Encourage green transportation

This is quite an easy measurement as well to make your office green. Green transportation is for example:

  • Giving employees (a discount on) electric bikes to stimulate them to bike to work.
  • Stimulating the use of public transport, for example with financial compensation.
  • Stimulate carpooling by organising schedules.
  • Stimulate sustainable business traveling.

Good luck and share your experiences with others!

Sustainable business travel and IT

Most companies nowadays are more oriented towards sustainability. These companies have already discovered that with some easy changes, great results in sustainability can be achieved. Next step is: sustainable business travel. As many companies still struggle with this step, you’ll read below my 3 tips for sustainable business travel.

As I will emphasize below: sustainable business travels have surprising benefits.

But first…

What is sustainable business travel?

Traveling in general tends to be quite polluting, so business travel is not an exception. However, business traveling can be more ‘excessive’, or not really necessary. Especially as new technological innovations are introduced constantly, alternatives become more reasonable.

So the most sustainable business travel is no travel at all. Of course, we do understand that a business travel in some cases is necessary. In those cases, implementing more sustainable business travel practices is the answer to become more responsible and sustainable as a company. Sustainable business travel is part of a sustainable IT.

It’s all about implementing a few basic strategies.

business class

More sustainable business travel: What can my company do?

I’ll give you three ways in which your company can make business travels more sustainable. Read them and get the ball rolling in your company. The beauty is not to propose to prevent of prohibit business traveling, but rather to propose to follow company standards.

Want to be sustainable? Buy a refurbished device.

More video calls instead of face-to-face contact

For some years already we live in the digital age. Face-to-face contact can in some cases still be important in building trust and a client relationship. However, most meetings and follow-up meetings can perfectly be done with video calls.

And seriously, the functions and innovations in video meeting software nowadays is really good and can perfectly replace face-to-face meetings.

Just think about the time and money the company saves when a business trips are replaced with a simple video meeting? And then multiply this by the number of people traveling to be present at these meetings.

Task: Make a list of all business business trips of your company in the previous year.

  • Looking back on these trips, how many of these trips could’ve been done by video call through Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams?
  • How much money, time and CO2 emissions could’ve been saved by replacing these meetings with video calls?
business traveler

When traveling is necessary, compensate the CO2 emissions

We totally understand that in some cases, business trips are necessary. So in those cases, make the business travels more sustainable by compensating emissions caused by this travel.

Your company can in fact compensate the impact of the business trip on the environment. For example, by:

  • Stay at green hotels
  • Book direct flights
  • Use Flygrn to book your flights and hotels to directly support the environment
  • Avoid high season
  • Use public transport instead of car of taxi
  • Try to combine different business meetings in one trip

Adapt a sustainable travel policy

You know what’s odd about sustainability within a company? Although we adapt a sustainable lifestyle at home, we tend to forget about these principles at work. Somehow, we seem to be stuck within certain work frameworks or we are just to busy to change these not-so-sustainable habits.

Also, sustainable traveling is perceived as being ‘difficult’ of ‘complex’. In many cases people need to be ‘educated’ about sustainable travel to realize it’s really not such a big deal.

In my experience it therefor helps to adapt a company standard concerning business travels. These practises can be communicated throughout the organisation to inform employees about sustainable travels and how these practises can easily be adopted and are really not a big thing.

These are some sustainable business travel practises you can adopt in your company:

  • Book a direct flight, or as direct as possible. Extra take-offs and landings a way more polluting.
  • Have a company airline that serves most destinations and has sustainability policies. Employees should prefer to book flights with this airline.
  • Book a hotel near your meeting(s), so you can walk towards the meeting(s).
  • Always prefer a green hotel with green credentials.
  • Choose to walk as much as possible, or hire a bike at the hotel.
  • When you need to hire a car, always hire an electric or hybrid car.
  • Travel light.
  • Use digital tickets, confirmations, forms and documentation instead of printing.
  • Always compensate the CO2 emissions of your flight.
  • In hotel: reuse towels, turn off lights, tv and air-conditioning when leaving the room.
  • Eat local food in local establishments to support the local economy.
  • The company supports possible extra costs for compensating CO2 emissions, booking a hotel near meeting location, booking a green hotel and booking an electric/hybrid car! So don’t worry about extra costs of traveling sustainably.
sustainable travel

Benefits of sustainable business travel

Many companies are implementing these sustainable business traveling policies. They recognise the importance of sustainable travel. It works for them. They reduce their company’s carbon footprint, but additionally they cut costs by working more efficiently.

What is sustainable procurement?

When purchasing or signing contracts with partners and suppliers, you look at different aspects, like quality, price and delivery time. Sustainable procurement adds social and environmental aspects to this list of important requirements, especially when dealing with foreign suppliers.


When adapting sustainable procurement, one avoids risks that could harm the product or the company’s reputation. But most importantly: one takes responsibility for social and environmental consequences of the production process.

By being committed to sustainable procurement, the company integrates social and environmental values into the company’s supply chain.

sustainable purchasing

Follow a Sustainable Procurement Checklist

The following sustainable procurement tips can guide you through the procurement process.

The easiest way to start sustainable procurement, is to follow a step-by-step sustainable procurement checklist provided by other, like the sustainable procurement checklist of Ecovadis.

It is worth noticing that sustainable procurement is different for every company. More than anyone, you know best what sustainable issues your company focuses on and where opportunities for improvement might be found.

What can you do? Start with a sustainable IT.

Tip: Be analytical. Think deeply and investigate thoroughly your supply chain and suppliers. Remember that unethical aspects in the supply chain might be hidden from you by suppliers.

Avoid risks when purchasing

Especially when buying products or resources abroad, it is important to know the origin. Production can take place in another country than the country where your supplier is based. As a result, production can be done under other circumstances.

Think about child labour, long working hours, underpayment of workers, bad working conditions and discrimination. Do you want this to happen in your production chain? If not, make very sure it doesn’t happen.


By prohibiting these activities in your supplier contract and monitoring whether the contract is followed by the supplier.


Although it is not your intention and you didn’t know about these activities happening in your production chain, you might be responsible and blamed for it, resulting in a damaged reputation and possible fines.

green office

Gain insight into the raw materials in your production chain

Ram materials may have limited availability, because of for example:

  • Possible exhaustion
  • Price fluctuations
  • Social risks, such as poor working conditions or environmental pollution

How? The Raw Material Scanner gives insights in possible risks at play in retracting the raw materials used in your production chain. The scanner also gives insights in what you can do to reduce these risks. This way, the scanner supports you in adapting sustainable alternatives in time.

Know your production chain

You might be ‘oblivious’ or have no idea about all activities in your production chain. However, customers, partners, civil organisations and governments hold you responsible. Governments require you to identify and prevent risks in your supply chain. This is called risk management or due diligence.

Or in other words, you’re not allowed to be ‘oblivious’, but you are in fact obligated to act in a socially responsible manner in relation to the entire chain.

Corruption in other countries

When trading or doing business abroad, you might experience corruption and bribery practices.

Unfortunately, corruption is perceived as normal in many countries. Foreign companies take part in corruption, as they see this as the most efficient way to extract resources, do business and/or trade. However, this way foreign companies keep corruption alive.

In countries of origin of these international companies, corruption might be punishable by law. Also when corruption takes place abroad.

It is advisable to really study ways to avoid situations that might lead to corruption. For example, by using models for international contracts.

In the most sever cases, corruption is used as a way for foreign companies to extract resources in a way that the country nor the local people profit, but only local politicians and foreign companies profit. Locals and the (third world) country are left with environmental damage and high costs. For example the corruption activities of Shell in Nigeria.

Or, like in the case of Odebrecht in Latin America, large infrastructure projects come at a high cost, so national politicians receive millions in bribes. Of course, these countries technically cannot afford these high costs of these projects. It is inexcusable that politicians receive millions in bribes when millions of citizens live in poverty.  

Does your company really want to take part in these ‘criminal’ activities?

Sustainable procurement and the government

Governments should be an example in sustainable procurement. This included at first the national governments. These should be followed by regional and local governments, like provinces and municipalities.

The government has the capacity and resources to pursue a socially responsible procurement, setting the path for corporate organizations to follow in its footsteps.

Sustainability in IT is more than being green

When thinking about sustainability in IT, most people think about reducing CO2 emissions and planting trees. However, sustainability in IT is a lot more than being green. It’s about looking with another perspective at your (corporate) organization, in relation to the environment.

A funny contradiction in IT is that IT is seen as very sustainable, as traditional industries are seen as very polluting. Traditional industries do in fact pollute a lot of CO2, like in the oil sector, chemical sector and transportation. However, the IT sector is not very sustainable either.

A few examples of IT being not sustainable

Let me give some examples to paint a clear picture that perhaps IT is green, but it’s in many cases not sustainable.

A large gas and oil producer had outsourced part of its IT activities to an Asian partner. This partner turned out to use a sub-supplier who employed underage employees to carry out all kinds of manual data entry activities. A non-governmental organization discovered this by accident. The entire affair has resulted in negative publicity for the oil producer.  

In this example, the organisation has estimated a risk related to sustainability at the expense of the reputation and expected financial benefits of outsourcing.

Several customers of a small ICT supplier have asked for more insight into their carbon footprint, as this was part of their corporate sustainability policy. However, the ICT supplier was a bit surprised by this request, as their focus was more on realizing a new data centre architecture based on platform as a service (PaaS).

In this second example, the managers were mainly focused on technological developments, and not really on sustainability issues.

We send messages by email and keep all documents digitally, to reduce the use of paper for printing. This totally fits in the corporate sustainability goals. We think we do a great job. The data centres storing all this data are in high demand and expending. Kevin is 10 years old and works in a mine in Africa to extract raw materials for building the computers and chips that are used for data storage. He makes just enough money for him and his family to eat.

This third example shows the extent to which we tend to focus on the chains of the production process that are near to us. We tend to forget the things that happen in other places in the world, but are quite horrible. Due to globalization, these parts of the production process are far away, but it is in fact companies (not only suppliers) that keep these part hidden. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen and it can’t be prevented or improved. 

Sustainable iPhone

Sustainability and profitability

Walmart is an example of an organization that knows how to combine sustainability and higher profitability. The organization has defined thirteen networks around various sustainability-related themes. The networks at Walmart consist of various internal and external stakeholders and primarily aim to reduce the pressure on ecology. For the supply chain network, however, this means not only less packaging material, but also an estimated cost reduction of $ 3.4 billion over the period 2008 to 2013. This is a clear example how sustainability can support profitability. It only needs a bit of effort to start.

However, although this seems remarkable, Walmart is also known for underpaying their employees. This is an ethic part of sustainability in which Walmart clearly doesn’t excel.

sustainable office

Work together on sustainability in IT

It appears that companies needs to increasingly require the IT organization to investigate the information provision. This means that the IT department needs to investigate more precisely human rights, ethics, social involvement and environmental issues. In this way, sustainability is an issues that requires managers and IT to work closely together.

What can go wrong?

In the above described examples, what went wrong?

In the first example, the compliance of the contact to outsource activities has not been monitored properly. Why didn’t they? Corporations increasingly have to follow social responsibility expectations of consumers, clients and governments. Fear of damaging their reputation is in most cases a driving force into investigating suppliers, clients and partners. The IT can contribute by providing portfolio techniques to provide insights into sustainability goals in relation to costs and profits.

In the second example, it seems the IT supplier was surprised by the demand for more insights on sustainability and energy consumption. A growing focus of companies is on their energy consumption, as reducing energy use is a more tangible part of sustainability goals.

In the third example, the IT department was perceiving data storage as an answer to sustainability policies. This appeared to be a bit short sighted. They should’ve known better.

In any case, the subject of sustainability provides the average IT organization with sufficient challenge for the coming years. It is therefore an excellent subject where a proactive IT manager with business sense can demonstrate that IT is more than profitability.

Want to give it a try? Try refurbished devices in your office.

Buy refurbished devices: What to pay attention to?

When buying refurbished devices, one should pay close attention to certain aspects. It can be a bit tricky to buy refurbished devices. Although the price of refurbished devices is really attractive, you never really know what you’re buying.

The following tips will help you to prevent bad quality refurbished devices.

What are refurbished devices?

A refurbished device can be an iPhone, MacBook, smartphone, tablet or laptop. It’s a used device that has been fixed up. Refurbished devices have been used before, but have been carefully refurbished (renovated/renewed) and polished before sale. The devices are revised and where necessary provided with new parts. For example, when necessary, a brand new battery or a new screen. It like new and being put back into factory mode.

The result is a device that can be used for more years to come. The biggest advantage is the price, which is reasonably lower than a new device. But also: refurbished devices are more sustainable than buying new devices.

Do you want to pay less for a device and contribute to a sustainable world? Buy refurbished products.


Reviewed and fixed

The most important disadvantage of refurbished devices is that you don’t really know what you’re getting. It’s a used device in a new jacket. Tests show that the conditions of smartphone can differ considerably, even from the same vendor. This is something to keep in mind when buying refurbished products.

What to expect from refurbished devices? The tips below will help you.

What to do before purchasing refurbished devices?

Is a refurbished product the best alternative for you?

  • Most people compare prices. However, it appears that the price of a refurbished item is being compared with the price of a new item. The reality is that prices of devices drop remarkably after launching a new model. Buying a not-so-recent model really pays off and might be cheaper than a refurbished model.
  • Inform yourself very well about the condition of the device. Venders will try to convince you of external looks of the device, while the internal condition (software, battery, hardware) is way more important when buying refurbished products.
  • Don’t settle for something that is not good (enough). It’s really not worth it. Every aspect of the device should be acceptable.
  • It pays off to compare prices between vendors. It appears there is a big difference in prices between different vendors. At another store you might be able to pay less for a device in a better condition.
  • Compare warranties of vendors. Vendors mostly provide a warranty, but the length of the warranty might vary between vendors. Warranties are somewhere between 6 months and 2 years. That’s quite a big range. As you’ll understand, a legal warranty of 2 years on a refurbished iPhone is great and gives a great security.

A legal warranty might be at place, that shows the legal expected lifespan of the bought devices. However, the legal warranty might be different when buying a refurbished device. Search online about the legal requirements of refurbished technology in your country of residence.

  • Check for a quality mark and reviews. Online stores, but also offline stores have reviews of other customers and quality marks. Check for these, especially when you don’t have any passed experience with the vendor. These reviews might tell you more about the quality of the refurbished products.
refurbished iphone

What to do after purchasing refurbished devices?

Especially when you buy a refurbished device online, check carefully the condition and quality of the device. This might still prevent you from buying crap.

  • In some countries, you have a period of warranty when buying at online stores. In The Netherlands this period is 14 days. Within this period, you can return the product without any reason. Be careful: you mostly have to return the product with the original package.
  • Check the battery. The battery is the most vulnerable part of a device. Check the condition of the battery immediately for the right condition. This can mostly be checked/reviewed in the settings of the device.

There are also Apps available for checking the battery. For an iPhone, for example, the App CoconutBattery is a great App the check the battery health.

  • Review the condition of the product by eye. Is it like the vendor promised? Check exactly the points the vendor stated on the sales page. When it doesn’t meet the promises, send it back. This might be a sign that more unexpected failures might occur later.
  • Does it appear after 14 days that the product is not as promised? Check the warranty and return or ask for fixing.
  • Did the warranty pass? When you purchased an Apple device, you can still contact the Apple customer service or visit an Apple Store to ask a Genius.

Of course, when buying a refurbished or new device, you should always take very good care of it to ensure a long life. This allows you to use the device for the maximum amount of time.