Many employees are "eco-angels" at home but abandon their commitment to be green once they get to their workplace. Perhaps workers feel their small contribution to a greener planet won't have an effect, or perhaps they are not aware that simple changes to their daily routine can go a long way.
But small changes can make a huge difference. Studies show that if 20 employees turned off their PCs during a lunch hour, a business could save more than 3,700 watts of electricity in just 60 minutes; that's enough power to keep an energy efficient light bulb burning for more than 8 days.
"Workplace Sustainability," the interconnection of social, economic and environmental aspects in the workplace, can seem like a daunting challenge because the rewards are often long term. But knowing that you have taken an active role in improving your company's -- and the Earth's -- bottom line can bring great personal satisfaction.
Just as you do at home, here at Mercer County we've quietly and steadily instituted changes of varying magnitudes, bit by bit. For instance, I made it a priority early in this administration to reduce the number of vehicles in our County motor pool, and we introduced several hybrid vehicles to the fleet. We also now use ultra low-sulpher diesel fuel when possible. Our long-term goals include further fleet reductions and switching from gas-thirsty SUVs to smaller, more fuel-efficient models.
And just as you do at home, in our County buildings we've repaired or upgraded our windows where possible and try to keep our thermostats a degree higher or lower depending on the season. We've installed a bike rack, added an in-house cafeteria at the McDade Administration Building and encourage our staff to take fitness walks at lunch time instead of driving off to lunch.
I'm proud to say we've significantly trimmed use of cell phones and had an enormously successful cell phone drive where we collected thousands of phones for reuse that would otherwise have ended up in landfills, polluting the earth with toxic metals and hard plastics.
I'm very proud of a policy that I instated, the Mercer County Engine Idling policy, which is even tougher than that created by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Through the Mercer County Improvement Authority, we have increased the frequency of our Household Hazardous Waste Cleanup Days, and due to popular demand have added even more Electronics Waste Cleanup Days. Even if our society's hunger for the latest and greatest gadget isn't diminished, at least we can dispose of our obsolete electronics in a safe and responsible manner.
Here at the office, we know it's the little things that count-and add up! We encourage recycling of bottles and cans by making it nearly effortless. Buckets are readily visible throughout the building. Like you, we use both sides of the paper whenever possible, use scrap paper for notes and recycle old stationery by putting labels over the names. We've become more reliant on our computers instead of paper files, and I encourage everyone to print only what they need.
As we plan for new construction in the county, we are committed to keeping our environmental footprint as small as we economically can. From the start, our plans to build a new Criminal Courthouse called for construction to meet LEED standards, meaning that one of the largest construction projects in the history of Mercer County also is one of the most environmentally friendly.
Together, let's all aim to Eliminate, Reduce, Re-use, Recycle and Dispose!
Brian M. Hughes
Going Green at Work
- Whenever possible, print out on both sides of the paper
- Rethink what you print; read and file electronically
- Stop unwanted faxes; don't print unnecessary headers
- Reuse paper for notepads and phone messages
- Locate and use recycle buckets
- Bring your own coffee mug; shun sugar packets and small creamers for larger containers
- Refill reusable water bottles
- Turn off your computer monitor if you'll be away from your desk for long periods of time
- Close blinds in the summer to keep rooms cooler; open them in winter to welcome sun's warmth
- Turn off the lights in the restroom
- Take a brisk walk at lunchtime instead of driving
- Rather than meet coworkers for lunch in separate vehicles, carpool together on lunch breaks
- Be vigilant about opening and closing windows depending on the weather; don't let heat or cool air escape unnecessarily