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Green Offices

An office with a desk plant and a large window over a garden


#Green Business #Sustainability at School and Work #Sustainable Buildings


Valencia Meredith

Green office spaces are growing more in necessity every year. According to the EPA, office buildings account for nearly 6 billion tons of basic material consumption, 41% of energy usage, 13% of freshwater extraction, and 37% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US. To maintain and manage office wastewater and water infrastructure alone, $255 billion would need to be invested over the next five years for inefficient buildings. Green office spaces and buildings offer a sustainable solution that diminishes economic spending, improves and reduces man-made environmental impact, and increases resource efficiency.

The WWF established the World Wildlife Green Office Program to tackle the environmental issues ensued by office buildings. WWF created a model for offices to reference as a resource to build their sustainable workplace management system. The model includes solutions such as office recycling programs; introducing recycled paper from sustainably-sourced businesses; using shared printers instead of personal; sustainable travel; reducing air travel and utilizing trains; reducing operation cost and energy; using motion-sensor toilets, lights, and sinks; installing LED and natural lighting; and turning off appliances when not in use.

Some key issues around the implementation of green buildings include the high initial cost that comes with initial purchase and installation and the unreliability that comes with new products and technologies. Fortunately, studies show that the lifespan of efficient green technology such as ENERGY STAR products results in less money spent over time with breakeven points between 2 and 12 years (EPA). Additionally, EPA has community tools available for communities to make informed decisions about green materials and technology.

A few well-known green offices are: Pixel Building (Melbourne, Australia), this office building is the first carbon-neutral building in Australia that generates its own power and water source on the building’s site; the Bahrain World Trade Center (Baharian), which utilizes desert winds to produce electricity for their office building; and Shanghai Tower (Shanghai, China), which installed a second layering on its building’s façade to capture air and produce natural ventilation and uses kinetic energy to power the exterior lighting.

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