Making Environmental Awareness a Priority in Your Workplace

August 6, 2015
Clock Icon 5 min read

It’s safe to say that most of us understand how important it is to be conscious of the environment in our day-to-day routines.

But when we’re at work, these important principles are sometimes forgotten.

This could be for a number of reasons:

  • Workplace stress, conflict and pressures distracting us.
  • Budget restrictions preventing changes from being made.
  • A lack of awareness of the environmental problems unique to the workplace.

environmental awareness workplace

If you identify these issues in your workplace, you might think of them as huge barriers to becoming environmentally friendly. However, knowing what prevents us from working in the most eco-friendly way possible is the first step towards righting the wrongs and making a difference.

How can workplaces improve environmental practices?

This post covers a range of approaches you can take to educate your co-workers on the importance of environmental awareness in the workplace. It talks about which areas you should apply most of your attention to and why, which helps you start making the necessary changes.

Let’s start with a straightforward one:


Conserving Energy

There are so many simple measures you can take to conserve energy and save a great deal of money in the business.

What to do:

Follow all the obvious principles that are incredibly easy to adopt on a day-to-day basis at work.

natural light environmentally friendly office

To conserve energy you should: 

  • Be careful with running water.
  • Use recycled paper towels, or an eco-friendly hand dryer.
  • Maximise natural light where possible.
  • Install automatic lights.
  • Program PCs to hibernate or shut down at a set time (enable any users working outside normal working hours to override this).
  • Use heating and/or air conditioning systems only when needed (based on a thermostat with agreed settings).

Energy isn’t the only thing that costs businesses

Taxes and levies – such as the climate change levy, emissions from transport levies and air emissions charges – add to those costly bills too.

Your senior management team may be surprised to find just how much additional capital the business can benefit from in implementing practices to save energy.


Production

Much of the environmental damage being done by a business can be traced to their original production process, so you need to assess where there is room for improvement.

drill construction working wood

Research these area to improve production efficiency:

  • Are there suitable alternative production methods that could reduce the environmental damage your production processes are currently causing?
  • Minimise areas of excessive waste.
  • Identify materials used in the organisation’s production process that you can substitute for more environmentally-friendly alternatives.
  • Is all equipment well maintained and up to date? For example: machinery with defects can produce environmentally hazardous gases.

What to do:

Request access to risk assessments records to identify any equipment that needs scheduled maintenance.


Supply Chain

You have full control over the impact of your organisation’s activities on the environment, but you don’t have that much control over the activities of suppliers. So although you can’t explicitly manage your suppliers operations, the following questions offer you guidance for ensuring you’re part of an environmentally conscious supply chain.

environmentally friendly suppliers

Find out how eco-friendly suppliers are by asking: 

  • How frequently are supplier audits undertaken?
  • Are all suppliers suitably accredited and compliant with the relevant regulations to your industry?
  • What certifications do your suppliers hold?
  • Do they have responsible corporate policies?
  • What about the supplies themselves? Are you purchasing in the most environmentally friendly manner (i.e. larger orders compared to smaller, frequent orders)?
  • Are your supplies made from environmentally friendly materials?

What to do:

Sit down with operations and take an interest in how your organisation sources its supplies and who you work with.

Is there a way everyone can benefit from switching to a renewable energy option? Is there equipment that can save energy over time? Perhaps there are more environmentally viable relationships that you can pursue with alternative suppliers.


Workplace Culture: Going Green

Don’t just look at reducing your organisation’s current levels of environmental damage – you can do more to make sure that your organisation is actively working hard to reduce its carbon footprint.

Just getting a desk plant can make a difference to productivity and morale!

By giving your work environment a nature themed face-lift by introducing plants, fish tanks and such, you can stimulate happiness and motivation in employees who value the environment and appreciate nature.

Furthermore, schemes such as incentivising a communal transport to work scheme can help encourage camaraderie between employees, reduce absences and improve punctuality (no one wants to let their side down!) while also being beneficial for the environment.

What to do:

Begin to offset your organisation’s energy use.

  • Get involved in environmental charities (such as tree planting projects) while making a public pledge to the environment.
  • Establish a water saving scheme, such as collecting rainwater and filtering it for use in your office.
  • Set up an environmentally friendly travel to work scheme. For example: invest in a communal minibus, arrange car share schedules, incentivise public transport or encourage cycling to work.

cycling to work eco friendly


What To Do & Why It’s Beneficial

Make changes in your workplace that help benefit the environment:

  • Conserve energy by monitoring usage.
  • Implement measures to limit consumption where possible.
  • Examine your organisation’s production process, and identify any adaptations that make it more environmentally friendly.
  • Offset your organisation’s impact on the environment by creating a greener workplace, as well as getting involved in environmental projects.

In addition to the environmental and money-saving benefits, your organisation will:

  • Become increasingly eligible for certifications and accreditation.
  • Enjoy further success in meeting client & supplier requirements.
  • Benefit from an improved brand image.
  • Appeal to a wider pool of possible recruitment candidates.
  • Potentially attract more investment opportunities.

If you’re ready to make these changes or you’ve successfully convinced decision-makers to join you on the journey to an environmentally friendly operation, then start thinking carefully about how to execute all of this in the long term!


How to Prioritise & Set Targets

Look at the activities currently taking place in your workplace, and decide which ones need immediate, extensive attention.

Essential – address activities which do not comply with legislation or cause environmental damage.

Very important – identify activities with the potential to breach legislation or cause environmental damage.

Important – consider activities that require changes to meet best practice.

Desirable – take into account activities that could do with a more proactive approach.

reviewing data

Other environmental targets to focus on:

  • Create an effective environmental policy which sets a clear direction for the organisation to follow.
  • Carry out an audit of your organisation’s activities to identify areas of improvement and the environmental legislation that applies.
  • Establish operating procedures and controls to implement the environmental policy properly.
  • Allocate environmental responsibilities.
  • Ensure all staff receive training. Staff need to understand why changes are being made and the impact they have on all levels of the organisation. Environmental Awareness training helps your employees understand their required role.
  • Review environmental performance on a regular basis to check whether the system is achieving the required results.

Want more information on how to create an environmental policy for your organisation?

High Speed Training’s Environmental Awareness training course covers what you need to know about carrying out an environmental audit, complying with environmental legislation and implementing an effective environmental management system. It can help you get to grips with making your workplace the most eco-friendly environment it can be.


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