Smart office toolkit guides businesses to green their offices

Submitted by: Tholakele Nene, Tuesday, May 14, 2013

<p>The green office handbook has been designed by the City of Cape Town to help businesses to become greener by providing them with step by step practical guidance (Image Source: City of Cape Town).</p>

The green office handbook has been designed by the City of Cape Town to help businesses to become greener by providing them with step by step practical guidance (Image Source: City of Cape Town).

The City of Cape Town has designed a practical step by step green office toolkit aimed at assisting businesses that want to implement sustainability initiatives in the workplace. The handbook starts with a short overview of the main environmental concerns, and then provides five simple steps that you can follow to make your office more sustainable. These include:

Step1: Get buy-in

Get- buy in by explaining to top management what you would like to do at the office and why it is important. Get other people in the office interested and explain what the advantages of a smart office are.

Step2: Do an eco-audit

Do an eco- audit at the office.  According to the toolkit this will allow you to have an idea of what the current situation in the office is and assist in determining priorities. This can also help you look at what your organisation is using most. It will provide information for creating an action plan for making changes and savings. The toolkit includes a scoping audit (quick overview of the office), eco audit templates (provides support when doing an eco- audit) and a guideline to explain how the eco-audit process works.

Step3: Develop an action plan and environmental policy

In this step you will need to establish a sustainability team first which will be responsible for driving the greening process in your office.  This section of the guideline provides a brief overview of the management process for establishing your sustainability team, defining your policy, planning your strategy and determining baseline information through conducting an eco-audit.

Step 4: Implementation

Implement your action plan through training material, stickers and posters. Training material provided on the Cape Town website includes presentations on water, energy, biodiversity and waste and a list of reminder stickers and posters on the relevant subjects.

Step 5:  Monitor and review

Once you have implemented your action plan you will need to monitor your progress and report on results. According to the toolkit it is a good idea to re-do your eco- audits at a later stage. This allows you to compare results and review your targets. Your results will also need to be shared with management.

In addition to these five simple steps to greening your office, the toolkit provides detailed guidance for offices in the following focus areas:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Waste reduction
  • Water conservation
  • Biodiversity protection

There is also an additional section that deals with tips on how to extend the green initiative beyond the office environment and also provides information on green procurement in the City of Cape Town.

One of the highlights of the booklet is a set of resources that have been developed to accompany the toolkit including posters and presentations to educate staff on green initiatives. For example a “smart A3 poster” that carries 8 green reminders has been developed that can be put up on the office wall to encourage all members of staff on how they can contribute towards the green office initiative. All these resources can be found on the City of Cape Town website.

The handbook can be downloaded from the City of Cape Town website.

There are multiple benefits for businesses to “go green”, some of which include reducing operating and maintenance costs by switching to more energy efficient technologies, reducing water consumption and sourcing products locally; enhancing your company’s reputation and brand; and , creating healthier office environments for staff by using environmentally friendly chemicals.

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Tholakele Nene