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Wednesday, 23 September 2009

24 ways to become a greener tenant/occupier

In the UK with the introduction of legislation making it compulsory for all Landlords and Sellers of both commercial and residential properties to have an Energy Performance Certificates for all properties, the public are becoming more aware of just how inefficient some buildings are. This has an impact on energy bills. Some experts are predicting that this could lead to a two-tier market with many tenants/purchasers staying clear of energy inefficent buildings.

However, if you are not planning to move properties, is there anything a tenant or occupier can do so that they are improving the carbon footprint as a business.

Here are 24 ways for tenants/occupiers to become greener:

1. Consider switching energy suppliers to suppliers who obtain their power from renewable sources. Many of the large energy companies have so-called "green tariffs" and all energy companies are required by law to obtain a percentage of their electricity from renewable sources but Ecotricity ( leads the way in suppliers spending £410.49 in 2008 per customer on constructing new renewable energy sources.

2. Consider fitting solar panels to the roof of your offices, factory, industrial unit. There may be government grants available for these works. The payback can be a very long time and you may need Landlord's consent if you are a tenant.

3. Replace all lightbulbs with energy saving bulbs. It is strange that lots of businesses are outstanding green at home but leave their green credentials at home when they come to work.

4. Buy your employees bicycles. The Bike to Work scheme is very favourable and a very cheap perk for employers to offer to their staff. There are hundreds of schemes in operation. There is also information on the government's web site. See link below

5. Reward staff who walk to work eg. offer to buy them a pair of trainers if they can prove that they have walked to work for a consecutive period of say 6 months.

6. Fill cavity walls and install loft insulation. Just as important for commercial buildings as it is for homes.

7. Use eco-friendly cleaning products such as Ecover

8. Use recycled stationery and notepaper. Available from most suppliers and printers now at reasonable prices. No excuse for not doing this really.

9. Use plug boards which automatically switch off monitors, printers and copiers and any other machines and office equipment that don't need to be kept on at night.

10. Install staff showers and cycle racks to encourage staff to cycle to work.

11. Instigate car shares with available lifts advertised on the company's intranet or on a noticeboard. Have simple written agreements made to give staff to cover cost sharing and liability.

12. Make it easy for staff to work at home by setting up secure internet access via VPN or Citrix or other secure systems. Consider funding home broadband costs.

13. Encourage all staff to use email instead of post. Scan in attachments and don't send a hard copy of the letter as well. Great for getting round postal strikes this one.

14. Scan all incoming mail to assist staff working at home. Move towards a paperless office.

15. Get a green building constructed for you or have your building retro-fitted to be energy-efficient. There are many innovations that can produce astonishing results such as lime and hemp walls, air to heat exchange heating systems, grey water drainage systems, heat sinks.

16. Buy a gas-powered or electric-powered company minibus and collect employees from their homes instead of them driving the work.

17. Provide interest free loans to staff to enable them to buy electric or hybrid cars.

18. Reward staff who come up with green ideas or practices with an extra day's holiday or green vouchers purchasing green products.

19. Highlight the best green ideas/products on the web site to encourage staff to be more green both at work and home.

20. Give gifts from green suppliers eg. solar powered battery packs for mobile phones and mp3 players.

21. Ensure all of your catering is locally sourced to minimise "food miles". Ask questions of your existing suppliers and threaten to withdraw your business unless they give assurances that their food is locally sourced.

22. Switch tea, coffee, sugar and biscuits to fair trade.

23. Use video-conferencing to minimise unnecessary travel between offices or between clients and your offices.

24. Give time off to staff to do green activities such as voluntary work for local wildlife trusts. This raises morale and could be a cheap way to incentivise staff. A lot of these wildlife trusts have corporate schemes which can be used as team-building activities.