How To Draw Up a Green Office Action Plan
The first role of the appointed coordinator or committee is to construct a formal green office action plan and strategy for reducing carbon emissions and use of energy and resources.
Putting Your Ideas Into PracticeThe completion of the office walk-round and green policy should have helped formulate clear ideas about what needs to done and how. The newly appointed coordinator or committee can now begin their role by crystallising problem areas – such as recycling, energy, office supplies, green building and pollution - and solutions in the form of an action plan.
The plan is essentially a realisation of the statements and ambitions advertised in the environmental policy. Its aim is to demonstrate how these ideas will be implemented, when, at what cost and benefit, and who will be responsible.
The Form Of The Action PlanThe action plan will need to be presented to senior management for approval and so will need to be concise and easy to follow. It is therefore a good idea to arrange it in a table form. This can be split up into rows for each ‘activity’, listed in order of priority, with a series of corresponding columns where further details can be entered. The columns could be headed:
- Office Activity – This is the activity deemed environmentally unfriendly, such as the use of energy inefficient light bulbs or lack of plastic recycling facilities.
- Environmental Impact – The detrimental effect of the activity on the environment.
- The green office ‘action’ – This details the responsive actions to be taken and when.
- Savings – This could comprise three columns showing potential savings in pounds, CO2 and KWh of the new action.
- Estimated Cost - If applicable, the estimated of the action.
- Responsibility – which member(s) of the home committee is responsible.
Does The Activity Qualify For A Tax Break Or Loan?The plan could also include columns that note whether the action would be applicable for loan or an Enhanced Capitol Allowance (ECA).
The energy-saving ECA scheme has been set up to encourage organisations to invest in eco-friendly technologies by giving them a 100% tax relief on the qualified expenditure in the year of purchase. The list of applicable technologies are included in the Energy Technology List (ETL), which is managed by the Carbon Trust.
An Open All Inclusive ActivityIn the interests of making the green office initiative as inclusive as possible, the action plan should not be a covert operation but carried out openly in the workplace. If the plan forms part of the workplace policy then it will encourage all employees to do their bit to help.
Be RealisticWhen drawing up the action plan, always try to research each activity carefully and formulate a realistic and specific action. The idea of the plan is to think through each problem to a conclusion, so that the next stage can be used to focus on putting the ideas into practice.
It is useless formulating as many problems as possible with the idea that ‘we’ll work out the solutions as we go along’. This defeats the point of the action plan and will only result in disorganisation and a disheartening number of unrealised goals.
Start SmallIt is actually better to start small with a few realistic objectives. There is no rule against revising your action plan with new targets at a later date, so why not warm up first by tackling the easiest problems that offer the most immediate solutions. This will give you some confidence and experience so you’re ready to face up to some of the trickier problems.
A Simple But Significant StartOne excellent starting action could be in changing the office paper supply to a more environmentally friendly option. With each office employee reportedly screwing up and throwing away two trees-worth of paper every year, and 80% of office waste consisting of stationary, there is an enormous potential for an efficient recycling policy.
The action would be the purchase of chlorine-free, recycled paper for the office stationary and official printing. The committee member in charge would estimate the total paper currently bought annually, work out the total cost and then compare it with the new environmentally friendly option. Although the new option will likely work out more expensive, the difference could potentially be offset by introducing an action to reduce overall paper use.