Switch off your PC at night – and other tips for a greener office

Switching off lights, computers and printers after work and printing on both sides of paper are among 10 simple steps that employees can take at work to cut energy use and protect the environment published by the Trades Union Congress today.

Workplaces and work-related transport generate around two-thirds of the UK's carbon dioxide emissions, according to the TUC. UK workplaces generate over 66 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year from the energy and resources they consume, yet businesses waste 30% of the energy they buy, on average. For many organisations, a 20% cut in energy costs is easily and cheaply achievable, and would be the same as a 5% increase in sales, said the TUC.

TUC's 10 steps to 'greening the workplace'

Switch off all computer equipment, appliances, motors and machinery when not in use.

Take the stairs not the lift.

If your workplace is too hot, turn the heating down instead of opening a window.

If it is too cold in winter, ensure radiators and heaters aren't obstructed and ask your employer to install better insulation or even combined heat and power.

Check if lighting is on unnecessarily in the middle of the day – 80% of the UK's lighting energy is used at work.

If you are the last to leave, make sure you turn everything off behind you, including machinery, printers, drinks machines, fans, lights, etc.

Set up a green travel plan. Some employers offer incentives for lower energy ways of travelling, e.g. cycling, public transport, car-sharing and walking.

Apply the three 'Rs': recycling is great, but reducing waste and re-using is even better. Print on both sides of paper, re-use envelopes, and think about ways of reducing other waste that is generated in your workplace.

Reduce water use at work through publicity and simple adjustments to taps and toilets.

Work together for a greener workplace – talk to your workmates and your union about working out solutions with your employer.

The difference that small contributions by individuals can make to the environment was highlighted in an article on the eco-friendly efforts of US retail giant Wal-Mart last month.

Fortune magazine reported: "If each customer who visited Wal-Mart in a week bought one long-lasting compact fluorescent (CF) light bulb, the company estimates, that would reduce electric bills by $3 billion, conserve 50 billion tons of coal, and keep one billion incandescent light bulbs out of landfills over the life of the bulb."