Eco-friendly office space: Modern ways to make your office greener

Contemporary office culture has come a long way since people first started talking about green solutions. Here are a few things to consider when you’re taking steps toward creating more sustainable office practices.

Don’t Forget Your Tech

In today’s office world, suggestions like “recycle your paper” are swiftly becoming much less relevant than energy saving tips involving technology. Although, of course, it’s still important to recycle waste paper, or choose recycled paper in the first place, in increasingly paperless offices it pays to consider the energy use of your electronics. If every person in your office is using a computer, imagine the impact of a company-wide policy governing their energy usage.

Program all computers to enter sleep mode after ten minutes of inactivity, and shut down your computer completely at the end of each day rather than allowing it to enter sleep mode. And if you’re still using screen savers, skip it—screen savers are a vestige of the early days of computers, when the image of your desktop would eventually be burned into your screen if left on too long. A static image—or better yet, black—requires much less energy to run than a moving screen saver. Or better yet, if you’re walking away for a few minutes, just turn your monitor off completely. It won’t affect your computer’s memory, performance, or state in any way, but saves energy just like turning off a light switch.

Choose Energy-Saving Appliances

There are many upgrades you can make in your appliances that will go a long way toward saving power, many of which are already becoming the new standard. Just as energy efficient light bulbs are the new norm, LCD monitors have been swiftly replacing the CRT monitors of the past, and if you haven’t made the change yet you should as soon as possible—not only are they three times as efficient, but the upgrade is inevitable. It’s also worth it in both the long and short run to invest in efficient hardware—when buying your computer processors and accessories, look at Energy Star 4.0 ratings or high EPEAT marks.

There are many things offices don’t even think about that can be made more efficient with upgrades—for example, using virtualization technology to consolidate your servers, reducing your need for multiple physical servers (which are huge energy suckers).

Consider Green or Alternative Buildings

The amount of resources used for brick-and-mortar buildings and traditional methods of construction are often overlooked. The Construction Materials Recycling Association estimates that the construction and demolition industries account for 250 million tons of waste each year (which doesn’t include roads or bridges), and these C&D materials make up approximately 35 percent of all waste generated annually. Luckily, there are greener modes of construction for office space. LEED-certified buildings are increasingly becoming a popular trend in CRE. Through LEED, developers and owners are provided with measurable solutions for creating more sustainable buildings. There are also alternative options, especially if you’re feeling a bit more creative, such as such as PVC fabric buildings, which require a fraction of the construction materials or transport, allow greater amounts of natural light to enter, and are made of entirely recyclable materials.

Incorporate Telecommuting

Telecommuting is more feasible in the workplace now than ever before. With dozens of ways of instantly communicating through video, audio, and computer screen shares, the necessity of in-person meetings has been largely reduced. If your employees or partners can work from home, they save a bundle in terms of the energy that would otherwise be spent on commuting. If you have meetings with clients or partners that would usually require someone driving for miles, consider having digital meetings whenever possible. You might want to allow employees to work from home a day or two out of the week. You’ll save money on your office resources while also saving some gas. 44 million Americans currently telecommute full-time, and that number is growing daily because it offers so many practical and environmental advantages.

In this constantly evolving modern workplace, the ways we think about going green need to keep evolving as well. What are some other things you implement to make your office greener? Let us know in the comments below!

About the author:

This post was authored by Peter Kim, a freelance writer with a passion for the environment and green business. He has worked for a home improvement company and writes about the construction industry, maintenance advice and tips on how to live a greener life. 

‘Little Showcase of Horrors’ – More Historic Portland

A few weeks ago we posted a blog post with a few of our favorite buildings in Portland. We thought it was fun so here are some more beautiful buildings that our photographers have taken shots of.

New Market Theater Block


Built in 1872, this Old Town building’s name comes from the fact that it originally housed a market on the first floor and Portland’s first theater on the second floor.


The first floor arcade was highlighted by a total of 28 marble produce stalls.  For much of the 20th century the building was used to store car parts until 1980 when it was renovated into a retail and office building.

Also of note, The Portland Symphony Orchestra was officially founded in 1882 and started in the New Market Theater block.

The Brewery Blocks

I’m sure The Brewery Blocks need little introduction to any Portlanders. To those reading from elsewhere, The Brewery Blocks were the location of the City Brewery and later the (and more famously) Blitz-Weinhard Brewery from the mid 1800’s to 1999. The oldest buildings remaining were built in 1908, including the Brewhouse Tower.

In 1999 the Weinhard brand was sold to Miller Brewing Co. and brewing was subsequently sent to the Olympia brewery in Tumwater, WA. The Brewery Blocks, which by this point had increased to 5 blocks, were put up for sale and in 2000 were redeveloped into a mixed-use project with office, retail residential spaces.

The Brewery Blocks’ most famous tenant is Henry’s 12th Street Tavern, which features 100 beers on tap, almost entirely from Oregon. Powell’s Books, while not in the Brewery Blocks, borders block number 2.

Smith’s Block

Originally built in 1872, Smith’s block was just one of nine Portland buildings featuring one of the more popular Portland cast iron patterns. Now, it is the only survivor amongst those buildings.

During the 1950’s, the quarter of the building on 1st and Ash was torn down and turned into a parking lot. Despite this loss, the rest of the block remains and has been restored as recently as 2008.

Stay tuned! More to come and as always, send us your suggestions PDX!

Is Portland LEEDing the Sustainability Race?

"General Automotive Building Portland Oregon LEED"

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We all hear about the ‘Greening’ of our office buildings across the country and Portland, Oregon, is certainly no exception. With more and more national press spotlighting Portland, Portlanders are justifiably proud of their majestic city.

The General Automotive Building located at 411 NW Park Avenue, in the heart of the Pearl District in Portland is one of many local showpieces for the core principles of Green Design and Construction. The building is striving to earn LEED Platinum Certification, which will further reinforce Portland’s reputation as the nation’s leader in sustainable urban development.

This remodel of a 1930s building blends the charm of tradition and sustainability of a modern, efficient Green Building.  The remodel allows for increased water and energy efficiency, and a superior work environment in terms of indoor air quality, natural light, design and construction quality. The design team at ConoverBond worked with the existing structural systems, column bays, operative windows and the original brick walls to preserve as much of the original structure as possible.

This is one example, but would love to see and hear from you…what are some of your other favorite green building remodels?  Post your comments here or check out our Pinterest Boards and let’s reinforce the LEED!

How Much Red Before Going Green?

Federal Building

In the days of “Occupy Wall Street” where social media and the internet showcases the delivery of various political and social viewpoints to the masses at the speed of thought, never before witnessed in our history, we are still slow to push forward some initiatives that would greatly help this country.  This occurred to me while reading a very interesting post from a Sustainability Roundtable member

I am talking, in particular, about Green Building and Sustainable Development in our cities.  This notion of incorporating green building practices in retrofitting and new building developments has been bantered about, and vehemently debated throughout the country for over a decade and yet we are still at the beginning stages of a wholesale build-out.

I can’t help but be confused by all the differing reports from industry experts regarding the true cost of building green.  The extremely conscious city of Portland in the beautiful state of Oregon is no exception to the differing opinions on how much green initiatives to be incorporated into the development plans of the city.

No doubt, on a national level, the awareness is growing and some states and local municipalities have already implemented Energy Performance Regulations requiring various levels of disclosure and reporting.

The big question in my mind is, where is the bottleneck that is preventing this renaissance?  There are many incentives and subsidies that help diffuse the pain of high capital costs, as well as, the recurring operational cost savings from a “greener” building.

In the latest Sustainability Roundtable: Management Best Practices

publication, they outlined three recent trends:

  1. The most respected statistically normalized studies consistently demonstrate that green buildings create value through leasing (5%) and sale price (5-7%) premiums.
  2. When consultants are not overpaid, green buildings and, specifically, green building certification, are in fact far less costly to achieve (0-2% additional cost) than many real estate professionals assume.
  3. There is increasing recognition of the health and productivity benefits of green buildings.

Another key takeaway from the report stated, “leading companies are moving to a more sustainable leased space to lower operating costs, reduce environmental risks, increase productivity, improve recruiting and retention, implement corporate sustainability mandates, and enhance brand and reputation.”

It all sounds great but I am neither a civil engineer nor a city planner, so where is the Beef?  What else needs to be done in order to motivate a faster change?  Your voice is welcome!