Earth Day has come and gone, but there are still exciting ways to contribute to a healthier planet year round. Telecommuting is one of our favorite ways here at PGi to be green and productive, and for teleworkers, you can be green, productive and trendy right in your home office.
Here are a six home office design ideas with an eco-friendly flair:
The fastest way to spruce up your home office is with a coat of paint. Choose interior paints with low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) to reduce ozone and fog formation, as well as health issues like respiratory illnesses and memory impairment.
When choosing the best color for your home office, think about what you want to experience when working at home.
- Creative inspiration: Green.
- Calm and collected: Light pink/rose.
- Focus and tranquility: Pale yellow/almond.
- Soothing and thoughtful: Light blue.
Furniture is the centerpiece of your office, but can also be the biggest bane to our environment with deforestation and chemically treated particle board. Here are some fun ways to stock your office with great furniture that doesn’t harm our planet:
- Recycled furniture: A fantastic way to load your home office with unique pieces is to recycle old furniture from garage sales, antique stores and thrift shops. With a fresh coat of paint and new hardware, you’ve saved perfectly good wood from the landfill and given your office a fantastic conversation piece.
- DIY: Turning everyday items into something beautiful is a great way to be eco-friendly and stylish. Check out these 18 DIY desks to enhance your office, including a desk made out of books: http://www.decoist.com/2012-05-17/diy-desks/
- Buy green: Sometimes there’s no other option than buying new, so when you do, buy green as often as you can. Choose furniture made of eco-friendly woods, like cork and bamboo, and sustainable, organic and/or recycled materials.
According to the EPA, indoor air within homes and buildings can be “seriously more polluted” than outdoor air in even the largest American city. To improve the air and design of your home office, here are five plants that will brighten, purify and detoxify the room.
- Areca palm: 8.5 out of 10 on the NASA purifying scale
- Lady palm: 8.5
- Rubber plant: 8.0
- English ivy: 7.8
- Peace lily: 7.5
Lighting keeps your home office bright and engaging. Energy-efficient light bulbs can also save you and the planet green. With up to 60% less electricity and 9-10 times the lifespan of incandescent bulbs, fluorescent (CFLs), light-emitting diod (LEDs) or halogen bulbs save on energy costs to both your wallet and the environment. For eye and planet health, opt for CFLs that have the same color-rendering index (CRI) of sunlight.
We know that the easiest way to be greener is to reduce paper consumption. While it’s not possible to completely eliminate paper usage in an office, here are some ways to reduce the waste:
- Apps: Whenever possible, opt for digital versus paper. Take notes in Evernote, mark-up a contract using Google Docs, manage meetings in Microsoft Office Outlook, go paperless for bills and sign documents digitally.
- Chalkboards: For brainstorming or just jotting down voicemail messages, chalkboards are a fantastic way to add a fun and productivity enhancing decorating element in your office.
- Whiteboards: Digital whiteboards are fun way to reduce paper waste and save your doodles, notes and brainstorms digitally to enhance productivity.
One of the biggest contributors to your home office’s carbon footprint—almost half of the total energy consumption—is heating/cooling and power consumption, even when you think everything is turned off. According to the Lawrence Berkley Nation Laboratory, standby power consumption accounts for 5-10 percent of your household energy consumption.
- Smart power strips: Reduce phantom power drains with these power strips that cut off electricity to products in standby mode, like printers, computers and TV.
- Use natural cooling and heating: Bring the outside in with fans to cool your home office and sunlight to warm it up.
- Energy star: Use Energy Star as your yardstick when designing home heating and cooling systems. EnergyStar.gov has tips on how to save energy at home with programmable thermostats, energy efficient product recommendations and more.
A greener planet begins in our home, with the average U.S. residence using 940 kilowatthours per month—nearly four times the global average. Teleworkers have taken the first step toward environmental savings by cutting out the commute at least a few days per week. Now, using the home office design ideas above, even working from home can contribute to a bright, healthy and eco-friendly future.
Image courtesy of Mother Nature Network.