Around the workplace/school/college/University

Many of us spend quite a lot of our time at work, at school or at college/university, and whilst we’re there we’ll be adding to our environmental footprint.  What you can do to cut this footprint depends greatly on where you are and what you do.  Some people are doing jobs that are by their nature high carbon usage or they are constrained in how much they can do to alter the way things are done. Other people have more freedom to change, or at least influence, the about of energy used, what sort of energy it is, what materials are used and how waste is handled.

Therefore here are some potential ideas for things that you might be able to introduce at your workplace or place of education that other people in and around Loughborough have tried themselves.

Ideas that are free and easy to do.

  • Unplug and turn off computers, phone chargers, lights, etc when you leave at night or go on holiday (assuming they aren’t being used for some task whilst you are away of course).
    Impact: This saves energy and also can reduce the costs that your employer/educators are spending on energy. You may be able to get colleagues to join in and/or get support from your management to formalise this action to spread the energy and cost savings wider.
  • Use your own reusable cup or mug for tea/coffee, rather than single use cups, and if you use a kettle at work only fill it for the number of people actually having a drink, rather than constantly topping it up to the maximum.
    Impact: Again this saves energy and reduces waste, which can also save money for the organisation.
  • If you garden, collect tea bags & coffee grounds from your work kitchens/mess rooms and use those in compost, either at home or (if there is space/garden beds) at the organisation itself.
    Impact: Diverting organic waste to composting can cut down on waste costs and also provide a free source of soil improvement for your plants.

Cheap to implement ideas.

  • Suggest to management of the organisation that old light bulbs should be switched for  low energy ones and lights should be on sensors/timers if possible.
    Impact: As in the home LED bulbs cost a little more but save over their longer lifetime. In a work place or school/college/university there are usually a lot more lights than in a normal home, and replacement is often outsourced to a separate department or contractor. You’ll need to talk to your management to get this change underway, but the long term cost savings are often a winning argument. Even if they only change existing bulbs that fail to low energy equivalents it can make a difference. If management are open to spending slightly more to reduce their energy bills, suggesting lighting changes that detect if people are in rooms and turn lights off when empty, or run lights on timers so any left on when the building should be empty can make big savings in otherwise totally wasted energy lighting rooms with nobody in them.

Medium cost ideas.

  • If you do have an organisation that uses lots of single use cups, help your management investigate options to reduce or eliminate their use.
    Impact: Single use cups are often rejected from normal commercial waste recycling services so end up going to landfill. If you can make a case for reusable cups to be used instead that will cut out this waste stream. Some companies such as Vegware will recycle single use “bio-plastic” cups in some areas, but not currently Leicestershire, plus they still require energy to make & transport for just a single use, so reusable cups and mugs makes much more sense.

High cost ideas.

  • Investigate the installation of solar panels on your company/school/college building. Many organisations have large flat roofs that are otherwise empty and could easily have solar PV added.
    Impact: Generating power locally can be used to offset energy used during the day.  Unlike many homes, offices, shops and schools often have much of their energy use during the day when solar will be generating so the power can be used immediately to reduce energy bills considerably.
  • Encourage the use of ultra-low emission vehicles, especially for “last mile” deliveries. Investigate options such as electric vans and cargo bikes.
    Impact: Transporting products and services around can generate a considerable part of an organisation’s carbon footprint.  When it comes time to replace existing company vehicles, suggest the benefits of ultra-low emission vehicles.  These include electric vehicles which can have ranges of 100-200 miles, and carry loads from 1 ton upwards.  For smaller loads, cargo bikes are another option. These can use cycle paths and also have electric drive options, which can mean speedier deliveries if local roads are often congested.