How to Make Your Office a “Green” Haven

28 October, 2022 / Bobby Samuels
Businesswoman in a green office space, embodying sustainability in NYC's commercial real estate.

Making your New York City office space “green,” doesn’t solely refer to lush greenery and space for workers to socialize and take a breather. Of course, that’s nice, though.

Going green refers to actively taking measures to reduce your carbon footprint and become more sustainable.

First, you should be sure to select an office space in an energy-efficient “green” building.

The latest skyscrapers in New York City set the global standard for sustainability and “green” office space. One World Trade Center has high-efficiency cooling towers and water harvesting systems. The Bank of America Tower (One Bryant Park) has hospital-grade, 95% filtered air and is North America’s first-ever LEED Platinum-certified skyscraper. One Vanderbilt comprises 90% recycled material and is LEED-certified.

All place green innovation at the forefront, from rainwater collection to natural light filtration to cogeneration HVAC systems.

The above options are phenomenal if you have the budget to lease office space in a trophy Class A building with modern amenities. However, there are plenty of other affordable, energy-efficient options.

You don’t have to break the bank to do your part. You can do little things that go a long way to reducing your carbon footprint while saving you costs in the long term.

Sunlight-filtering glass and high-performance glazing reduce heating and electricity usage. Rooftop water collection can mitigate engineering and utility costs. Natural light and greenery can improve workplace morale.

Plus, you can do things as simple as replacing those bright fluorescent lights with energy-efficient LED lights, going digital, and not putting the A/C on full blast 24/7.

We put together this list of ten little things you can do today to make your office space a little greener and more sustainable tomorrow. We hope this points you in the right direction.

1. Reduce Paper Usage (Go 100% Digital)

While going completely digital and reducing your paper consumption isn’t an overnight solution, the fact is we’re in 2022 and in the digital age. There’s no longer a need to use paper as much as we do. Shockingly, the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year. Worse, 45% of this paper ends up in the trash by the end of the workday.

If you do have to use paper, consider the following printing practices:

  • Use recycled printing paper
  • Consider refillable ink cartridges
  • Print double-sided whenever you can
  • Only print what you need
  • Use smaller font sizes- they consolidate pages
  • Do not print in color- only black and white

While everyone will need to print here and there, there’s no longer an excuse to be a paper-based business. There are plenty of digital storage options, and reducing your paper usage not only helps the environment. It helps your operating efficiency and expenses.

Think of how you can do away with paper and go digital, from paperless billing to digital filing.

2. Sustainable Office Supplies and Furniture

When looking for office supplies and furniture, ask yourself these three questions- do I already have it? Do I really need it? Is it sustainable?

Granted, when it comes to office supplies, everyone needs pens, lightbulbs, trash bags, and whatnot.

However, do an audit of your office space; if you already have it, don’t over-purchase. If you need something new, go with high-quality products that last longer.

Consider products like refillable pens, reusable notebooks, staple-less staplers, and longer-lasting LED lights.

You should also consider purchasing sustainable office furniture. While sustainable office furniture is pricier upfront, it has a longer shelf-life than conventional furniture that will end up in a landfill anyways in a few years. Consider items made from recycled materials, repurposed pieces of furniture, and components that can be easily maintained.

Ultimately, this mindset of office supply and furniture shopping will save you time and money while limiting your waste.

3. Recycle

Recycling is a cost-effective and easy way to do your part to reduce the amount of waste bogging down local landfills.

Consider starting an office recycling program but do it in a way that encourages and incentivizes your employees without patronizing them.

Put recycling bins in prominent locations around your office space. Place them near desks, printers, garbage cans, and break rooms. Clearly communicate what items are recyclable, and reward your employees’ efforts to meet your recycling goals.

It could also build office camaraderie.

Another thing you can do is consider upcycling old office furniture. Rather than just doing away with unwanted furniture, you can give them to employees, donate them, or repurpose them.

4. Involve and Motivate Your Employees

Going green isn’t a one-person job, and you aren’t Captain Planet. It takes an entire team.

Motivating and incentivizing your employees doesn’t have to start and stop with an office-wide recycling program. Finding a way to get all of your employees involved and engaging them can help increase your office’s sustainability initiatives and decrease your carbon footprint.

It also helps with morale, productivity, and teamwork.

One thing you can do is encourage eco-friendly commuting. After all, 27% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. Consider motivating your employees to carpool, walk, bike, or take the subway. Setting up an office-wide carpooling system or offering your employees bike racks or storage rooms may help.

Employees don’t want to be lectured or forced to do something, especially if they aren’t all about the climate and sustainability. Think about a soft push by setting goals and rewarding them with incentives.

5. Switch Up Your Lighting

Maximizing natural light in your New York City office space can dramatically increase employee productivity while improving overall well-being and morale.

From your end, as a business owner, it can also improve your energy consumption and cut electricity costs.

Yet beyond adding giant windows to your office space to let more light in, you can also take measures with your office’s lighting.

For instance, switching to LED lighting requires less energy. The bulbs last up to six times longer than other lighting options.

Motion-activated lights can also prevent unnecessary energy usage. Lights will automatically turn on and off depending on whether or not a room is occupied.

6. Evaluate Renewable Energy Opportunities

Class A trophy buildings like The Bank of America Tower set sustainability and renewable energy standards. However, if you’re looking for office space with renewable energy, you don’t have to break the bank and pay over $100 per square foot.

Many affordable New York City office spaces have undergone significant upgrades with onsite renewable energy systems powered by solar, geothermal, wind, hydroelectricity, and biomass energy.

Talk to a reputable commercial broker and tenant rep. Evaluate your options if you prefer office space with renewable energy.

7. Shut Everything off at the End of the Day

There’s no reason to waste energy if nobody’s in the office.

At the work day’s end, try to shut off all electronics and lighting. Even consider adjusting the HVAC or turning it off.

Using unnecessary energy is not only bad for the environment. It’s terrible for your utility bills and a waste of money.

8. Monitor Your HVAC

Little changes to your thermostat can create a more comfortable environment in your New York City office space while lowering energy consumption.

Too often, offices are over-cooled during the summer and overheated during the winter.

According to the Department of Energy & Environment, during the summer, you should set your thermostat to 78 degrees during office hours and 85 degrees after office hours. They also recommend setting your thermostat to 68 degrees during office hours and 60-65 degrees after hours throughout the winter.

Regular maintenance of your HVAC system can also improve your air quality. It ensures it runs properly, distributes air more evenly and steadily, and reduces your energy bill.

9. Consider Office Plants

Placing plants throughout your office helps the office vibe. After all, studies show that office plants can help reduce stress,  increase productivity, and improve your mood.

Beyond this, office plants also improve your office space’s air quality by releasing oxygen and absorbing airborne pollutants.

10. Utilize Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products and Services

Eco-friendly cleaning products do not release harmful chemicals into the environment like standard cleaning products. Moreover, they help limit your, your workers, and your cleaning staff’s exposure to these hazardous materials.

If you self-clean your office space, practically all standard cleaning products have a green version available for purchase.

If you are considering hiring a service, numerous eco-friendly office cleaning companies throughout New York City exist.


Climate change and sustainability are hot-button issues, especially with midterm elections on the horizon.

However, they shouldn’t be controversial. Everybody wants the same thing- a happier and healthier life, a more positive work environment, and a better outlook for our future. Decreasing your carbon footprint and going with environmentally-friendly options when you can, at work and in your personal life, is an excellent way of doing this.

When it comes to making your New York City office space a “green” haven, there are small changes you can make to make a massive impact.

You will undoubtedly see the rewards and benefits over the long term.

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