5 Ways AECs Can Go Green With Eco-Friendly Office Printing
Sustainability is an increasingly important topic in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) sector as both consumers and employees become more eco-conscious. Research shows that 61% of workers globally believe that sustainable practices in the workplace should be mandatory.
The preference for sustainability is already reflected in consumer choices, particularly in interior design where the biophilic aesthetic is gaining popularity. Upcycled and recycled materials are also becoming more prominent.
What is an eco-friendly office?
An eco-friendly office simply means a workplace that is environmentally sustainable and minimises resource usage. Not only are they good for the planet, but they also benefit businesses: Green offices can lead to cost savings from lower utility bills, greater productivity, and improved employee morale.
Implementing sustainable practices at the workplace can be simple. These range from broad systemic changes such as installing better lighting and ventilation systems or moving to a certified green building, to changing simple habits like implementing an office recycling programme or incentivising employees to use public transport.
Rather than overhauling all existing systems, it is vital that organisations take a holistic view and consider how technology can enhance every aspect of their business, by investing in the right mix of products. By embracing technology solutions and innovative tools, you can be sure you’ll stay ahead of the curve and be well on your way to realising your business potential.
How does it impact the carbon footprint of AEC firms?
Buildings generate nearly 40% annual global CO2 emissions, and this means architects, engineers, and construction firms play a major role in limiting global warming. However, before AEC firms can support the design and construction of eco-friendly buildings, they must hold themselves up as an example.
In 2019, 17 architectural practices in the UK launched the Architects Declare movement. It has since grown global, with hundreds of AEC firms around the world committing to the Built Environment Declares movement.
Five ways to implement sustainable printing practices with office printing
It's time to change our perception of paper and printers, as they are now capable of much more than we expect. Humble printing machines have evolved to become complex, internet-enabled devices that, when used as part of a managed printing solution, can increase workplace efficiency at minimum cost to both wallet and the environment. Established printer providers also provide in-built endpoint security, taking your mind off malware threats as you go about your business.
Here are 5 simple ways to implanting more eco-friendly printing habits in your office.
- Start with procurement
Conduct thorough research on printer vendors to ensure that they have a company-wide policy on sustainability. In the shortlisting process, suss out their supply chains to see if they have an ethically- and environmentally sound business model. Select companies that have a vigorous approach towards sustainability research and development. These will likely have products that are more environmentally friendly.
Two useful research metrics are: the water usage throughout the vendor’s supply chain and overall carbon footprint. More advanced printers are also made from fewer components which simplifies the manufacturing process and reduces the environmental impact during production.
The impact of picking the wrong vendor goes beyond just public embarrassment. With more consumers becoming environmentally-conscious, companies must adapt to the eco trend, or risk losing customers.
- Rethink recycling and energy use
Used printer ink and toner cartridges were once a significant source of plastic waste. In addition to taking up space in landfills, used cartridges were also a cause of pollution as toxic chemicals leached out into the water supply.
But technological advancements have now made it possible for cartridges to be recycled and reused. This eliminates the environmental impact caused by indiscriminate waste dumping while reducing the amount of new plastic being created. Return programs such as HP Planet Partners allow you to schedule pick-ups at no additional cost, and makes recycling so much more convenient.
Also consider using scrap paper as temporary notepads before shredding it or sending it to the recycling bin. Rethinking the lifespan of scrap paper has traditionally been one of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint. You could even go a step further to purchase recycled paper for internal use within the office.
- Reduce wastage: check and re-check again
Complex documents such as building plans consume enormous amounts of paper and ink. Advanced large format printers these days come with an attached touchscreen so you can double check these documents before sending them for printing. Check, re-check and check again to prevent re-printing and in doing so, minimise wastage.
Some printers allow you to scan, share and store digital copies of documents. By digitising paper-based workflows and creating electronic copies, you should be able to see a dramatic reduction in the use of paper.
Smart printing software such as HP Embedded Web Server can provide granular data on a per-page basis for in-depth analysis of where the bulk of the printing costs and wastages lie.
- Regulate with pull printing
Regulate office printing habits by introducing smart print management practices. More advanced multi-function printers with pull printing enabled by additional security software can reduce paper wastage by releasing jobs only upon authentication. Authentication can be conducted in many ways, including with personal identification numbers (PIN). Pull printing ensures that confidential documents will not accidentally end up in the wrong hands and keeps the office environmentally friendly.
Smart printers can also help you to archive digitised plans, copy plans for tender submission, and distribute those plans to different stakeholders. All this will streamline the transition from print to digital and back while decreasing paper waste.
- Recover cash with trade-ins
Besides recycling, some office equipment providers provide trade-in services. Exchange your old printer for cashbacks or discounts that go towards your next purchase rather than simply disposing of it. Be sure to check the website of your print partner for the latest deals, discounts, and cashback policies.
There are many ways businesses can become more environmentally friendly and it starts with more sustainable office printing habits. Printer sustainability may seem like a small step but can make a big difference when you consider the entire supply chain.
Begin the eco-movement in office by educating and involving your colleagues on smarter ways to utilise paper and printers in the office. In addition to doing your bit for the environment, you will be helping your company experience significant cost savings while boosting productivity.
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