5 Green-Tech Innovations for the Home Office

Image by An-tonio from Flickr[sniplet tweetright]The green movement has really picked up a lot of speed over the past couple of years, and along with the increased attention has come a number of really cool technological innovations for the office. Sure, technology shoulders a lot of the blame for the current ecological situation we face, but in some cases it can also provide a way out too.

In this post we’ve compiled a list of some of the most useful — and eco-friendly — technological innovations for the office. Each of these technologies improves upon older versions in function and eco-friendliness, and in some cases these gadgets provide entirely new ways to save energy. Take a look at the list and see if you might make your workplace a little greener.

1. CFL Bulbs

If you’re still slaving away under the harsh light of an incandescent bulb, then you’ve got to make the switch to fluorescent bulbs. Not only will they save you energy, but they will emit a larger spectrum of light, which is arguably more pleasant and healthier. In terms of impact, these lights are making a huge splash in the home office environment. Now, there are some concerns about mercury content and recycleability — but a number of places now support the recycling of these bulbs, and the mercury content is less than 1/5 of that found in the average watch battery. Overall these have been having a very positive impact.

2. LCD Monitors

The days of energy-sucking behemoth CRT monitors are over (or, at least, they should be soon). Newer LCD monitors are easier on the eyes, up to 80% lighter and smaller, and much more energy efficient than older CRT monitors (usually at least 3 times as efficient). If you or your office haven’t yet made the switch, now is the time. Do be careful of the mercury and toxic substance content in the monitors you purchase, though, as some are definitely better than others.

3. Rechargeable Batteries

Constantly replacing batteries in office equipment like mice and keyboards is infuriating and generates an enormous amount of waste to boot. Rechargeable batteries have come a long way in recent years and can now provide a very convenient alternative to their wasteful brethren. Switching over will generally cost a bit of money to get a charger and your initial set of batteries, but after that you’ll save time, energy, and money as you reuse the same set of batteries month after month.

4. The Paperless Office

Okay, so this isn’t as much a single innovation as it is a collection of different technologies. That said, going paperless is a seriously eco-friendly goal, and a goal that can help your organization and business too. Here are a few parts of the puzzle that might help:

  1. A document scanner.
  2. An electronic fax service. (these are incredibly convenient too)
  3. A good digital filing system.
  4. Off-site backup. (try Mozy)

Combine all of this together and you might find a system that keeps you more organized and saves time too — and the reduction of paper costs and waste is astounding.

5. Smart Power Strips

Vampire appliances, as some people affectionately call them, are very common in an office environment — and they use a lot of energy even if they’re just sitting there. Certain appliances, like printers, can consume 20 watts or more even when in standby mode, and over the course of a year this ‘phantom power’ can add up to quite a bit.

Enter the smart strip, a clever piece of technology that senses when an item is not in use and cuts power automatically — and completely. These strips have been receiving rave reviews and are said to lower power consumption significantly. Here’s a link to one of the popular models on amazon, the Smart Strip LCG5. Check it out and see how good energy savings can look on your power bill :-)

6. Low VOC Materials

Have you ever been in a small room just after it was repainted? Were you overwhelmed by a toxic smelling odor? Well, chances are good that it was indeed toxic.

Many materials, including paints and plastics, emit gases for years after being manufactured. These gasses, called VOCs (volatile organic compounds), are generally toxic when coming from man-made objects. They are also responsible for many health issues plaguing the modern office-dweller.

Thankfully, new manufacturing technology has allowed the development of products that are considered low-VOC, or even no-VOC. These paints, plastics, and other materials not only smell much better, but they are much healthier for you and the environment. Next time you’re repainting something give the low-VOC paints a shot — we redid the ecosimply offices earlier this year with a low-VOC paint and the difference was impressive.

7. Energy Meters (Kill-a-Watt)

A number of companies have started producing in-home energy meters that can be very informative when it comes to diagnosing office energy usage. These small devices basically sit on top of your standard power outlet and give you an instantaneous readout as to how much power you are drawing. Curious as to how much phantom power your printer really sucks? Plug it into one of these bad-boys and find out for certain.


What’s your take?

How have you saved energy and become more eco-friendly in your own office? Do you have personal experience with any of the above technologies?

What do you think will make the biggest impact in the future of the green office? Share your thoughts in the comments.

6 Replies to “5 Green-Tech Innovations for the Home Office”

  1. I believe rechargeable batteries are a life saver! I have a few of them in my house, and I decided to buy an AA recharger. It saved me some money on buying batteries constantly.

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