This is a divergence from the normal focus of the site.  But in a broader sense, this is about insuring our future.

In conjunction with blog action day, an annual event where bloggers from around the world focus on one particular topic to change the conversation on the web to a specific topic.  This years topic, Climate Change.

Living in the Chicago-land area, it is easy to take for granted the steps government and businesses have taken to improve environmental quality.  The city has promoted this through a focus on environmentally friendly buildings with green roof tops, wind turbines (we are known as the windy city), recycling programs, an excellent mass transit system, and an overall focus on what we as individuals and companies can do to reduce our carbon footprint.

Did you know that buildings typically contribute 40% of a country’s total CO2 emissions?  This was a surprising figure to me, but when you factor in the heating, cooling, lighting, energy use for office equipment, servers, elevators, etc. it really does make sense.  In light of this, many companies are looking to reduce energy consumption by 20% over the next 5 years.  

The road to reduction takes many paths, including constructing, converting or relocating to green buildings.  According to the National Real Estate and Hotel Practice Group of the Willis Group, approximately 700 buildings have achieved green building certification with 5000 more waiting for certification. 

John Schinter, President Energy and Sustainability Services for Jones Lang LaSalle  indicated that interest in sustainable buildings from their corporate client base is doubling every year.  In many cases this is driven by the desire to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gases.

One of the interesting benefits from the move to “green buildings” is that studies have shown a reduction in absenteeism and in increase in productivity among people who work in environmentally improved buildings.

So what can you do to help reduce both your and your company’s carbon footprint?  The key idea is to be more aware of how you use and potentially waste energy. 

  • Add environmental impact into the mix during the decision making process
  • Turn off your task in the office when you leave for lunch and at the end of the day
  • Instead of using the car, walk to appointments or complete errands, or combine errands into one trip
  • If you don’t have a recycling program at work, start one, it reduces waste and makes everyone feel better
  • Telecommute, car pool or use public transportation
  • In the winter, turn down the thermostat, sweaters are a great way of keeping warm without warming the air around you
  • In the summer, turn the thermostat up and use a fan to circulate air (just be sure to turn the fan off when not in the room).
  • Recycle the coffee grounds from the office into your garden, it keeps it out of the landfill and makes the veggies happy
  • Turn off the computer when not in use
  • Plant a tree, grow a garden, plant flowers in pots or in the yard
  • Don’t print the e-mail, blog posting or other information, keep it on file in your computer
  • Use your own coffee cup, it helps individualize you and reduces energy used in making throw away cups
  • Recycle, Recycle, Recycle.

For more suggestions on saving energy, visit the US Department of Energy Energy Saving Tips site.   Thanks for taking part in helping improve our environment and reduce greenhouse gases.