Living the Dream

I looked around this week and noticed something about my little office.  Little by little through the years, all of the little things I have done have built up to something bigger.  For the first time in many years, I am working in a Green Office.  This is something that was never achieved when I worked for other people, but easy to do working on my own.

Here are the little things that have added up to making my home office green:

  • Daylighted office-this is a welcome thing. No overhead lights or desk lights except when I work into the evening hours and even then the light from my computer screen does OK some of that time.
  • LED lights (for when I do work late).
  • Low low C02 footprint (working from home compared to 10 hours a week of LA traffic)
  • Low flush toilet (oddly enough-none of the MEP firms I have worked for over the past 29 years had this even though conventional toilets can be converted simply for less that $25 and the installed flushing devices leak less and need less repairs than the cheap flushing assemblies)
  • 100% recycled paper (all of my internal notes and sketches are done on the backs of printed pages)
  • Experience with public transit (the more familiar I am with Metro train lines and local bus lines, the easier it is to choose public transit for business trips-and it has taken years of “practice”  to develop enough familiarity and confidence with public transit to consider using it for business trips.
  • 100% control of outdoor air ventilation.   I am able to enjoy fresh air directly into my office at least half of the time throughout the year.  Oddly enough two of the MEP firms I worked for before actually had NO outside air ventilation and four of them only received ventilation air when the air conditioner cycled on (not only is this unhealthy but it ironically is a code violation as well).
  • My office is cleaned only with simple bio-degradable natural type cleaning detergents/soaps.  As a cancer victim, I really appreciate the lack of chemical smells that commercial cleaners leave in the air.
  • I am able to easily dump the rinse water from my coffee cup and morning smoothie onto dry spots in the landscape to help keep my landscape an even green.
  • I have added wild flowers and mulch to the landscape areas around my office.
  • I have a small garden at my office to give me excuses to get outside and stretch during the day while I decide what greens and herbs I want to harvest for lunch.  This makes my work day more relaxed and enjoyable.
  • Office paper compost – a certain amount of office waste (envelopes and plain paper) go into my worm compost (which doesn’t smell and provides natural fertilizer for the landscape and garden around my office.
  • Reduction of office paper-almost all of my project related documents are digital now and by using an outside printing services I only create paper blueprints when I really need them).  I use my cell phone for notes and lists. I photograph papers and email the files instead of printing etc).
  • closing up holes in ceilings/windows/doors.
  • whole house fan for passive cooling
  • evaporative cooling for hot dry days
  • weekly recycling of cardboard, paper, plastics, metal

Making all these changes at once would be a big jump but a little here and there really does add up through the years.  I look forward to finding new ways to continue this trend in the coming years and invite readers to share their successful actions and ideas.

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