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Think green at your workplace

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in Office Management,Office Organizer

In the aftermath of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and the higher profile of environmental issues in this year's presidential race, managers are increasingly playing a role in conserving natural resources. You can enhance your leadership by raising awareness and taking steps to go green.

One worker can use a quarter ton of materials in a year, including 10,000 pieces of copier paper, according to Time magazine. Heating, cooling and powering office space eats up nearly 40 percent of America's carbon dioxide emissions and more than 70 percent of total electricity usage.

And idle office computers suck $1 billion worth of electricity annually. Some companies take environmental stewardship seriously by trying to reduce their carbon footprint. Consider Costco, the big retailer based in Issaquah, Wash. It has married its longstanding culture of cost containment with a commitment to fight global warming. Examples include displaying modest signage (thus saving electricity on excess lighting) and not providing shopping bags (to reduce paper and plastic consumption).

If your organization's culture isn't particularly green, help push it in that direction. Challenge your employees to save energy. Shut down your computer if you don't need it for 24 or more hours. Replace separate printers, scanners and photocopiers with all-in-one machines. Return used printer cartridges to the manufacturer for recycling--or contact your municipality to learn how you can recycle--so that you dispose of equipment responsibly. Most workers don't give much thought to their employer's electricity costs because they never see the bill. You can fix that by applying open-book management principles to workplace power consumption. Update everyone on your unit's monthly electricity usage.

Ask your utility firm to provide year-over-year comparisons so that your team can translate its energy-saving efforts into bottom-line results.

If your employees operate from far-flung locations, encourage them to develop green work habits such as recycling or reusing shipping materials and turning off desk lamps and other office lights.

Promoting conservation puts you ahead of a trend that will only intensify.

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