Top 10 Green Tips

As part of our internal sustainability initiative, WA has a group dedicated to ‘greening’ our office culture, procedures and protocols. As part of my role, I send out weekly email ‘Green Tips’. Building awareness and environmental consciousness is one way WA is making change possible. If these tips make one person stop and think, I consider this initiative a success. Here are the most useful, interesting, and surprising tips and topics that were shared with the office in 2014.

  1. An estimated 147 million gallons of gasoline evaporates into the atmosphere in the U.S. every year because of loose, damaged or missing caps on vehicle fuel tanks. Keep gas in your tank by checking the cap occasionally for cracks. In older vehicles, you can prevent evaporation by making sure the cap is tightly secured. For most newer vehicles, turn the cap until you hear it click three times. That will not only keep gas where it belongs but will also help avoid the dreaded “check engine” warning light that appears when your vehicle’s emission sensors detect a leak. (Scientific American)
  2. Studies at have found that vampire energy loads account for 5-10% of the total electricity in residential homes and accounts for about 1% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.  Take these actions to avoid paying for those ‘vampire energy drainers’: Unplug electronics, charger, and appliances when not in use; Set electronics to energy save mode; turn your monitor off when you step out; Use a power strip to turn all devices off at once – flipping the switch on your power strip has the same effect as unplugging each socket from the wall, preventing phantom energy loss. (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory/Harvard University Office of Sustainability)
  3. Make your home an Energy Star! When you do home maintenance, also do a home energy audit to find out how you can save money by making your home more energy efficient. The EPA estimates that if every American home replaced just one conventional light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes a year. (Environmental Protection Agency)
  4. Use energy-efficient appliances. If you replaced your existing refrigerator with a high-efficiency model, you’d reduce your C02 emissions by 220 pounds a year!  Energy-efficient appliances are now available for microwave ovens, stoves, dishwashers and computers, as well.  (Earthshare.org)
  5. Buying food and other products in reusable or recyclable packing can reduce C02 emissions by 230 pounds a year, while recycling all of your home’s waste newsprint, cardboard, glass and metal can reduce emissions an additional 850 pounds a year. (Earthshare.org)
  6. Except for refrigerators, the biggest energy hogs in most households are washing machines and clothes dryers. The good news is that it’s easy to dramatically reduce the energy these appliances use. By washing all clothes in cold water, you can reduce consumption by as much as 90 percent. What’s more, by drying laundry on a clothesline or rack you can save $75 and 700 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year! (Scientific American)
  7. Did you know the average shower in America is eight minutes long? The EPA estimates that the standard shower heads use approximately 2.5 gallons of water per minute. That’s 20 gallons of water for the average shower! Shaving just three minutes off your shower will help reduce your water footprint, an annual savings of approximately 4,562 gallons. Try putting a timer near your shower so you can see how fast you are. Using less water will not only lower your energy costs and conserve water, but will keep that water in the environment for natural geological and ecological cycles. (Harvard Office of Sustainability Environmental Protection Agency)
  8. The average American lawn can use as much as 20,000 gallons of water a year, and up to 50% of that water is wasted due to inefficient watering methods. One solution is to conserve water by using barrels to collect rain water and using it to water plants. Check hoses for leaks before watering plants, and position sprinklers so they water only plants, not the sidewalk. (Environmental Protection Agency)
  9. Over the past 18 months, an analysis of WA office operations reports that the average WA employee office carbon footprint = 4 tons per year, well below the average American carbon footprint of 20 tons per year.  Many employees choose to ‘green’ their commute by walking, biking, car pooling or using mass transit.  By leaving the car at home just two days a week, each person reduces C02 emissions by 1,600 pounds a year! (Wilson Architects/Earthshare.org)
  10. According to a two-year study by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), many indoor plants absorb harmful air pollutants through their leaves and roots and convert them into breathable air. Consider greening your home and work-space by following this simple ratio: one plant can provide effective cleaning for every 100 square feet of space. For an average 1,800 square foot home, between 15-20 golden pothos and spider plants can refresh all of the air. Need even more reasons? Within 24 hours, some plants can remove up to 87 percent of toxic indoor air, an important fact given that Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors. Plants have also been proven to foster a more productive, less stressful workspace, and employees who worked in offices with live plants rated an overall higher job satisfaction. (Harvard Office of Sustainability/Earthshare.org)

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