If you've always wanted a home office, there's never been a better time to build one - especially for the green at heart. With the surplus of affordable and environmentally-friendly materials now on the market, you can craft the carbon footprint-conscious home office of your dreams.
Consider these four green steps to the ultimate eco-friendly office.
1. Design a green space. The very layout of your home office will affect its energy-efficiency. For instance, to reduce the amount of electricity you use for lighting during the day, design your office to have large windows, preferably facing the direction the sun will occupy most often when using your space. If you're a morning worker, you may want windows looking out to the east. You should also consider windows and doors in positions that will maximize your cross ventilation, giving yourself a natural breeze during the summer that will reduce the need for air conditioning.
2. Get the green materials. Not all building materials or furniture are created equally in the eyes of Mother Nature. Start by choosing non-VOC paint for your walls. This will reduce the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in your walls to zero, improving air quality drastically. While you're at it, rethink your heating system underfoot. Installing radiant heat flooring is an eco-friendly and energy-efficient way to improve air quality and reduce your carbon footprint - and it looks and fits great under engineered hardwood! Remember to seek out sustainable wood whenever you can, for that matter. Check for the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) stamp of approval on lumber and wood furniture. Also consider installing LED light bulbs in lamps and wall or ceiling fixtures. Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are extremely energy-efficient as a lighting source.
3. Find the green appliances. While you'll certainly be able to purchase an impressive laptop or desktop computer with an energy-efficient pedigree, consider a number of other appliances as well. Everything from printers to home stereo speakers can be researched for maximum energy efficiency. Looking for the Energy Star Certified logo is a good way to keep your energy use in check. However, one of the best green initiatives is to recycle your old electronic appliances.
4. Cultivate some green behavior. It's not just about owning the gadgets, you have to use them properly. This means turning off your computer at night and flipping the light switch whenever you leave the room. You can also foster paperless habits and be sure to keep a cardboard and paper recycling bin on hand, rather than just a trash can.