Despite troubled economic times, more businesses are willing to invest in green technology. Some take giant leaps and modify the entire office infrastructure. Others are doing it one step at a time.
Whether hidden in the tranquil parts of Buda, standing proudly along the Danube or merged into the busy environment of Pest, there are three million square meters of modern office space in Budapest available to businesses. Varying in size, location and modernity, an increasing number of offices are striving to be more environmentally friendly. New buildings are now designed to be green from the moment of construction, while the owners of older ones are making efforts to modify their existing practices.
One of the most direct ways of limiting a building’s environmental footprint is through a reduction in energy consumption. However, with modern offices heavily dependent on technologies such as computers, printers, faxes and other electrical equipment, this is easier said than done. Yet businesses no longer limit environmentally conscious solutions to switching off lights or taking the stairs.
For example, in order to cut electricity consumption, the RiverPark office building uses T5 fluorescent lamps as well as motion-controlled lighting in common areas. Fluorescent lamps are known for their much higher light efficiency than incandescent bulbs. Unfortunately, they are quite costly to install since they require a ballast – a device that limits the amount of current in an electric circuit.
In terms of reducing gas energy consumption, OTP Bank could be used as an example. Through the installation of solar panels it has been saving much gas energy over the last few years. The practice is costly in the short-run, but pays off in the longer-term.
Since the complete green transformation of operations is expensive, especially in older buildings, most opt to take smaller steps, for example by replacing inkjet printers with laser units, which are not only more efficient but are also kinder on the environment. Inkjet-printed paper is practically impossible to recycle, while most such printers also release volatile organic carbons harmful to the environment.
Today the range of green office supplies on the market is endless and includes everything from desk accessories to networking equipment. Going green does not only mean reducing the amount of waste or energy consumption in the office, it also encompasses purchasing products that were produced in an environmentally friendly manner. Business cards, envelopes, planners, calendars and writing pads can all be found now made of recycled paper. Furniture can be produced using certified wood, meaning the timber comes from sustainably harvested forests. Many companies now produce desks, chairs or bookshelves from reclaimed, or recycled, wood. Much furniture is made from plastic, which in itself is not sustainable, since this material is made from petroleum. However, eco-friendly options may still include plastic and aluminum, with the important thing being that individual parts can easily be replaced (and the broken bits recycled) if repairs are required.
Green IT is an increasingly popular practice in Hungary. It refers to a system by which computers, printers and other devices and parts are disposed of without harming the environment. Considering that 20 to 50 million tons of electronic waste is discarded globally every year, based on Greenpeace calculations, a growing number of businesses and non-profit organizations are now offering their services in this field. For example, Sims Recycling Solutions offers Hungary’s businesses recycling of such office technologies as copiers, fax machines, printers and toners. The importance of proper disposal of electronics cannot be underestimated. Computer monitors contain significant amounts of lead, hazardous both to the wider environment and to people. Many batteries also contain lead, as well as mercury and cadmium.
Another relatively easy step a company can take is to replace desktop computers with laptops. Findings show that using a laptop can save up to 50% in energy over a desktop, in annual terms. Another option is to replace old cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors with liquid crystal display (LCD) screens. A 14-inch LCD monitor uses up to 75% less energy than a 14-inch CRT monitor.
Many businesses also eliminate regular written correspondence with customers by introducing online services, while digital storage of documents is another common practice these days, combined with duplex printing and online faxing. Although still behind their Western counterparts, Hungarian businesses are becoming more environmentally conscious by the day.