Dorothy Secol, CLA
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More and more small business owners are discovering that environmentally responsible practices not only help the planet but boost their bottom line as well.

An April, 2007 Gallup study found that nearly half, 47%, of the roughly 600 businesses surveyed said they were taking steps to become more environmentally responsible and that they were taking steps to become even more environmentally responsible. Employees also welcome an environmentally friendly workplace. One-third of American workers said they would be more inclined to work for a green company, according to a March, 2007 Harris poll.

So – how do you go about “going green?” Well, for starters, those of you who own your office buildings can opt for solar panels. Most states have grants to be used to purchase solar panels. In 2007 nearly 30 states had publicly-funded alternative energy programs. Additionally, private, sustainable business organization have sprung up in many states allowing green business owners the opportunity to network and share ideas.

A majority of attorneys tend not to own their space which makes it almost impossible to undertake major infrastructure improvements, however it is important for all of us to realize that greening a company is rarely about doing just one thing – it’s usually about doing dozens of little things.

Another consideration is that offices that focus upon the broad societal benefits of going green are only getting it half right. To really see results, you must also emphasize the positive impacts your efforts will have on your bottom line. Going green will save you money in the long run.

Here are some suggestions with regard to greening the office that tenants as well as owners can implement:

1. Install programmable “smart” thermostats that allow you to set your office temperature to 75º for off hours and weekends during the summer and 65º in the winter – Cost $50-150 (one time).

2. For the server room, always keep the door shut and set thermostat several degrees higher during low-demand times like overnights and weekends. Cost free.

3. Ensure your HVAC systems are well maintained and all air filters are changed regularly. Cost regular maintenance.

4. Install motion-detecting light switches in conference rooms, closets and bathrooms. Cost $20-50/switch.

5. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent ones. Cost $5.00 per bulb. Note: Replacing a single incandescent lightbulb with a compact fluorescent one reduces by more than 1,000 lbs, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the air, and saves you an average of $67.00 over the life of the bulb. That’s only one bulb – think of all you could replace in your office.

6. Hang blinds or shades over windows. Cost $50-250 per window.

7. Insulate, caulk and weather-strip around window edges. Cost $5.00-$50/window one time.

8. Install low-emissivity coating, double-pane windows, Cost $20-$40/sq. ft./window.

9. Stock your office kitchen with coffee mugs, silverware and real plates instead of disposable plastic and paper products. Cost - $5.00 per employee, one-time.

10. Install motion-detecting low-flow faucets in kitchens and bathrooms. Cost - $50-$150 per fault, one-time.

11. Install low-flow toilets in bathrooms. Cost $100-$200 per toilet, one-time.

Next month I will give you tips on saving money and the environment in purchasing and usage of your office products. I will also give you resources for recycling and where to find green products and green business service information.

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