As an architect or engineer, you have the power to change the overall efficiency and sustainability of a variety of structures. In the United States, and worldwide, buildings are a major source of air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Nationally, buildings account for 49% of sulfur dioxide emissions, 25% of nitrous oxide emissions, and 10% of particulate emissions, as well as 35% of carbon dioxide emissions, the chief pollutant blamed for climate change. There are many things you can do as an architect or engineer to create sustainable, "green" buildings and a variety of resources to help you accomplish greener building.
Tip: Design for dual plumbing to use recycled water for toilet flushing or a gray water system that recovers rainwater or other nonpotable water for site irrigation.
Tip: Use dimensional planning and other material efficiency strategies. For example, design rooms on 4-foot multiples to conform to standard-sized wallboard and plywood sheets.
Tip: Utilize passive design strategies like building orientation, use of shading and natural light to improve building energy efficiency.
Tip: Use recirculating systems for centralized hot water distribution and Install point-of-use hot water heating systems for more distant locations.
Tip: Design landscapes using native plants that require minimal irrigation. Use micro-irrigation for areas needing water.
Tip: Strive for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.
For more tips, check out the Sustainable Building Sourcebook or the Green Building Basics on-line guide. Both offer specific and general recommendations to create more environmentally friendly homes and even commercial developments. Also, learn more from the U.S. Green Building Council.
As an artist/designer you have the ability to influence the world through your art. But you can also make a difference by choosing to create sustainable art with earth-friendly products and processes. The following tips and resources can help your artistic process become "greener.
Tip: Keep your studio green & clean with environmentally safe (biodegradable, phosphate free) cleaners, and later reuse the spray nozzle and buy refills instead of new units.
Tip: Dispose of artist chemicals (turpentine, mineral spirits, varnishes, paint, etc) safely by contacting your local waste management - do NOT dump down the sink or toilet. Read up a bit more on how to recycle / dispose of turps safely.
Tip: Use recycled materials. Anything from newspapers to old laundry detergent bottles can be given new life in your art.
Tip: Design products with minimal waste and with recycling and reuse in mind.
Tip: Use all supplies entirely, or donate any unused supplies and/or materials to a school or other recycling art supply center.
Tip: Clean brushes and other materials within a basin or jar of water rather than running water.
Tip: Educate your clients about the green processes you use and the benefits of them.
Tip: Maintain and repair your equipment to reduce replacement costs and unnecessary waste.
As a chef, you can set an example for every customer by providing delicious meals using sustainable materials and methods.
Tip: Utilize the "nose-to-tail" approach of animals to waste not.
Tip: Serve food that is local, seasonal, and organic to minimize the environmental impact.
Tip: Compost as much of the food waste from the kitchen as possible.
Tip: Serve vegetarian dishes.
Tip: Avoid genetically engineered foods
Tip: Join Chefs Collaborative, a national network of chefs, producers, educators, and food lovers working to build a more sustainable food supply.
Tip: Share information with and educate your customers about your healthy, sustainable, "green choices.
For more inspiration, check out what these 15 Green Chefs are doing.
Tip: Avoid cleaning products with anti-bacterial solutions and fragrances or health warnings on labels as these generally contain unnecessary and harmful chemicals.
Tip: Stock up on baking soda, borax, white vinegar, lemon juice, soap, washing soda, steel wool, mineral oil, cornstarch and isopropyl alcohol. Once you have these at your fingertips you can whip up almost any household cleaner.
Tip: Use low-phosphate or phosphate-free detergents.
Tip: Use water-based products whenever possible.
Tip: Always select less toxic alternatives. Use non-toxic substitutes wherever possible.
Tip: EPIC ( Environmental Products for Important Causes ) has a line of household and janitorial cleaning products that are biodegradable, all natural, and made with renewable raw materials (no petroleum based products).
For more information, check out the Guidance and Training on Greening Your Janitorial Business
As a member of religious leadership, you have tremendous influence. The choices you make about the sermons, service projects, even the management of the institution and building facilities can result in benefits or damages to the environment. With the following tips, you can minimize your environmental impact and encourage the congregation to minimize its impact too.
Tip: Invest in one (or several) of the various resource kit and books available to help your congregation become more environmentally aware.
Tip: Use your sermons to instill the importance of the environment and harmony with the environment. Ideas and examples for sermons are available from the Earth Ministry.
Tip: Organize service projects and other activities that promote sustainable stewardship over the environment.
Tip: Find out if your denomination and/or congregation has become party to a faith-based policy statement on global climate change. If not, adopt a resolution within your congregation.
Tip: Encourage and practice environmentally-friendly landscaping around the church grounds.
Tip: Make sure all church gatherings and events are environmentally friendly.
Tip: Take the time and effort to "green" the church building and operations.
For more tips and information be sure to check out the National Religious Partnership for the Environment and the publications from the Forum on Religion and Ecology.
As a construction contractor, you have responsibility for the means and methods to be used during project construction in accordance with the plans and specifications prepared by a design professional. You have the power to choose the materials, labor, equipment, and services necessary for the construction of the project. By choosing materials and techniques less destructive to the environment, you can help create sustainable building practices.
Tip: Don`t send useable, leftover materials to the landfill. The Sustainable Building Materials Exchange is a free forum in which you can post available materials or requests for materials on a person-to-person basis to reduce waste on projects.
Tip: Choose water conserving toilets, faucets, and showers.
Tip: Utilize pervious concrete or other water-pervious materials such as gravel or open paving blocks for driveways, parking areas, walkways, and patios.
Tip: Encourage workers to carpool or use alternative transportation to get to the job site.
Tip: Use products that have minimal emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). (paints, solvents, glues)
Tip: Utilize clean construction equipment (i.e. newer equipment, equipment retrofitted with verified technology, equipment that runs on cleaner fuels, etc.).
For more information, check out the Green Roundtable for information and resources to assist you in the green construction of new and remodeled buildings.
As a farmer/rancher your practices have the potential to release a number of pollutants, including sediment, nutrients, pathogens, pesticides, and salts, that may degrade the quality of water resources. As a result, the production decisions you make on your farm or ranch are important to ensuring health waterways.
Tip: Use cultivation practices that reduce runoff, such as contour farming, interseeding, growing winter cover crops and using crop residues to protect bare surfaces.
Tip: Avoid tilling, harvesting or grazing when soils are wet and most vulnerable to compaction.
Tip: Reduce soil erosion by using conservation practices and other applicable best management practices.
Tip: Use only the amount of fertilizer required by the crop. Test soils on a regular basis to monitor soil conditions and crop needs, allowing adjustment and reduction of fertilizer use when possible.
Tip: Follow label instructions completely when applying pesticides and herbicides to crops. Product instructions contain important, precise information to help achieve intended results and reduce environmental risks that may result from misuse.
Tip: Recycle or properly dispose of pesticide, herbicide and other chemical containers to reduce the risk of these chemicals polluting waterways, threatening both human health and aquatic environments.
Tip: Where possible, protect or create buffer strips between crops and waterways to stabilize streambanks, provide habitat for wildlife, shade the stream channel, and filter sediment and chemicals from runoff water before it enters waterways.
Tip: Establish native grasses or groundcovers on ditch banks, in ditches or on any areas of bare soil to stabilize the banks and beds of ditches thereby reducing soil erosion and runoff.
Tip: If you are grazing in riparian areas, consider creating riparian pastures to allow you to manage specifically for riparian conditions.
Tip: Consider developing hardened crossings for livestock to either cross or access water in streams to reduce bank sloughing and sediment inputs.
Tip: Consider developing off-stream watering sources for livestock. On a year-around basis, off-stream water will help improve livestock distribution that will reduce pressure on riparian areas.
Tip: Consider developing a Ranch Plan with a water quality emphasis for your own management purposes. The University of California Extension Service has developed a ranch planning process for water quality.
Tip: Consider contacting your local NRCS office to have them help you determine whether or not their new Conservation Reserve Riparian Buffer program can work to your advantage.
Find your local watershed council to get more information and participate in efforts to minimize your impacts on local waterways. And don`t forget you also can also look into organic farming to further reduce your impacts.
Tip: Instead of using toxic pesticides, weed killers, and chemical fertilizers layer on some all-natural compost and beneficial insects.
Tip: Encourage your clients to compost their food waste for use as a natural fertilizer. Explore and educate the benefits of earthworms for faster composting.
Tip: Rather than landscaping with non-native invasive plants for ornamentation, landscape with useful vegetable and fruit plants and trees for a beautiful and useful landscape.
Tip: Always use native and indigenous plants, as they are adapted to local conditions, and therefore easy to grow and maintain, and generally require less fertilizer and water, as well as less effort to rein in pests.
Tip: Install rain barrels as part of the landscape to capture water for watering lawns, yards, and gardens, as well as washing cars or rinsing windows.
Tip: Add mulch and compost to the soil to retain water and cut down evaporation.
Tip: Utilize soaker hoses or drip irrigation instead of standard sprinklers to save water. And make sure the irrigation is directed at the plants, not the sidewalk, driveway or air.
Tip: Use timers to water early and only as long as necessary.
Tip: Boiling water or horticultural vinegar can get rid of the weeds growing through cracks in sidewalks and patios.
Tip: Use a human-powered broom instead of a gas-guzzling, polluting leaf blower.
Tip: Educate your clients about your sustainable, green practices and encourage them to spread the word with others.
Tip: Reuse and recycle! Recycle spent antifreeze, fuel, oil, oil filters, and batteries. Use less toxic propylene glycol antifreeze whenever possible, but check before mixing it with other antifreeze for recycling.
Tip: If you do not currently have recycling at your marina, let the manager know that you and other boaters would support the separate collection of recyclables.
Tip: Tune up your engine. A tuned engine improves fuel economy and burns fuel more efficiently, causing fewer emissions from entering the air and water.
Tip: Keeping your hull clean and free of barnacles, grass and other marine growth will help reduce fuel consumption, and help increase your boats' performance.
Tip: Before entering new waterways, drain all bilge water, live wells, bait buckets and any other water from your boat and equipment to prevent the introduction of exotic species.
Tip: Use a hard (not ablative) anti-fouling paint if you plan on scrubbing the boat bottom while in the water
Tip: Wash your boat often and naturally. Try to wash your deck off regularly with fresh water and natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda to reduce the amount of strong chemical cleaners needed throughout the boating season
Tip: Use environmentally friendly deck and hull cleaners. For example, BC 600 BioCleaner/Degreaser, or Bio Hull which is water based.
Tip: Use environmentally friendly wood finishers and treatments. For example, Clipper Clear Varnish #95.
Tip: Keep garbage from blowing overboard; bring it back to port for proper disposal. If your trash container is in an open area, make sure it has a locking lid to prevent light items from blowing away.
Tip: For septic systems on board a boat, try to be as eco-friendly as possible by using methods that use natural products rather than harmful chemicals. Never discharge sewage - either treated or untreated - into waters; wait to use pump out facilities or dump stations.
Tip: Fill gas tanks only 90 percent full. Gasoline expands when warm and can spill from overflow vents into the water, where it is hazardous to fish and other aquatic life.
Tip: When fueling, catch any overflow with petroleum-absorbent materials (bilge pads and booms), and use oil absorbent materials in your bilge and for spill cleanup.
Tip: Talk to your friends and fellow boaters about the importance of protecting water quality and share these simple, daily techniques to help improve watershed health.
For more information on how and what to use on your boat to make your ride environmentally healthy read Shopping for Safer Boat Care by Neil Smith and Phil Troy. This book is filled with useful tips, as well as the names of all the eco-friendly products one could need. Check out the Boat U.S. Foundation`s "clean routine brochure" for more ideas.
As a professional working in an office setting, you have ample opportunity to ensure office operations are much more environmentally friendly. Incorporate these tips into the daily operations of your office.
Tip: Set computers to energy-saving settings and make sure to shut them down when you leave for the day: "standby" settings will continue to draw power - even when not in use).
Tip: Invest in power strip with an on/off switch (or a smart power strip) to plug all hardware into; the whole desktop setup can be turned off at once (make sure to power down inkjet printers before killing the power?they need to seal their cartridges).
Tip: Printers, scanners, and other peripherals that are only used occasionally can be unplugged until they`re needed.
Tip: Turn off lights in spaces that are unoccupied.
Tip: Keep things digital and dematerialized whenever possible.
Tip: Keep files on computers instead of in file cabinets (this also makes it easier to make offsite backup copies or take them with you when you move to a new office).
Tip: Review documents onscreen rather than printing them out.
Tip: Send e-mails instead of paper letters.
Tip: Preview documents with new software like Greenprint to eliminate blank pages before printing and to convert to PDFs for paperless document sharing.
Tip: When you do use paper, look for recycled paper with a high percentage of post-consumer content and the minimum of chlorine bleaching. Print on both sides of the page when appropriate and use misprints as notepaper.
Tip: If your office ships packages, reuse boxes and use shredded waste paper as packing material.
Tip: To get to work, carpool, take public transit, bike, walk, or a creative combination thereof. If there`s no good way to phase out your car, consider getting a hybrid, electric vehicle, motorcycle, scooter, or using a car sharing service like Flexcar or Zipcar.
Tip: Buy your work clothes from thrift stores or buy new clothes made with organic or recycled fibers. Avoid clothes that need to be dry cleaned, and if they so demand it, seek out your local "green dry cleaner.
Tip: Work from home using Instant messaging, video and phone conferencing, and other innovative workflow tools.
Tip: Use materials made of recycled materials (paper, envelopes, pens, and pencils).
Tip: Buy refillable pens and markers instead of disposable ones.
Tip: Use biodegradable soaps and recycled paper or cloth towels in the bathroom and kitchen, and provide biodegradable cleaners for the custodial staff.
Tip: Buy in bulk so that shipping and packaging waste are reduced, and reuse the shipping boxes.
Tip: Recycle printer cartridges.
Tip: Bringing lunch to work in reusable containers is likely the greenest (and healthiest) way to eat at work. If you do order delivery, join coworkers in placing a large order (more efficient than many separate ones). Also, bring in a reusable plate, utensils, and napkins.
Tip: Share these tips with your colleagues. Ask your boss to purchase carbon offsets for corporate travel by car and plane.
Tip: Ask the office manager to get fair trade coffee for the break room and ask everyone to bring in a mug or glass from home.
Tip: Make sure everyone has a small recycling bin so that recycling is just as easy as throwing paper away.
Tip: Encourage corporate financial investment in green products, companies, and banks.
Tip: Suggest that your company purchase its power from renewable sources (see if your local utility has a green power program).
Tip: Purchase healthy, green office furniture. Herman Miller, Haworth, Knoll, Keilhauer, and Izzydesign all offer Greenguard certified furniture options.
As a teacher not only can you help to reduce the waste within your classroom, but you can also influence and teach your students about environmentally friendly practices. Making environmentally healthy practices a top priority saves money through reduced consumption of goods and energy savings, increases efficiency of operations and use of resources, and educates the next generation on the value of caring for the environment.
Tip: Don't use a screensaver- put your computer in sleep mode, and turn off your monitor when away for extended periods of time.
Tip: Enable power-saving features on your photocopier, fax, scanner, or any other electronic equipment in the classroom or office. Also, if possible, upgrade to equipment with the "Energy Star label.
Tip: Buy recycled paper. Check the label and buy recycled paper with at least 50% "post consumer content (strive for 90-100% post consumer content).
Tip: Buy paper made or bleached without chlorine. The paper your school uses should have either a PCF (processed chlorine free) or TCF (totally chlorine free) label.
Tip: Purchase non-toxic, environmentally friendly supplies.
Tip: Incorporate environmental education into the curriculum.
Tip: Use paper carefully- use both sides when possible, use old paper for scratch or art projects.
Tip: Request that your students send you assignments by e-mail - you won't have to carry around loads of papers AND you`ll save trees. Grade them on the computer and email back with comments- this makes revisions a lot easier for students
Tip: Share important class information via a shared folder or class website rather than making tons of copies of handouts. Save paper, cuts down on students losing important information
Tip: Encourage the use of rechargeable batteries or even solar calculators.
Tip: Consider worm bins for indoor composting as a class project. Properly-managed worm bins are odor free.
Tip: Instead of printing class materials and requiring the purchase of a reader for class readings, establish a class website where readings and other necessary information can be posted and encourage your students not to print the materials.
Tip: "Green" examples can be incorporated into most every topic in interesting ways to further environmental education.
Also, check out the Green Schools Checklist or the Sustainability Policies of the University of California system for more things the school and/or school system as a whole can do to reduce environmental impacts while simultaneously lowering operating costs.
Transportation Professional (Truck, Taxi, Bus, Delivery Drivers, etc.)
We`ve all heard that one of the best things to do for the environment is stop driving. However, as a professional driver (bus, taxi, truck, delivery, etc.), that is likely to be impossible. So, follow these tips to reduce your emissions and the impact of your driving.
Tip: Get your car serviced to minimize emissions and maximize fuel efficiency. Having regular tune-ups, maintenance, and clean air filters will not only prevent car trouble, but also will help you burn less gas and pollute less.
Tip: Check your tire pressure regularly and keep your tires right at the recommended pressure, which represents a good balance between ride, handling, and fuel efficiency.
Tip: Don`t top off your tank. Overfilling your tank can ruin your gasoline-vapor recovery equipment resulting in the release of the vapors into the atmosphere contributing to the formation of ground-level ozone, smog, acid rain, and airborne toxins.
Tip: Dispose of all spent fluids, including brake fluid, motor oil, transmission fluid, antifreeze, and battery acid, properly. Call your local recycling district office to find an authorized drop-off center.
Tip: Driving technique has a lot to do with your fuel economy. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 miles per hour. Avoid sudden starts and stops and go the speed limit. Not only is speeding and herky-jerky driving dangerous, it kills your MPG. Plus, car repairs after an accident aren`t the most environmentally friendly activities!
Tip: Turn off your engine and avoid idling. If you don't, you'll just be wasting gas and polluting the environment. And, modern cars do not need to be warmed up, except in below-zero conditions, you can just start the engine and drive off.
Tip: Look into electric, biodiesel, propane, natural gas, and hybrid vehicles for your company`s fleet.
Tip: Become an advocate for strong fuel-economy standards, better public transit, more bike lanes, better sidewalks, congestion charges, and more car-free areas in your city. Many communities are not designed for life without an automobile, but that can change with some good planning and political will.
As a wedding/event planner you have a chance to make a huge impact on the amount of waste your events produce. Green event planners apply environmentally preferred practices to waste management, resource and energy use, travel and local transportation, facilities selection, siting and construction, food provision and disposal, hotels and accommodations, management and purchasing decisions. Just by incorporating a few environmental tips, you could make a big step towards a cleaner, healthier environment.
Tip: Use recycled paper for invitations. You could even have wild flower seeds imbedded in the paper resulting in your invitation being recycled into a beautiful addition to someone`s garden.
Tip: Establish a website for the event with important information, registration and/or RSVPs to reduce paper waste.
Tip: If you are going to use a caterer, ensure the food is locally grown, organic and sustainable.
Tip: Avoid balloons! Balloons often end up in the marine environment causing serious harm to animals.
Tip: Choose organic fresh flowers--local if possible, or try organicbouquet.com.
Tip: Your choice of venue sets the tone for the event - and accounts for a big chunk of the money you'll be laying out. To minimize impacts consider:
Tip: Use as few disposable items as possible, to avoid adding to landfills. Request that cleanup staff separate recyclables.
For more information and additional resources for green events check out the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Conventions or the Green Event Planning Resources from Ecospeaker. And check the EPA guide, It`s Easy Being Green! This guide even includes a planning checklist for environmental priorities.
The following tips (adapted from the "Monterey Bay Aquarium Policy Statement: Environmentally Sensitive Business Practices") can be applied to most all businesses and professions to minimize resource use and overall environmental impacts.
Reduce, Reuse and RecycleTip: Ask vendors to use less packaging material when they ship to your business.
Tip: All packing material used in the shipments received should be reused, or provided to a vendor who reuses such material.
Tip: Purchase packaging materials that contain at least 50 percent post-consumer recycled materials, and are printed with water- or soy-based inks.
Tip: Utilize recycling bins in office, break and warehouse areas, and support efforts to recycle materials including paper, plastic, glass, metal and other items.
Tip: Use recycled paper in all publications, or paper made from materials other than wood pulp.
Tip: Reduce the use of paper by replacing paper forms with electronic versions, using email rather than paper memos, making double-sided copies and introducing other steps to conserve.
Tip: Reduce the use of paper by replacing paper forms with electronic versions, using email rather than paper memos, making double-sided copies and introducing other steps to conserve.
Rationale: Conservation starts by reducing consumption of new materials; extending the life of materials through reuse; recycling of materials with no further useful life; and purchasing of items made from recycled materials to foster demand for recycled products
Tip: Establish programs to reduce transportation: providing free bus passes to commute to work; offering parking subsidies for carpools and rideshares; charging solo commuters to park onsite; subsidizing an employee vanpool; offering payroll deduction for bicycle purchase.
Rationale: Commuting alone by gasoline-powered automobile uses non-renewable resources, pollutes the air and ocean and contributes to congestion on city streets.
Hazardous Material HandlingTip: Commit to buying and using the least hazardous materials available that will do the job, practice integrated pest management, and use non-toxic or least-toxic materials.
Tip: Comply with all state and federal laws for safe disposal of hazardous materials.
Rationale: It is easier to improve environmental health by keeping toxins out of the system in the first place than to clean up pollution afterward. Establish policies that minimize the use of toxic materials and require proper disposal of those materials we use.
Tip: Commit to purchasing power for a cost-competitive rate from a supplier whose operations have minimal impacts on the environment.
Tip: Conduct energy and water-use audits, and retrofit your fixtures and equipment to reduce consumption both of water and energy.
Rationale: Commit to conserving energy and water by reducing the power you use, and seeking out cost-competitive suppliers who generate energy with the fewest environmental impacts. These activities can result in substantial cost savings, as well as conserving resources.
Tip: Sell no products produced from living creatures if those products send an inappropriate message about the conservation of wildlife and ecosystems. This includes, but is not limited to, shells, coral, dried sea animals, driftwood, wood from threatened ecosystems, and rocks & minerals mined using destructive practices
Tip: Do not do business with vendors that manufacture, distribute or sell such products to other customers.
Rationale: The merchandise you carry and the guidelines you provide to vendors are powerful tools for affecting public perception and changing the buying practices of your suppliers. Use these to promote conservation awareness, and share what you do with colleagues.
Purchasing and Operations PracticesTip: Planning for capital projects should include consideration of conservation impacts and design of conservation features into the projects.
Tip: Analyze the possible purchase of alternative fuel vehicles every time you consider replacing or adding to the business fleet.
Tip: Serve organic food products when they are cost-competitive with conventionally grown foods. To help drive the market, ask your food suppliers to actively seek out additional organic produce for purchase at cost-competitive prices.
Tip: Provide staff with purchasing authority information about sources for recycled office supplies, and order only products with recycled content for communal office supply stocks.
Tip: Encourage employees to find new and better products, or operating procedures that will conserve resources more effectively. Consistently reward conservation-minded behavior through an employee recognition program.
Rationale: Business operations and buying decisions can have a positive environmental impact; can change public perception; and can help create markets for environmentally benign products and services.