Benefits of becoming a “green office” for NGOs

 The “green office” :

In our present era environment plays a significant role in maintaining the homeostasis. However, growing issues with environment concerning pollution are increasingly evident. In this regard, science developed different kinds of approaches and solutions to improve the situation on environmental problems. One of those approaches is the introduction of the concept “green office”.
The expression “green office” refers to the practices and mentality at a given workplace that can help reducing the negative impact of offices’ activities on the environment. It includes a structure that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient. Green offices are designed to be energy efficient and often incorporate recycled content. The main goal is to increase awareness, to protect and create a healthy environment, conserve energy and to reduce pollution. In applying green office practices a company and its workplace get evidently sustainable in the long run.


How can small organisations like CED (NGO) become a “green office”?

There are several ways for an NGO to become a “green office”. First of all there are a few easy tips and practices that every office can implement as first steps in order to become a green office:
•    Using recycled paper.
•    Printing double-sided.
•    Reusing and recycling the materials used at the workplace such as office and kitchen (folders, padded envelopes etc.).
•    No usage of individually packaged sugar and cream in the kitchen.
•    Equipment and appliances are set to power-saving mode.
•    Turning off computers and other office equipment when they are not being used.
•    Waste recycling by separating waste in recyclable waste.
•    Sharing rides to the workplace or using public transportation.
•    Turning off lights and electricity when not needed.
•    Buying and using energy-efficient equipment, such as energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.
•    Using blinds (especially during the night) and a fan rather then air conditioning  (fans use 98% less energy than air conditioners).

General benefits of becoming  “green office”

Although it is evident that the approach of “green office” is beneficial for our environment, one could raise the question how an office can benefit from implementing the “green office” approach. In tis regard, there are several good reasons to become a green office. In general terms, buying and using energy efficient equipment has the potential to safe funds of a given company, through saving electricity and printing double-sided for example. Using energy-efficient equipment does not only saves money but also has tremendous environmental benefits. For instance, the reduction of electricity use leads to a reduction of overall air and water pollution from power stations. For each 1,000 kilowatt-hour of electricity you save, you simultaneously save a tone of greenhouse gas, which causes the greenhouse effect. Moreover, making the workplace a “green office” involves awareness raising and active commitment by the staff, which enhances the motivation and productivity of the office staff.

Useful links regarding how to become a green office and the benefits of green offices:
•    http://greenoffice.cenn.org
•    http://www.environment.gov.au/archive/settlements/publications/government/purchasing/green-office-guide/pubs/green-office-guide.pdf
•    http://www.ehow.com/facts_7944028_definition-green-office.html
•    http://www.solarpowernotes.com/what-is-green-office.html#.U60jeo1_v6l

However, the practices and benefits listed above are only one part of becoming a green office. One other essential part of going green regards more specifically the IT sector of an office. In order to be more energy efficient and “green” in the IT sector, the common practise is the introduction and usage of cloud computing, which means the introduction of web-based programs that run IT services online. The most common provider of this service is Google.

The Google cloud


The Google cloud entails the service of Google Apps, which is a web-based program and storage. In making use of the Google cloud users outsource their hardware and applications using those apps in the cloud. In this sense, users do not have to purchase and install software such as Microsoft Office to run them on their own hardware but they can simply use the web-based program of Google.Users register for a Google account to make use of the programs and apps provided in the Goggle cloud (e.g., Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, Google Docs, etc.).

These Google Apps are free for the purpose of education and for qualified non-profit organizations. Non-profits have the opportunity to create their individualized domain name for their Google account to reflect their brand identity. Additionally, Organisations are given the possibility to create customized email addresses: name.surname@companyname.com.
However, this offer for free usage of non-profits is limited to the United Nations, England and Wales. Thus,local NGOs have to purchase the Google Apps for business, which costs US$5 per user account per month (for the first month a business can get a free trail version). Although, local NGOs would have to buy the Google services, in the long run the benefits outreach the costs for purchasing.

For more detail information on how Google Apps work watch the video provided in this link:
•    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doHnLiAzQ5M

The benefits of the Google cloud


The usage of cloud based computing can reduce IT capital costs, reduce labour costs, and enhance productivity. In that sense,making use of cloud based computing demonstrates to be highly efficient. In addition, transferring basic IT applications to Google Apps substantially reduces carbon emissions and energy consumption, which has positive effects on the environment. In addition, the usage of the Google cloud enhances the overall productivity of an office due to its wide-range accessibility (the cloud is accessible form any device with internet connection).

How exactly is the cloud more energy efficient? Firstly, the usage of the Google cloud reduces direct energy for servers by 70% to 90%. This is due to the fact that operations require fewer servers. Secondly, the usage of the Google cloud reduces the energy usage for server cooling by 70-90%. Through innovative technologies the Google data centres only need 0.13 watts of cooling for each watt of direct power.  In this context, Google presents a case study on the savings achieved by the U.S General Services Administration (GSA), a Google Apps client. Through the shift to Google Apps, the GSA was able to decrease server energy consumption by up to 90% and thus, carbon emission by 85%. When translating the reduction of energy useinto cost savings then the GSA was able save $285,000 per year.

In general, Google states that such savings tend to be higher for smaller companies with very low server utilization rates. In this sense, the Google cloud is very useful for small NGOs that cannot afford a large amount of hardware because of its high costs for purchasing and maintenance.Additionally, Google suggests that energy savings are also to be enhanced by not only applying Google Apps in software but also by introducing and establishing energy power efficient devices, such as Chrome books.

In conclusion the usage of the Google cloud holds a variety of benefits for local NGOs:
•    It reduces IT capital costs since no hardware has to be purchased as it gets outsourced.
•    Not having an own hardware enhances energy efficiency and reduces electricity costs.
•    There is no need of an own IT department, which reduces labour costs and enhances economics of scale.
•    Productivity of the office is increased due to wide-range accessibility of the Google cloud from different devices.
•    Google Hangouts make video conferencing possible, which saves time and funds as one has not to be physically in a meeting room. Conferences can also be recorded and shared via YouTube for those, who were unable to attend.
•    Collaboration with colleagues, who are working nationally or globally on NGO projects is made easier.
•    Co-ordination of events and activities across different locations and with different partners is made easy though the Google Calendar, which is a shared real time diary uploaded to the web. It also provides reminders to any device.

For more detailed information on the study view the document provided in this link:
•    http://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com.vn/en/vn/green/pdf/google-apps.pdf
For more general information on cloud computing view the information provided in this link:
•    https://developers.google.com/appengine/training/intro/whatiscc

By Zee





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