On Environmental Offices
This CB Marine Design LLC monthly white paper details a different take on how to create an evironmentally friendly office concept.
We create efficient designs, why don’t we work in environmentally friendly offices?
As engineers, we always look for ways to improve on our designs. The first improvement in design usually occurs when we can design a more efficient solution to the given problem. Engineers really are on the forefront of the “green movement”. We design our hulls to move through the water with less drag. We design our engines to create more horsepower with less fuel. We design waste heat recovery systems to further optimize the heat given off by that fuel. We are constantly looking at improving design to improve efficiency.
This thought process does not necessarily translate into our business operation. Many of us run our business operations with little or no thought given to how our day to day workings can affect the world we live in. Why don’t we try to improve the efficiency of our work environment as well.
Reduce (Don’t Need Reuse and Recycle)
Paper is the most obvious answer. Our lives run off of paper. In fact, I have even heard engineers describe their job as “creating paper”. All of our work is delivered on paper: drawings, reports, calculations. We create all of these documents on the computer, but then we revert back to “old school” methods of having to deliver everything on paper.
If we create everything on the computer, why not read and review everything on the computer? All of the software that we use to create every document has a corresponding method of reviewing the document. Word has comment bubbles that you can use to edit. AutoCAD has Design Review software allowing the user to add comments to drawings. Even Adobe has editing tools built into its pdf software. With all of these tools available, it makes printing out a document for review seem antiquated and wasteful. I understand that some people really enjoy the look and feel of paper vs. the screen. I used to feel the same way. But now after two years of reading my books and magazines and newspapers on my Kindle and IPhone, I really couldn’t imagine going back to paper copies for reading.
CB Marine Design LLC uses an all electronic review cycle. We do this mostly because we are not collocated in one single office, but are spread out in many different places. The use of electronic review is a no brainer for us because of our early decision to not have a traditional office.
Reduce the Crowds
Most large companies and government entities are located in large cities for very obvious reasons, the availability of a large workforce being prime among them. The major drawback of a large workforce is traffic and congestion. Many hours of productivity are lost, and many tons of greenhouse gasses are added to the atmosphere each week because of employees sitting in traffic on their way to and from work. At CB Marine Design, we have tried to get away from this culture. We promote working from home.
This simple change has a great affect on a number of things. Moral is very high, because you don’t have to grind through the morning commute prior to starting the work day. You don’t have to wake up at an incredible hour of the morning in order to avoid the traffic. And you are free to work on your schedule. We have found that it is much more productive than the tried and true office setting. We still have plenty of collaboration, we just do it remotely via our FTP site rather than at an office site.
Reduce the Office
Our FTP site allows us the ability to work together on the same project and share files and ideas remotely. This furthers our no office lifestyle as we are able to connect to “the office” from anywhere is the world. This is a very useful tool, but it can be a huge drain on the electrical grid. We have worked around this by using a hosting company that supplies “130%” of their electricity consumption by wind power. This means that all of our electronic files are stored in a facility that has a net positive electricity contribution to the grid. It costs a small amount more, but the end result is a better planet for all of us.
Another step that we have taken in our effort to reduce our footprint is to deliver our drawings via our FTP. All of our files live on our website in password protected portals. They are available for download 24/7/365 and live on the site forever. This allows us to easily deliver entire projects without having to print off many hundreds (or in some cases thousands) of pages of paper. The customer has access to the document and can review it directly on the screen. We deliver everything in pdf format which opens up right in the website, with native documents (.doc, .dwg, etc) available for download.
You Hold the Key
At CB Marine Design, we are committed to not only finding the most efficient design solutions for our customers, but we are also committed to ensuring that we are doing our part to make sure that we are creating an efficient office solution to minimize waste and minimize the energy required to run our company. What can you do to make your company run more efficiently?