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Responsible Consumption
Go Green/Users/adamp/Desktop/Stuff for FAR/Magazine Assets/NOV08/images/Go-Green

Want to do your part to save the environment? Here are some tips.

Florida real estate professionals like Peter Crowley recognize that going green makes sense from both a business and an environmental standpoint. “We’ve made a company commitment to green practices in our 10 offices,” says Crowley, president of RE/MAX Alliance Group in Sarasota, “and our associates are already finding it benefits their businesses.” In fact, many green practices can reduce office costs while contributing to the health of the planet. Here are five suggestions for greening your office:

1. Go paperless.
Why print out memos, fliers or market updates and leave them on associates’ desks, when you can e-mail the files instead? “It took us three years, but as of early 2008, we are now a paperless office,” says Lesley E. Dolby, broker of Dolby Properties Inc. in Orlando. “Neither the agents nor the office staff print out e-mails, as we all save every document to our computers with external backups.” Another tip: instead of traditional fax, use e-faxes in PDF format (such as myfax.com and efax.com), saving on paper, ink and dedicated phone line charges.

2. Improve energy efficiency.
Raise the office thermostat by one or two degrees. Replace older windows and caulk any holes or cracks in exterior walls. Buy long-lasting florescent bulbs. These are among the ways you can reduce power consumption and cut your office utility bills.

3. Reuse rather than toss.
Switch from disposable to glass coffee mugs in the break room. Then, install a five-gallon water cooler with the hopes that fewer people will bring in individual water bottles.

4. Recycle, recycle and recycle.
Cell phone batteries, copy paper, newspapers, cans and bottles can all be recycled rather than tossed into the trash. Check with your local trash service to see what options are available. And think creatively: “We collect used ink cartridges for recycling through the SPCA [Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals],” says Peggy Cavanaugh, broker-owner of Premier Properties of Brevard Inc. in Melbourne Beach. “We’ve been designated as the drop-off point for anyone in the area who wants to recycle ink cartridges and benefit the SPCA.”

5. Use green cleaning products.
Insist on environmentally friendly cleaning products and practices for your office. Avoid floor and carpet cleaners that can leave potentially dangerous volatile organic chemicals behind. Naturally formulated cleaners are better for the environment and for your team.

Richard Westlund is a Miami-based freelance writer.