How to Make Your Law Firm More Eco-Friendly
Your law firm does a lot of good for people. You want to do at least that much good for the environment.
You’re not alone–the Law Firm Sustainability Network is bringing together law firms that want to make an ecological difference.
The thing is, you may not know how sustainable your firm actually is, or where to even begin.
Here, we’re covering some of the best ways to be more sustainable that you can implement in your office today.
First things first: it’s time to cut back on your paper usage. Less paper means less dead trees.
And let’s be honest, law firms go through a lot of paper. You’ve got contracts, case files, court filings, last wills and testaments, land deeds, business agreements, pleadings, affidavits, and promissory notes, just to name a few. Never mind your backlog of old client records and administrative paperwork.
The easiest way to reduce your paper is to stop printing out paperwork you aren’t legally required to provide as a hard copy. Instead, email your clients a permanent link to legal documents stored in your database. If you use legal document automation software, this makes your life even easier.
Know Your Biggest Energy Costs
Another way to green your firm is to know what your biggest annual energy expenditures are so you know where to focus your attention.
The Department of Energy identified lighting, heating, and cooling as the biggest energy drains in commercial real estate spaces. In fact, lighting took up a full 25.5% of commercial energy usage, more than any other individual category.
Thankfully, there are a number of ways you can cut down these costs. One of the most obvious is turning off lights when you’re not in a room and turn off all the lights overnight, just like at home.
Another easy fix is to replace your standard incandescent bulbs with LEDs or compact fluorescent lamps. Better yet, make use of natural light. You can even maximize your light in subtle ways by painting your office lighter colors with high-gloss sheens, which are better at reflecting light.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce, reuse, recycle is a standard mantra for a reason: as green advice goes, it’s still some of the best advice you can get.
One of the obvious ways to do this is to make use of recycling bins, both in main office spaces and at employees individual desks. You should also take the time to educate your staff on proper recycling practices.
But it also applies to lunch–encourage your staff to use real plates, mugs, cups, and utensils instead of disposables. It takes two seconds to wash a mug, and it’s better for the environment.
Even your cuppa joe can be sustainable with coffee filters made of recycled paper, or, better yet, a coffee machine that doesn’t require filters (or K-cups).
Promote Sustainable Food
On that note, you can go above and beyond by encouraging your staff to practice sustainable eating, whether they’re meeting a client for lunch or grabbing a sandwich before their next meeting.
You know that buying local and eating less meat are good ways to reduce your carbon footprint. But imagine the impact you could have if your whole firm got in on the effort.
A good way to do this is to make Meatless Mondays a firm-wide standard. You can also promote a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, which gives employees the freshest produce, dairy, and eggs straight from a local farm.
You can even turn it into a monthly contest to see who can come up with the best meatless or locally-sourced recipe.
Incentivize Lower Vehicle Use
Did you know a single employee can reduce CO2 emissions by 20 pounds per day by switching to public transportation? For context, that’s 4,800 pounds per year for just one employee.
You can incentivize workers to take public transportation by offering rail or bus passes as part of your employee benefits. You can also encourage employees who live nearby to walk or bike to work or give employees a remote workday on Fridays.
After all, who doesn’t like working from their couch once a week?
All of these changes can make a big difference. But if you really want to dig into making your firm more sustainable, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get your office renovated.
This isn’t just for looks. Windows can provide more natural light (which translates to less electricity usage) but they can also be a major energy leak, so you want to make sure they’re reinforced.
You also want renovations to rework your water system so that you can directly incorporate water recycling systems and energy-efficient features.
Even your flooring and insulation can make a difference because they affect how your office retains heat.
One of the Best Ways to Be More Sustainable
Of course, all of these ways to be more sustainable won’t do much for your firm’s carbon footprint if you don’t implement them.
It starts with the basics. Like, say, your legal documents.
Using document automation system isn’t just good for the environment–it’s good for your productivity. HotDocs software can cut down on 70% of drafting time, reduce errors, and help you deliver the quality results your clients expect.
Basically, we’re here to help you do what you do best, but with more efficiency so that your firm has time to get things done and you have a little more time to go home to your family.
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