Sustainable Business Practices

Most of the following actions were selected by the City of Portland’s Sustainability at Work program as starting points for a small office working to make its operations greener.

Materials and Waste

  • Purchase recycling bins and set up an efficient recycling area in your office.
  • Set all computers, copiers, and printers to print double-sided by default.
  • Use a system of collecting one-sided copies and use the blank side for scratch paper or in a designated draft printer.
  • Three major office supplies (including copy/printer paper) are made of 30% or greater post-consumer recycled content.
  • Provide durable dishes (including coffee mugs) in the office.

Energy Conservation

  • All employees turn off computers each night.
  • Use power settings that automatically turn off or hibernate idle monitors and printers after 15 minutes or less of inactivity.
  • Use programmable thermostats to automatically reduce heating and air conditioning during closed hours.
  • Occupancy sensors or timers are used for lighting in storage rooms, offices, restrooms, and other common rooms.


  • Teleconference and videoconference technologies are used.
  • Workplace website lists transportation options for guests.
  • Provide bike parking for staff and customers.
  • Make available free bike, transit, and walk maps for employees and customers (Smart Trips Business Program).
  • Get There is a local ride matching tool that matches you with people going your way for work or play to create a carpool, and also provides trip planning tools for public transportation, walking, and biking to your destination.
  • Transit Pass Programs are available for employers to provide as a benefit to your employees.

Water Usage

  • Install free faucet aerators in the kitchens and restrooms available from the Portland Water Bureau.
  • Employees and guests drink tap water rather than bottled water. 

Information and Education

  • Appoint and empower an employee or team of employees to lead sustainability efforts.
  • Make sustainability-related information available to staff.
  • Recycle at Work is another program that offers free, customized assistance to all types of businesses throughout the Portland metropolitan area. Request assistance and access online tools. Get free recycling containers, posters, presentations, and other education materials.
  • Receive Kill A Watt monitors free from your local libraries to measure how much electricity electric devise are using when plugged in. Find a participating library here.
  • Use Energy Trust’s Evaluate Your Home to document information about your building and how you use energy, organized by lighting, office equipment, HVAC, and food service equipment.