Going greener and thinking about how we can work without wasting resources is at the forefront of most of how we operate today: from retailers with a goal to reduce carbon emissions by offering online services; to corporations using intelligent building management systems to monitor energy consumption in the office − we are all keen to economise on energy.

And there are some commendable examples of putting these goals into practice. One well-known supermarket chain saves more than £14 million in travel costs and almost 2,500 tonnes in Co2 emissions a year, in addition to increasing productivity by 18%, just by using audio and video conferencing. The phone company which supplies this service saved £183 million and 50,000 tonnes of Co2 in 2008 by using the same methods.

There is now more demand for the virtualisation of physical products, too: using pdfs instead of paper brochures, and online downloads instead of CDs. And as we look at how to work without the need of vast amounts of paper print outs, or by working out of the office and saving on travel costs, it has never been easier to apply environmentally friendly practices. If you use Microsoft Excel 2007 or 2010 you can also help with "greening" your organisation: collaboration features in Excel, for example, are just one of the many forward-thinking tools we can use to our advantage to cut down on everything from paper, to travel, to office space.

With Microsoft Excel you can share, analyse and communicate business information and data. And you can choose how you share this data, depending on how you want others to view or work with the information. Microsoft Excel workbooks can be setup as shared and placed on a network server for multiple users to add or modify data simultaneously. To share a Microsoft Excel workbook, enter and format the data that needs to appear in the shared excel workbook, then save the workbook on a network share (not a web server) that is available to the intended users.

When an Excel workbook is shared, each time a user saves the shared workbook, they are prompted with the changes that other users have saved since the last time that they saved. And you can keep the shared workbook open to monitor progress. Excel can even update you with the changes automatically, at timed intervals that you specify, with or without saving the workbook yourself.

When you save changes to a shared workbook, another person who is editing the workbook might have saved changes to the same cells. In this case, the changes conflict, and you are prompted with a conflict resolution dialog box so that you can choose which changes to keep.

Excel workbooks can be shared when you want multiple users to be able to edit the data in one workbook simultaneously, and you are happy for the original data in the workbook to be modified, including edits, additions and deletions. You can also share workbooks if you have a network share available on which to store the workbook and to which users have access. It's easy to keep a record of the changes that are made in the workbook.

You can even share data with others who do not have Microsoft Office Excel or have different versions of Excel. And you can share a fixed version of your workbook that can easily be sent via e-mail. In the Excel Web App, available in Windows Live or with Microsoft SharePoint 2010 technology, multiple users can edit data in a worksheet in the browser at the same time.

Some features, however, cannot be modified after a workbook is shared. These include: merged cells, conditional formats, data validation, charts, pictures, objects (including drawing objects), hyperlinks, scenarios, outlines, subtotals, data tables, PivotTable reports, workbook and worksheet protection, and macros.

You can also distribute data through e-mail, by fax or by printing. To send a workbook from Excel, open the workbook that you want to send, click the Microsoft Office Button, click the arrow next to Send, and then click E-mail. And if you need to exchange workbooks with users who use earlier versions of Excel, you can save your workbook in the Excel 97-2003 format (.xls) instead of Office Excel 2007 XML or binary format (.xlsx or .xlsb) and work on the document in Compatibility Mode. Compatibility Mode is automatically enabled when you open an Excel 97-2003 workbook.

And if you want to distribute workbooks to users who do not have Excel, that's not a problem. If you don't have access to Excel Services, you can install an add-in to save a workbook in PDF or XPS format, or you can save a workbook to other file formats and then send it to your recipients by using e-mail or fax, or by saving the file on a network share or Web share that the users can access.

You can save Excel workbooks in different file formats so that those who do not have Excel can open them in other applications or data systems. Formatting is often not retained, and sometimes formulas are not retained, depending on the format. Also, when you save to some formats, only the active sheet is saved. Therefore, if you have several worksheets in a workbook and you want to save all worksheets to a specific format, you will have to save each worksheet separately.

Sometimes it's not just about the next big technology innovation in the race towards going greener that's important; it also can be something as simple as considering what you have at your fingertips and how to use your resources in a more structured, managed and measured way that get results.