Written by guest blogger, Greg Geilman
Many modern offices may be sleek and efficient -- except when it comes to energy usage. Offices waste a lot of energy, which translates directly into wasted money and a larger carbon footprint. Explore the biggest energy drains in the office and efficient ways to reduce energy usage in your office.
Overhead lights are on all day long, even in places like the bathroom or hallway, where there isn't constant foot traffic. Fluorescent bulbs are by far the most prevalent type of office lighting, with 93 percent of commercial buildings relying on the standard fluorescent tube lighting, which are not energy efficient.
Offices can cut costs and reduce their energy usage by switching to a more energy efficient light, such as LED bulbs. LEDs use far less wattage than fluorescent, CFL, and incandescent bulbs. Simply retrofitting the office with overhead LED lighting will save money.
Lights with motion sensors turn on when someone approaches. By installing this type of light in halls or bathrooms, the office can reduce energy costs without compromising public safety.
Offices can also increase natural light, so that less overhead light is needed to illuminate the space. Glass doors, skylights, and windows increase exposure to free natural light.
Heating & Cooling Systems
Office buildings use a lot of energy to heat and cool the premises. While many offices have adopted smart thermostats to automatically regulate temperatures, there are other shifts that can save energy. By using less heat in the winter and less air conditioning in the summer -- even by one or two degrees -- an office can save money. When possible, meetings can take place in smaller rooms, which are cheaper to heat and cool. Investments in green energy solutions, from geothermal to solar, will reduce energy consumption further.
Electronics & Appliances
Whether it's that coffee maker or shared printer, electronic devices and appliances consume from 10 to 60 percent of power even when they are in a sleep or standby mode. Since newer appliances and electronics are likely more energy efficient, companies that rely on legacy equipment can cut their energy consumption by replacing an older printer or copier with a newer model.
Offices can curb power use by unplugging appliances and devices when they aren't in use. A power strip makes this easy to do, since it can control multiple devices at once. When Friday evening comes, a power strip with a timer makes it easy for everyone to power down their devices for the weekend.
This involves educating employees on ways to conserve energy, and encouraging positive behavioral changes, such as turning off a light when leaving the room or unplugging an appliance after use.
Paper & Printing Products
While paper consumption might not seem to related to energy usage, every box of paper requires significant energy to reach its destination.
Offices can reduce paper usage and their carbon footprint by printing only what's needed, printing on both sides of the paper, recycling paper and paper boxes, using email instead of print, and buying recycled paper. Cutting down on printing also saves energy by reducing printer and copier usage.
Older office buildings in particular may not have the insulation and weatherproofing needed to block air leaks. Air leaks waste energy because warm air seeps out through small gaps while cold air passes into the office during winter months. As a result, the heating system needs to work harder (and use more energy) to keep the interior warm.
In summer months, air conditioning leaks through the window while hot air passes into the office, taxing the cooling system. By investing in insulation and plugging air leaks using expandable foam, caulk, and weatherstripping, office buildings can reduce this energy transfer.
While investing in energy efficient office solutions does cost money up-front, it generates goodwill among employees and in the greater community. Once an office makes the switch -- say, from fluorescent lights to LEDs -- they start to save money every month.
Greg Geilman REALTOR® is President and CEO of South Bay Residential, a real estate company that specializes in the South Bay communities in California, USA.
As far as climate change goes, it's simple. We have one life, one planet and one chance to get it right. That is what drives me. :-)
SMV Energy Solutions provides simple smart solutions that reduce energy consumption, and which positively impacts your triple bottom line (profit, people, and planet).