Making the office a bit greener requires us to be more responsible stewards of the Earth. Accomplishing that task pays off with a handsome reward: a better place to live and more efficient operations. According to U.S. National Grid, energy costs represent roughly 19 percent of total expenditures for a typical office building. Conserving energy is therefore not only good for the planet, but it results in a healthier profit margin. Here are three changes you can usher in at your office to reduce your carbon footprint.
#1 Measure Energy Usage
It can be difficult to determine what the goal for energy consumption should be at a particular office without knowing what your company is doing right and what it is not. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Change the office mindset from “monitoring” to “measuring.” Only then can realistic goals be set.
The first step toward creating a conservation program is to conduct a carbon footprint analysis based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. That standard includes the accounting and reporting of seven greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol website offers reporting tools to help companies calculate emissions.
#2 Implement Daylighting Systems
Daylighting systems place windows, skylights, wall fixtures, and other devices in order to transmit daylight into a room in order to save on electricity costs. Some also reflect the daylight up onto the ceiling, which indirectly illuminates a room. Such daylight harvesting helps lower lighting energy consumption by using natural light to offset electric light in perimeter workspaces. In addition, worker productivity increases with better light quality—workers who are exposed to more natural light perform better than those who are not.
#3 Manage Employee Travel
Promoting ride sharing and using public transportation can reduce air pollution and can deliver employees to their workplaces efficiently and quickly. Often, however, staff members have their own automobiles and therefore have little motivation to change their modes of transportation. Subsidizing employee use of carpooling, energy-efficient vehicles, car-sharing programs, mass transit, bikes, and other transportation efficiency measures can reduce the energy consumed by employee commuting.
Flex schedules that start earlier or later than rush hour can also cut back on energy use. In addition, compressed work weeks and regular telecommuting also help eliminate or reduce employee commute time. Finally, don't forget the benefits of teleconferencing. By adopting guidelines on the use of web, telephone, and video-conferencing, you’ll avoid unnecessary travel and associated carbon emissions.
Measuring energy use, reducing consumption, and managing travel are three ways to make a major impact toward reducing the carbon footprint at your company. Those should go hand-in-hand with everyday measures, such as paper recycling, turning off unused lights and keeping the thermostat at 25 °C in the summer and 20 °C in the winter when the building is in use. (In fact, Energy.gov reports that adjusting the thermostat appropriately by 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day can reduce energy usage by 5 to 15 percent annually.)
In addition, alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power are practical in some parts of the United States. By using energy efficiently, companies can help ensure better air quality, prevent against brownouts or power shortages, and boost their own bottom lines.
Content sponsored by Digi-Key Electronics.