Why an energy-wise office will turn a money pit into a money tree

As Duncan Everett, Managing Director of Optimal says

“Education and the constant provision of information are vital to change the mindsets of employers and employees. We must encourage a greener future where energy is treated as a precious commodity and not taken for granted.”

 “Turn That Light Off”

People have a tendency to ignore the lights left on in the office but leaving a 100 watt bulb on for ten hours will consume 1 kilowatt of electricity. Or to borrow an example from The Energy Neighbourhood’s website – a display of 100 5w Xmas lights left on for 10 hours over 12 festive days will consume 60 KW per hour of electricity. The message is simple – leaving the lights on costs money. Switch to energy –saving fluorescent bulbs which use up to 80% less electricity than the old fashioned incandescent ones. If a room is not in use then neither should the lights be so if they are not being turned off manually, consider installing motion sensors to do it automatically. Turning the lights off will also benefit the air conditioning costs as lights contribute to the heat in a room.

 “Born In A Barn?”  

Air conditioning uses a lot of energy and costs money.  So when in use in the summer months, keep the doors and windows closed or external heat will compete with your air conditioning unit. Likewise, in the winter, when the heating is on, keep the doors and windows shut or see the £ signs float up into the atmosphere. Adjusting the thermostat one degree higher in the summer and one degree lower in the winter will save about 10% on energy bills. Register your interest for funding with the Government’s Electricity Demand Reduction Auction to replace inefficient chillers and heating controls.

 “Save Your Energy For Tomorrow”  

Stop leaving office computers and laptops in sleep mode and turn them off instead. A computer display in full use consumes 65 watts, in sleep mode uses 12 watts and switched off 0.8 watts. Programme computers to reboot at a certain time in the morning or do it manually whilst you’re grabbing your coffee. Be warned, equipment that shows no sign of power can still have a standby mode and be using watts without anyone realising. According to the Energy Saving Secrets website, “Having appliances on standby may account for about one hundredth of all carbon dioxide emissions released into the atmosphere globally.”  By fitting a meter and installing monitoring software a business can identify energy usage including any unusual activity. Optimal Monitoring provide energy and waste reporting software which allows businesses to be equipped with the information they need to reduce waste, carbon consumption and operating costs. Receiving up to date, clear and actionable information in a specified timescale, allows a business to target areas of inefficiency, compare usage and waste and implement effective plans for energy and cost reductions. Typically, just monitoring and making minor adjustments brings down consumption, costs and emissions by 10%.

 “Do You Want To Walk Home?”  

Walk or take public transport or maybe arrange a lift share. Choose low polluting, more efficient business pool cars – the Energy Saving Trust can provide advice on car fleets and greener vehicles as well as efficient driving. Add your business travel, transportation and fuel costs to your online energy monitoring system to measure and manage your carbon footprint, working out the cost to the company and highlighting areas for savings.

 “Waste Not, Want Not.”  

One drop of water per second can waste approx 2,300 gallons of water every year. So fix those leaky taps and install water saving devices on taps and toilets.  Consider upgrading the toilets to ones that use less water. Use your monitoring software to measure water consumption and highlight potential issues such as leaking pipes. Oh, and don’t use coloured toilet tissue – the paper dissolves but the dye remains. Whilst we’re discussing water – nearly 90 % of plastic bottles are not recycled. Consider a reusable container and fill it with tap water.  Recycle what you can. Every ton of glass recycled saves having to use nine gallons of crude oil to make new glass. Twenty recycled aluminium cans use the same energy in being remade as it takes to manufacture one new one.

“Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees…”  

And neither does paper. Use email where possible and recycled paper when you can’t email. Adjust your office printer to print double-sided. Organizations can potentially reduce annual paper costs by 30% by selecting duplex printing. Head for the recycling bin when you’ve finished with the paper and you’ll save money and trees in the process…

 “Just Who Is In Charge?”  

Companies and their energy managers should take the lead and educate, encourage and incentivise their employees.  70% of a company’s energy is used by staff. Use office dashboards in public areas such as the canteen or reception to target employees with relevant energy information.  Optimal Monitoring’s bespoke dashboards can be tailored to suit a company’s needs and updated constantly to display relevant information.  For example, league tables can be created with office floors colour coded to show the energy use of each.

Provide energy saving targets, recycling areas, and where possible, more efficient machinery. Participate in energy events and conferences.  Check out Green Office Week (GOW) an “annual awareness week that encourages workers across the UK to make small changes to their habits to positively impact the environment”.

Duncan Everett, MD at Optimal Monitoring summarises

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful to say we all employ Environmental Best Practices and take responsibility for our energy use in the work place? In the home environment, at the very least, we are likely to recycle, turn the lights off and adjust the heating and there are few good reasons why we shouldn’t be doing these things and more in our place of work, now and in the future.  Today in the UK, our younger generations are being raised in an era of recycling, energy saving concepts and environmental education. Businesses and industry must build on these foundations by clearly laying out company green policies to the next wave of young employees. Train, target and reward, in the hope that the future will see employees to whom the sustainability agenda comes as second nature.”

Image courtesy of suphakit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net