There was a time when energy conservation, climate change, and global warming were all just “buzz” words. Not anymore, however, as we are subject to alarming statistics that tell us, in graphic detail, what we have to show for our collective bad behavior over the decades. No longer do we just pay lip service to these issues, as it has become socially correct to do something about it. Recent huge run ups in the price of oil have given us additional incentive, where it hurts most in the pocketbook, to act.
One of the first places that we can start to be socially responsible is in the office. Statistics show that office buildings use more electricity than any other type of commercial building, but if we all take some relatively simple steps we can ensure that we make our office greener.
Air conditioning, heating and cooling methods represent one of the largest consumers of energy. The Center for Sustainable Systems tells us that this expense accounts for 11% of total electricity consumption in a commercial building. Always use a programmable thermostat, which should be set to a comfortable 68° during work hours. Make sure that the thermostat is set to relax this requirement during downtime. In a 24-hour day, the office is typically not occupied for 12 to 14 hours and there is no sense in heating or cooling an empty space unnecessarily.
When addressing energy consumption, consider your lighting bill. Switch out those overhead energy-hog lighting units and replace your bulbs with Energy Star-qualified compact fluorescent lights, which use fully 75% less energy. Try and make best use of natural light as and when you can, by installing daylight sensors and automatic blinds.
Within the office environment, become a “tree hugger”. A typical office worker uses up to 12,000 sheets of paper in a year. Ask yourself whether you really need to print out that e-mail and try and use both sides of a sheet of paper if you do have to print. Recycle, recycle, recycle. When it comes to the end of the day, make sure that all computers are in power-down mode or sleep mode, if not switched off – peripherals, too.
Extend your newly found green theme beyond the workspace. Consider how your travel to work – is it possible to take advantage of transit system subsidies, carpool or even ride a bike? Energy use, traffic and air pollution could be slashed if half of all employees in the United States engaged. This would be akin to taking 15 million cars off the road.
Clean up your act in the office. Employee morale will get a boost, valuable money will be saved and we will do our bit for the environment.
How have you made your office greener? Has it saved you money?