The benefits of making your office more energy-efficient goes beyond helping the environment. In particular, an energy-efficient office:
- Saves money
- Improves the economy
- Saves more than $500 billion annually in energy costs
- Creates jobs
- Spurs innovation
- Enhances overall quality of life for you and your co-workers
- Making offices more comfortable, productive and accessible
Of course, the greatest benefit is seen on the environment through reduced energy usage on oil, natural gas and coal, as well as cutting down on pollution or avoiding it altogether. Here are some of the best energy-saving tips for your office.
1. Convert to Cloud Computing
Replace enterprise hardware and software by converting your office to cloud computing, potentially saving your company $12.3 billion in energy bills, Gigaom says. In terms of carbon emission savings, that’s equivalent to 85.7 million metric tons per year by 2020 and a 38 percent overall reduction in worldwide data center energy use.
A study by Microsoft, Accenture and WSP Environment and Energy researched the environmental benefits of switching to cloud computing and broke down the cloud’s ability to lower energy use and carbon emissions from IT into four categories:
- Dynamic provisioning
- Server utilization
- Data center efficiency
For larger companies, these factors could reduce energy use and carbon emissions by upward of 30 percent, while smaller companies reap larger benefits like seeing energy reduction by upward of 90 percent. Switching to cloud computing will provide your office with cloud-data protection, backup computers/servers and around-the-clock tech support.
2. Maintain Your HVAC System
Maintenance of your heating, ventilating and air-conditioning system, including annual tune-ups, regular cleaning and replacing filters, should be done right before peak cooling or heating seasons. Proper maintenance sustains your system for longer periods of time, resulting in a lower annual cost for maintenance and provides higher indoor air quality. Don’t forget to check your office windows and doors for leaks that could seep in warm or cold air and decrease the overall efficiency of your HVAC system.
When it’s time to replace your HVAC system altogether, look for an Energy Star model that will save you 10 percent to 40 percent off your energy bill. An energy-efficient HVAC system is great, but relying less on the system cuts down your energy usage even more. In the winter, take advantage of natural sunlight peering through the windows to warm your office rather than turning on your heating system. In the summer, strategically placing vegetation (e.g., trees, large bushes), awnings and solar screens will keep your office cooler by keeping the sun out.
3. Switch to Smart Lighting
According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, more than half of energy consumed by commercial buildings, including your office, is done through heating and lighting the facility. Similar to the way you would use the sun to reduce your office’s reliance on heating during the winter, natural lighting is the most energy-efficient way to illuminate your space when possible.
Ensuring windows are unobstructed, and strategically arranging desks and tables to be in areas with maximum sunlight during work hours will greatly reduce energy consumption. Natural light is not always readily available, so adopting smart lighting solutions throughout your office is crucial. Traditional lighting systems use CFL bulbs, which are cheaper, but contain mercury, are not energy-efficient and have shorter lifespans. By switching to LED bulbs, you’re investing in a lighting solution that will last longer, keep your office cooler by avoiding heat buildup and are more durable.
4. Invest in Energy Star technology
Your office requires a variety of electronics and appliances. From desktop computers, laptops, printers and copy machines to kitchen appliances, like dishwashers, coffeemakers and refrigerators, the technology in your office consumes a lot of energy. When your electronics and appliances are in need of an upgrade, switch and invest in Energy Star-labeled products.
Not only will this boost your office’s energy efficiency, it will also save money on your energy bill and provide you with the high-performing product that your office needs. According to the EPA, U.S. companies and consumers can reap $1.8 billion in energy cost savings by using Energy Star-labeled electronics and appliances compared to their counterparts.
With 20 percent of all energy consumed in the United States coming from commercial buildings, there is a lot of room for improvement when seeking and implementing energy-efficient solutions for your office. Making a long-term commitment to reduce energy consumption is an investment the environment, economy, office and your employees will thank you for.
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