It is estimated that buildings in general consume 40% of the world’s energy. A 2012 report on energy consumption and greenhouse emissions in commercial buildings in Australia (with 2009 as the base year) shows that the total energy consumption of commercial buildings represents 3.5% of the gross final consumption. Furthermore, experts expect it to rise by 24% in the period 2009 to 2020. Apart from retail buildings, stand-alone offices have the second largest share in energy use – 34% of the total energy consumption.
It is crystal clear that reducing energy use of lighting, heating, cooling and running equipment in the office should be a number one priority for businesses around the world. The Government offers a great number of programs to help you live and work more sustainably. Energy Efficiency Exchange is one of them.
At the end of each working day, turn off the office equipment, such as computers, printers and scanners at the mains, rather than putting them on stand-by. Did you know that leaving office equipment on stand-by consumes 40% more energy over 24h than the one running for 3h? During the day when you are not using it, switch your computer, or laptop to a hibernate mode. Reduce paper use by sending e-mails as much as you can and using cloud storage. If you cannot use electric storage and e-mails in certain situations, at least print double-sided, reuse paper and use recycled paper.
You should think of buying ENERGY STAR MODEL office equipment as an investment. It is more expensive than regular equipment, but it will pay off in the long run. If you can, choose laptop computers instead of desktop computers and inkjet printers instead of laser printers, as the first ones consume 90% less energy.
Turning off lights when not needed is the least you can do to save energy. Painting the interior walls of the office bright colours is an affordable way to improve reflection. Benefit from natural sunlight as much as you can during the day. You can consider light tubes, which bring natural sunlight from the exterior into the interior of the office.
In addition, substitute incandescent and CFLs with LEDs, advise the people behind Sydney Electrician. Over 50,000 h, incandescent light bulbs consume 3000 kWh, CFLs 700 kWh and LEDs only 500 kWh. You can also consider lighting fixtures with dimmers. Where possible, install motion detectors, especially at restrooms.
Heating and cooling
Small and affordable changes in this aspect include using shades during early morning and late evening in summer. Small drafts in the office can lead to substantial air leaking, so opt for caulking and weatherstripping as the two most effective air-sealing techniques. If you do need to use air-conditioning, make sure the temperature does not go over 18 8°C in winter and not below 25°C in summer. Use timers to keep temperatures at required level. Turning off air-conditioning during a few hours before the end of each working day is also recommended.
You can also find a number of energy-efficient paints and coatings on the market. They have better reflectivity, emittance and conductance than regular paints. Double-glazed windows can reduce not only heating and cooling costs, but noise transmission, as well. If you cannot afford double-glazed windows, consider reflective window films, awnings, solar screen shades, or blinds. However, proper wall and ceiling insulation achieve best results as far as energy efficiency is concerned.
Solar energy offers you one of the most efficient ways to save both money and the environment. Another advantage of solar panels is that they require minimal maintenance. Not only can you save money, but you can earn it, as well. You can sell the excess energy to the grid. A main disadvantage of solar panels is their initial cost, but they will bring long-term savings. Bear in mind that not all buildings can benefit from solar energy as their functioning depends on various factors.
Energy management technology systems
For commercial buildings, there are two types of energy management technology systems you can choose. On one hand, you have a building automation system, which controls a building’s lighting, heating and cooling. It can also monitor flood and fire safety. One drawback of the system is that it cannot be installed in buildings built prior 1990s.
On the other hand, you have energy management software whose function is optimizing energy efficiency. It provides detailed analytics on energy consumption allowing you to monitor it from anywhere. However, in order to make changes on energy use based on the software’s analysis, you need a building automation system.
You have been presented with both small-scale and large scale changes in your office. You can choose the ones fitting in your budget. Yet, even the smallest change can help this world become more energy-efficient and pollution-free.