Reducing corporate energy consumption reduces costs and frees capital to be invested elsewhere. It can also make for a healthier company culture. Read this to see how to reap the benefits.
Educate Staff On The Benefits Of Saving Energy
Especially if your computer equipment doesn’t have the quickest processing or load up speeds, it can be hard to get employees to shut down their machines every day. When a person isn’t paying the bills, it’s too tempting to leave a computer on overnight.
But leaving a computer turned on overnight for a year produces enough carbon dioxide to fill a double decker bus. And so many people are practising this habit that it accounts for 1% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.
When you consider all the other things which produce carbon dioxide in the world, 1% is actually very sizeable. And that is just the computers themselves; not to mention printers, monitors, computer batteries, power leads and phone chargers.
Looking at just the latter, a mere 5% of the energy a phone charger uses actually gets used to recharge the mobile phone. The other 95%, on average, is going to waste through “electrical leakage”. This is because the majority of charges still draw in energy even when not connected to their device.
Spending time highlighting these consequences of their habits to staff should make changing energy habits in the company a lot easier to facilitate than simply issuing an instruction.
So, at the same time as doing this, it’s time to looking into using more efficient electrical devices and perhaps incentivising energy saving behaviour in the workplace.
Data here sourced from Cambridge University.
Research Switching Devices
LCD monitors are now around three times more efficient as old CRT monitors. And this can be boosted even further when brightness is turned down to 70%, because it will use around a further 20% less energy than when running at 100%.
When a third of a computer’s energy is used by the monitor, this is a great help.
Alternatively, if energy use in your workplace is especially high and staff use a mobile device connected to monitors, you may want to forego monitors altogether. Staff should work solely from a laptop or 2-in-1 laptop-tablet screens. This will cut the need to be running two screens and using energy needlessly.
Mobile devices also use less energy than desktop machines. This is thanks to reasons ranging from having less processing power requirements and being able to run on battery power. You can even attach solar device charges.
Printers and copiers with a low melting point toner can save up to 40% of the energy they use because they have a shorter warm up time. As an aside, this also boosts productivity as each use will see staff spending less time waiting for the machine to exit idle or standby mode and heating the toner.
Woman working with no monitor.
Incentivise Energy Savings
Once your staff have been educated on the importance of following energy saving habits, it’s time to show them how to do it and reward those who reduce energy use the most.
Here’s some more ideas of how to use less energy in the office:
- Depending on the popularity of hot water drinks, look into installing a hot tap as opposed to using inefficient kettles.
- If using kettles, only boil the amount of water needed and keep frequency of use to a minimum. i.e. Brew up in rounds. Brewing on a person to person basis sees the same water boiled several times over.
- Turn off lights when an area of the building is not in use.
- Turn off lights during peak daylight hours.
- Turn down the heating by 1.5 degrees.
- Become as much of a paperless office as possible to drastically reduce printing and copying needs.
- Encourage hot desking and working from home. This will force staff to use mobile devices and encourage shutting down machinery when finished working and packing items away.
- Unplug all chargers when not in use.
- Turn off all devices at the end of office hours.
And this is a great way to incentivise making these habits the norm in for your workforce.
You should conduct an energy audit of current habits. This can be done by checking meter readings or installing a smart meter and monitoring usage habits. A company wide reward could be given if general usage drops.
In order to change company culture though – whilst encouraging team building – it’s great to inspire some competitive spirit.
First, appoint an energy monitor. They will be responsible for managing this exercise and acting as “referee” in the next steps.
The energy monitor will also be responsible for checking which desks have their devices switched off. At this point, it’s worth mentioning that the energy monitor should be somebody who either arrives first thing in the morning or leaves last thing at night.
Next, they should decide how the workforce will be divided in order to keep a track of who is following the best energy saving habits and can be allocated points for their good behaviour. This could be in in desk clusters, areas of the office floor or even just between individuals.
From here, the energy monitor will be responsible for keeping tabs on how energy efficient the different teams or individuals are.
How often a team brews up, for example, could be counted by teams having to put a coloured counter into a jar whenever they use the kettle. The team with the smallest number of counters in the jar each week can be awarded the points.
The energy monitor could reward points to the team who has turned off the most equipment at the end of a working day.
Printer data could be analysed and those who print the least can claim the points.
All of these can be tallied on a weekly basis, with a prize awarded at the end of each month. Weekly league tables could be put up in the breakout area.
Keep this lighthearted and it should become a good bit of competitive fun, especially when it comes close to prize awarding time.
Upgrade Your Building Infrastructure
Whilst all of these little habitual changes are great, especially when employed en masse, high energy use issues may lie in the fact that your office is inefficient in itself.
Beyond switching to more efficient electrical devices, you also need to consider: the heating and cooling of your building, the external and glazing layout, and the lighting within the building.
Switching to more efficient light bulbs is one thing. But it’s more efficient to switch to a smart, reactive lighting system. This can be as basic as putting lights onto a timer, to installing motion sensors. Or lighting systems which react to the levels of natural light in a space and adapt their brightness accordingly.
The way your office is laid out can also play a big part in how light fills your office. It may be that a reworking of your space and layout will dramatically improve how light travels around the office, meaning that less lights – and therefore less energy – are required.
You can get loads more ideas about how to improve your office in 2017 by reading our free ebook.