With everything being written about going green in commercial office buildings, it’s not surprising that people come away with the impression that it costs. A lot. True that major retrofits, renovations, a complete changeover to LED lighting and putting in a green roof are all expensive. But there are ways to cut back on energy and go greener without major investment
Turn It Off:
“It” can be a light that isn’t truly necessary; lights used intermittently such as those in rest rooms; a computer not being used. At night, all electronics should be turned off including office copiers
Crank It Up:
There’s energy savings with only a few points of upward change in AC setting. To add to comfort, consider making casual Fridays on other days. Make the upward change one small degree at a time. You’ll reach the resistance point but the point is to find that point.
Change It Out:
Changing out a light bulb to a longer-lasting LED light can save considerable energy over time, reduce maintenance and keep areas cooler as LED lights don’t diffuse heat as much as other light sources. While retrofitting a whole building might be well beyond the operating budget, individual lamps are another thing all together. Building managers can consider converting to LED lighting one area at a time.
Paint it White:
In this case, we’re referring to the roof. Creating a green roof is an extensive and expensive undertaking as well as requiring long-term maintenance. Lacking that budget or commitment, the simplest way to save energy is to paint the roof with a reflecting coat of white to keep the building cooler.
Tune It Up:
Whether individual office or entire building, make sure all equipment and systems are working at peak performance. Seal leaks. Calibrate thermostats. Insulate water tanks. Change filters.
Keep It Clear:
Don’t block vents with paper, files, clothing or other office supplies. You use 25% more energy when vents are blocked.
Use It Wisely:
Energy costs are high so conserve what you can. Insulating windows, pulling drapes and shutting blinds can keep AC in and energy costs down.
A laptop is more energy efficient than a full size computer and monitor, drawing 15-25 vs. 150 watts. Ink jet printers use less energy than even some of the new energy-efficient laser printers. A LED task light will take up less space, use less energy and provide focused light in place of overhead lighting (where you can consider shutting down every third or fourth light.)
Adding live plants to the lobby, corridors and offices will serve to clean surrounding air, reduce carbon monoxide and add oxygen. Use plants in front of glass windows to create a shading effect and control solar heat gain. They also reduce dust, bacteria and mold.
Statistics show that commercial office buildings squander 30% of energy consumed. The above tips are, for the most part, easy to implement and can make inroads into that double digit waste.
By Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD + C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services