Offices might seem naturally energy efficient – many modern office interiors are airy, open spaces designed for comfort, but that doesn’t always equate directly with energy efficiency.
When you want to save energy in an office, you need to look at it with fresh eyes, not based on what will feel best during your use of the space, but in terms of how your own behaviour could be adjusted to avoid wasting energy, without making yourself too uncomfortable in the process.
1. Light and bright spaces and environments
Light levels are important – you need to be able to see what you are doing, and the correct level of illumination can help to avoid eye fatigue during a long working day.
If you have an open plan working space with large windows, then you might be able to make more use of natural light, allowing you to keep the ceiling lights switched off for longer.
When you do need to switch them on, consider having lights that illuminate a specific work area, rather than having an entire office brightly lit if just one person is working late after dark.
Modern energy-saving light bulbs should help to cut your electricity consumption while still throwing out enough brightness, and lighting controls can make sure that any lights accidentally left on will switch themselves off if they do not detect any movement over the course of a few minutes.
2. Solar shielding for optimal protection
The flipside to using natural light is that sunshine can raise the temperature inside your premises – so don’t wipe out your energy savings by cranking up the air conditioning.
Getting the balance right can be a challenge, but solar shielding can tint windows just enough to block out the heat, without making interiors dark at the same time.
If your building gets a particularly large amount of sunlight, you might want to consider installing solar panels to supplement your mains energy supply, too.
3. Good ventilation throughout
Ventilation is worth treating as an issue in its own right – a room with open windows can feel much more inviting than a room at the same temperature but with static air.
Be clear on your policy regarding open windows – who gets to decide, what the acceptable temperature range will be, and make sure artificial heating and air conditioning is switched off if the windows are open, as this will just waste energy otherwise.
4. Computer equipment geared towards energy efficiency
If the first thing you hear when you open the office door in the morning is the whirr of computer fans, you could be wasting huge amounts of electricity powering computer equipment when it is not in use.
Even if you cannot shut down your network overnight, consider doing so at weekends or over the Christmas break, and use simple methods like display standby and machine hibernation to cut power consumption on idle machines.
5. Flexible working hours for staff
Employees have the right to request flexible working conditions, but employers with energy efficiency in mind should be offering these as standard anyway.
The more of your workforce who work from home, or who work only during the hours when it’s light and warm, the more energy you can save on heating and lighting your premises, and on running computer equipment and so on.