Six Ways to Reduce Energy Use in Office Buildings
A 2009 study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that nearly half of all the energy consumed in the United States was used in commercial and industrial facilities. Additionally, the EIA reports that offices and office buildings are responsible for almost 20 percent of all the energy used in the United States.
However, according to Stephen Ashkin, CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, LLC, "there are several steps facility owners/managers can take to help cut energy usage, which also helps reduce building operating costs."
1. Have workers turn off computer monitors that will not be used for more than 20 minutes; turn off both the computer and the monitor if they will not be used for more than two hours.
2. Color-code power sources and power-using equipment so that cleaning professionals know what electronics to leave on and which can be turned off at the end of the business day.
3. Turn off or avoid using items that produce "heat" such as coffee makers, space heaters, etc.
4. Institute a work-from-home day once a week.
5. Conserve water to reduce energy. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it takes the same amount of energy to run water and treatment facilities for a year as it does to power 5 million houses annually.
6. Install an alternative energy source. A small wind turbine or solar power system can pay for itself by covering the energy needs of a facility; it may even be possible to sell extra power back to the utility company.
"And be sure and celebrate successes," says Ashkin. "When energy usage and costs are reduced, this information should be celebrated and communicated to all staff. This helps motivate everyone to continue [to] build on their accomplishments."
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