Saving Energy At Work

Saving Energy At WorkAdjusting your office operations to be more energy efficient will lead to some immediate savings for your business and more importantly reduce your company’s probably large carbon footprint. Did you know that commercial buildings account for 38% of total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions?

Many companies have already realized a first, even second wave of cost and energy savings from previous sustainability measures.  But undoubtedly, there’s more untapped low-hanging potential still waiting to be picked off that carbon reduction tree.

There are some additional measures you can take (or strongly suggest to your boss) to reduce everyone’s carbon footprint at work.

Saving Energy At Work By Better Managing Your PCs

Basic Desktops – Many basic model desktops now have a variety of sleep and eco -mode settings.   These setting options have become pretty elaborate with different levels of idle settings (sleep, snooze, eco..), various timed off triggers (snooze about 10 or 30 minutes) and many can automatically turn on and off at set times by day of the week.

Each setting will reduce the typical 50-300 watts of energy consumed to a fraction of that running rate.   But even with these setting, which is a vast improvement,  many electronics continue to consume energy even when they appear to be in the shut-off mode. This is referred to as “phantom” energy use, and can consume as much as 10-15 watts of power per hour, all night long, all weekend for each device. The only way around this is to turn off the power strip or unplug the machine.

Phantom Electricity

A typical desktop with a dual-core processor, Intel integrated graphics and a couple of hard drives will draw about 50 watts at idle and will just break 100 watts when is use.  But toss in an enhanced video card or other graphics and that can add another 50-250 watts.

Laptops –  If you focusing on greening your office, don’t spend too much time with laptops.  Even powerful laptops draw very little power (20 watts) when idle for a basic netbook or about 50 watts for an Ultrabook.  Technology advancements with better processors have squeezed out wasted energy when idle.  Better off focusing on those workers with bigger computers, multiple screens, and all those peripherals in their cube.   Those set-ups are the real power hogs in your office.

How To Monitor Your Energy Use

Graphic Computers With Multi-screen – While the energy consumption of an average computer has steadily declined over the years, more powerful, enhance models have become more commonplace in the workplace.   When its time for a new computer, office workers will oftentimes request and justify an over-buy and lobby for more powerful, graphic workstation with multiple screens.  This upgrade can convincingly be justified with the promise of an elevated ability to be more productive.

Saving Energy At Work By Junking Your Paper Production Devices

Copier/Fax/Print Machines –  Honestly with today’s communication abilities, from a green perspective (both environment and your company’s money) JUNK all of these devices.  Yes, either pull and sell, or  recycle.   If you still cannot part with them, consider downsizing these machines to begin the weaning process.  These machines are dinosaurs in the office, soon to be collectors items.   Repurpose them now, while you still can.

Fax – If your office still has a fax.  Walk over there right now and pull the plug and get rid of it.  Your company can live without it and transmit files as attachments. 

Copier and Printer- Down size to discourage easy, mindless coping and over printing.  Buy a smaller, small job printer for convenience and farm out larger jobs to a professional outfit.   You can probably put all that office space dedicated to printers to better use anyway.  Economically and energy-wise it probably makes more sense to contract with a local business supply store or print shop.   It is pretty easy to send files online to these third party printers (Staples, Office Depot,….)

But before you get your energy saving efforts underway – benchmark it. Study the office electricity consumption.   Pick a reduction target of 20-30% (that should be realistic) maybe with a stretch goal of 40-50%.  Target the biggest power hogs first, before working on the small potatoes.   You may realize this reduction sooner than you think.  With some commonsense new practices and better power strips you will soon see progress.

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About the author

Danielle Jappah

Danielle brings a touch of southern US charm to our writing team.Since points of view on climate change vary depending on resources, economies, and political viewpoints of the region, we wanted a southerner to expand our point of view. The U.S. South has its own unique POV on climate change and Danielle writes from her office in Atlanta inspiring southern naysayers to wake up and recognize what happening everywhere.