With energy bills rising and margins being squeezed there has never been a more important time to review your office’s energy consumption. There are many issues to cover which will differ from looking at a brand new office space, to assessing an existing one. The energy costs for a modern office can vary from £4-30 square metre (ex VAT.) There are three main areas to consider when addressing the energy efficiency of a working environment, some of which will apply if you are looking for energy efficient premises and others which can be adjusted in an existing environment.
A new build office will have to meet the latest design regulations regarding insulation but older buildings may well fall short of these; so initial savings in rent might be vanishing through the walls and ceiling when the heating is turned on. Open plan offices will generally use more energy, especially for lighting; and air conditioning is also a major consumer of electricity. Where a building has been converted from its original use you may find that temperature control can cause problems, even where this had not been an issue in its previous incarnation.
The quality of the build
In modern buildings, the layout will have been influenced by its effect on the internal environment. Recent innovations in technology will have beeen used to minimise the requirements for building services and at the same time, make sure that they are effective and easy to control; shutting down sections that are not required rather than the whole system. Older structures will generally be less efficient; and heating and ventilation will almost certainly require higher energy consumption for the amount of space.
Who, when and how
This is where existing office space can be looked at; including what hours is the space actually being used for, and how does this tie in with the operation of the building services. Establish what office equipment is in place and how often it is being used. Another area to examine is what maintenance systems are in place to ensure that the services are operating efficiently.
So, to save money on office energy bills, it helps to start with a modern building, built in a day and age when energy is a major concern rather than an after thought. With older buildings it may be possible to improve insulation, or update the heating and air conditioning with a state of the art system that will pay for itself relatively quickly in energy cost savings. Look at how the building is being used and make sure that the services match the times when personnel are in situ. For larger buildings, studies have shown that heating and air conditioning can be switched off for an hour at a time during the day with no significant difference noticed by the occupants. A general policy for turning off unwanted equipment at night can be introduced and controlled with a single remote control for each space.
Tenanted buildings are a separate case as the general costs are shared, but not by the landlord, who will happily allow heating to remain on longer than is necessary and other inefficiencies to be ignored. A meeting of the tenants to review where savings could be made can bring rewards for all concerned.
Sarah writes for Claddagh Oil an oil supply company in Galway Ireland.