Learn more about the many actions you can take to start saving energy at your workplace, from simple steps you can take for day-to-day activities like meetings and travel, to decisions about lighting, office electronics, procurement and building maintenance.
Switch off the lights when you leave the office, and install motion detectors for lights in infrequently used areas. Put up reminders next to light switches, and ensure all non-essential lights are turned off when the office is closed.
For lights that must be left on all the time, use the lowest wattage necessary, and consider fluorescent compact lights (CFLs), which use 75 per cent less energy and last up to 10 times longer. For desk lights, consider direct/indirect T8 and T5 fluorescent lamps with dimming capabilities that can be controlled individually by each employee or by occupancy sensors.
Retrofit EXIT signs with LEDs, which consume about 2 watts and last 100,000 hours or more.
Turn off your monitor when you leave work. You can also enable your monitor's energy saving features during the day. Set printing defaults to the double-sided feature of the printers' settings to reduce your office paper use.
When looking for office equipment and electronics, look for the EnerGuide label which details the equipment's energy use information. Additionally, look for the ENERGYSTAR® label. Electronics with this label can be switched into sleep mode after a preset period of inactivity. In these modes, equipment can consume up to 90 per cent less electricity.
Provide reusable mugs, plates and utensils in your break room. Encourage employees to donate in old dishware and utensils they no longer want.
Set up recycling boxes for paper, cardboard, cans, plastics, glass and printer cartridges. Buy products with less packaging and items that are made using recycled materials.
Travel and vehicle use
Getting to and from work
Encourage employees to use alternative modes of transportation. Contests like a friendly commuter challenge offering prizes for green travel are a great incentive for staff. Offer discounts on transit and save money by reducing staff parking. Offer employees the ability to coordinate carpooling groups instead of driving alone.
Driving for work
If you need to drive for work, reduce your fuel use and costs with these simple actions:
- Accelerate smoothly: Start slow and build up speed gradually
- Prepare to stop by slowing down: Avoid hard stops and you'll use less fuel
- Reduce idling: It only takes 10 seconds to use more fuel than restarting the vehicle
- Plan and combine trips: Schedule trips with the farthest stop first
- Check tire pressure monthly: Proper tire pressure increases fuel efficiency and decreases wear on the tires
- Travel light: Only bring the gear needed for the job at hand. The lighter a load in the vehicle, the less fuel consumed.
When vehicles are left running longer than 10 seconds they use more fuel than simply turning the engine off and re-starting it again. Idling is not an effective means for warming up your vehicle in the winter as it does not warm up the vehicle's transmission, tires, suspension, steering and wheel bearings. Even under winter conditions, fuel-injected engines only need about 30 seconds to two minutes to circulate oil through the engine.
Heating and cooling
Install a programmable thermostat and set it to begin 30 minutes before employees arrive and to stop 30 minutes before they leave. Turn down the heat instead of opening windows and doors. In summer, use the minimum setting on your air conditioner that is necessary for comfort. For large systems, consider hiring an expert to select the best heating and cooling control settings, and to help maintain your systems.
Repair and maintain your building by sealing cracks with caulking, and install weather-stripping around windows and doors. Consider adding building insulation or replacing old windows. Weatherization efforts can significantly reduce heating costs while making the interior space more comfortable for employees.
Add insulation to hot water tanks and exposed piping to reduce heat loss. Turn down the temperature control settings to a comfortable level depending on your needs. The recommended temperature for hand-washing and showers is 40 degrees celsius, 71 degrees celsius for laundry and 82 degrees celsius for dishwashers. It's also a good idea to install quality low-flow toilets and faucets to reduce water use.
Other energy saving tools for businesses
BC Hydro offers energy saving ideas for lighting, building envelopes, office equipment, heating and cooling, hot water, refrigeration systems and more. Visit Power Smart.
Interested in a comprehensive evaluation of your company's energy use? To conduct an energy audit on your facility, contact an energy management consultant.