Buildings don’t use energy—people do. Your employees and tenants can make or break a building’s energy performance. Energy Star has an interactive animated cubicle for you to explore some of the different ways you as an employee could help save energy at your workplace. Here are some ideas for contributing to energy-conservation:
- Turn off your electronic items at the end of each working day. If you can’t turn off the whole computer, turn off the peripherals like the monitor, printer, external speakers, etc. You can get an immediate 75% energy savings by simply turning off office equipment when you leave for the day.
- Reduce paper use by printing double-sided or re-using paper. I keep a large box under my desk that gets filled with nothing but paper. Old reports, estimates, and other documents are discarded into the box. When I run out of paper in the printer, before opening a new ream I quickly go through the box and pull out pages that can be re-used. It’s really quite simple! Although, admittedly this is more difficult if you have to share a larger printer with the rest of the office.
- Turn off the lights when not needed. And actually take a look at what kind of lamps the office is using. Does your office use incandescent light bulbs? What about those hot metal halide recessed lamps? Do you see the thicker-diameter T12 fluorescent lamps installed into a ceiling bay? Those are all indications that your workplace’s facility is still using outdated, energy-consuming lighting technology.
- Use email instead of sending memos and faxing documents. And if you’re not using a form of instant messaging application, I suggest trying it out. Even if you just use Google chat. It makes sending quick notes to office neighbors so much easier than post-its and memos!
- Ask your IT department to invest in ENERGY STAR computers, monitors, printers, fax machines and copiers that power down after a user-specified period of inactivity.
- If possible, use laptop computers. They consume 90% less energy than standard desktop computers.
- If possible, use inkjet printers. They consume 90% less energy than laser printers.
- Does your office have one of those large over-sized copiers? If so – is it actually used so much that it’s justified? Large copiers are seldom used when compared to equipment like your computer and monitor. And the salesmen like to sell your office one that’s filled with features you really don’t ever use. Try talking to your boss and convince him or her to purchase/rent the right sized copier for your business.
In a report outlining various case studies of behavioral programs to encourage energy-efficiency among employees, four key behaviors were observed:
- the programs set the tone with the support of upper management and its public image
- they built a team or project committee with peer champions on board
- they utilized communication tools such as e-mails, prompts, web sites, public meetings and posters to reach target audiences
- they engaged building occupants by means of feedback, benign peer pressure and competition, as well as through performance-linked rewards
If your workplace does not already implement an energy-efficient behavioral program, why not try bugging your boss about it?! It might actually show initiative, which is something bosses love to see from their employees.
The report suggests that the key benefits of such programs extend beyond the workplace, and that they are often successful in changing a participant’s thinking and behaviors.
That means that by simply changing the way people think about energy-usage when they are at work can also spark a desire in them to be more conscious about their usage at home or in public.