Office Pace: Advances in workplace energy efficiency and sustainability

How your workplace can meet - and improve - energy standards and sustainability targets.

How your workplace can meet - and improve - energy standards and sustainability targets.
How your workplace can meet - and improve - energy standards and sustainability targets.

How your workplace can meet - and improve - energy standards and sustainability targets.

Over the years, there have been several advances in greener workplace practices. As the call to combat climate change has strengthened, organizations have had to adapt, whether to align with government standards, or to fulfill their own, internal goals of sustainability and energy efficiency.

While the motivations may vary, it is doubtless that the offices of the 2020s are quite a bit different from their 20th century counterparts. Some of these changes are the natural result of technological advances (or in some cases, a global pandemic), such as the use of laptops instead of desktop computers. Others, however, were implemented with energy efficiency and sustainability in mind.

  1. Commuting options

The dreaded office commute. For many people, their daily commute to work is both time and energy intensive; dead-end traffic and seas of cars are a common rush hour sight. However, several companies and jurisdictions around the world have implemented commuting schemes that reduce carbon emissions and clear up space on the road.

Cycle to work schemes and carpooling are just a few ways to reduce commuting’s impact on the environment. These schemes often include financial incentives as well, including tax breaks and employer contributions.

2. More energy-efficient appliances

Energy efficient appliances are additional measures many offices have taken to reduce energy consumption and save on energy costs. These appliances are wide and varied:

  • Dishwashers
  • Refrigerators
  • Air conditioning units
  • Televisions
  • Projectors

Technology continues to prioritise energy efficiency, making these appliances a reliable source of energy reduction. For greater reductions, ensure that these appliances are switched off when not in use, which can be made easier with smart power-strips.

3. Changes in heating/cooling systems

Updating an office building’s heating system to a more energy efficient method is another way that workplaces have reduced their carbon footprint. For options like heat pumps, and several others, installation costs are often a limiting factor. It is thus important to consider building infrastructure and long-term savings.

In order to better manage HVAC systems, smart thermostats automatically shut down your company’s HVAC system once the set temperature is reached.

4. Increased company awareness

One of the biggest changes has been an increase in awareness and understanding of sustainability and energy efficiency. New positions that revolve around sustainability and decarbonization help companies develop sustainability road-maps and stick with them. These road maps may involve changing company practices, enacting new policies and regulations, or creating a team specifically devoted to decarbonization and sustainability.

Facilities staff are involved in improving energy efficiency in order to both reduce consumption and costs, and submit reports on a company’s sustainability practices and efforts. Such reports are of increasing importance for regulatory bodies and organisations like investment firms.

5. Work from home

Perhaps the biggest change is the increasing option for employees to work from home. Not only does this reduce commuting carbon emissions, it also decreases office energy consumption. While this change became a necessity for several companies during the Covid-19 pandemic, many have chosen to either enact it completely, or limit staff time in the office through hybrid working.

However, working from home also entails that employees use more energy in their own homes, so it’s important for employers to ensure that decarbonization and sustainability are still prioritized.

6. Digital documentation

Perhaps the easiest change to recognize is the relative lack of paper documentation. Instead of filing cabinets lining the walls, most companies have transitioned to digitization wherever possible.

Not only does this practice reduce paper waste, it also saves space and cuts down on the energy consumption involved in buying and shipping paper products.

7. Adoption of energy and sustainability data management systems

A simple and effective way for companies to analyze data and study trends in energy use is to use a management system like EnergyElephant. EnergyElephant helps companies track energy consumption and set targets based on historical usage.

Being able to see all of your office's energy, water, and waste data in one place not only helps your company make informed sustainability decisions, it also saves time on analysis and reporting.