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Seven Suggestions to Operating a Sustainable Office

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People may be surprised to learn about the significant impact the building industry has on the
environment. According to the World Green Building Council, buildings account for about 39%
of the world’s total carbon footprint. Of this, a staggering 28% comes from the day-to-day
operations of buildings.

Understandably, organizations are looking for ways to reduce that 28%. In Connecticut,
Governor Lamont passed an Executive Order that requires state agencies to take steps to
reduce carbon emissions. Top of the list? Buildings and infrastructure. Some measures include
making buildings more energy-efficient, retrofitting zero-carbon heating and cooling systems,
using energy-efficient appliances, and more.

Likewise, companies are looking for ways to efficiently power, light, heat, and cool their offices.
But, where does one start? Below are seven easy, low-cost ideas that you can implement right
now that will help you run a more sustainable office.

1 - Leverage Natural Light

Upgrading to larger windows and installing glass partitions can reduce the need for indoor lights, which saves electricity. Painting your office walls in a light color can also help reflect daylight and further leverage natural light.

2 - Install Motion-Sensing Faucets

Millions of gallons of water are wasted every year as faucets are left running too long or are not entirely turned off after use. Duquesne University determined that the approximate savings of using motion-sensing faucets can be between 60% and 80%. Sensing faucets, also known as touchless faucets, are valuable in personal health and hygiene—especially important today.

3 - Improve HVAC Efficiency

According to the US Department of Energy, about 30% of the energy (and cost) that powers commercial heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) systems is wasted. But there are simple things you can do to improve efficiency. Regularly changing HVAC filters can improve airflow and reduce wasted energy by 5% to 10%. Also, sealing air ducts can improve HVAC efficiency by 20% or more. Of course, if you have older HVAC systems, upgrading to newer systems can improve efficiency by 5% to 20%.

4 - Adjust Your Thermostats

Change the set temperature for your office to require less heating in winter and less cooling in summer. When the building is unoccupied, adjust those settings down and up (5° to 10° F). According to the US Department of Energy & Environment (US DOEE), you can save up to 3% for each degree the thermostat is raised in the summer and lowered in the winter. Programmable thermostats make it easy to automate these settings and save energy.

5 - Upgrade Your Lighting

Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs. Compact fluorescent and LED bulbs last longer than incandescent bulbs and can use about 75% less energy. As your old incandescent bulbs burn out, replace them with one of the other options for a sustainable office that is less expensive to light.

6 - Install Motion-Detection Lighting

Motion-sensing switches ensure lights are turned off when they’re not needed. The sensors draw very little power and have the potential to produce 20% to 25% energy cost savings in open offices. In conference rooms, this can be 45% to 65% savings, according to the US DOEE. Often, the sensors can pay for themselves within a year or two.

7 - Upgrade Your Toilets

Replacing a typical 3.5-gallon toilet with a 1.6-gallon low-flow model could produce a 54% reduction in toilet water use. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), commercial flushometer-valve toilets have flush volumes as high as 3 to 7 gallons per flush. Replacing these toilets with WaterSense labeled flushometer-valve toilets use only 1.28 gallons per flush. According to the EPA, if commercial facilities nationwide replace their toilets with WaterSense models, it would save over 39 billion gallons per year!

Creating a more sustainable office isn’t difficult. Even these simple ideas can have a positive impact. In addition, they demonstrate your commitment to the environment to employees and potential employees. On top of that, a sustainable office can save you money! Why not get started today?

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