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Robert Irving Burns

Reducing Your Office
Carbon Footprint

In an average office building in London, energy use can be roughly broken down into 30% Lighting, 25% Space Heating, 16% Office Equipment, 9% Water Heating, 9% Space Cooling & 11% Other.

Reducing your office’s carbon footprint has three immediate and obvious advantages

1. For building owners, more careful management of your existing systems can result in immediate savings, for example better temperature control, using non-toxic cleaning fluid and an improved quality of air can reduce illness and days off, as well attracting and retaining high quality tenants with first-class green credentials.

2. For tenants, a more stringent management of energy usage, especially for lighting and office equipment such as computers, printers and laptops will realise immediate cost savings with a virtually zero cost to your business.

3. For both owners and employers, displaying a solid set of green credentials will, research has shown, enable you to attract a higher profile of tenants and clients who have similar attitudes towards the environment and who are more likely to do business with you because of it.

For Building Owners

As an initial step, consider bringing in a specialist company to provide a thorough assessment of your energy and office use which will pinpoint the areas in which you can raise awareness of your energy usage.

Lighting – Lighting makes up around 30% of your energy use and significant savings can be made in two obvious ways – first, ensure lights are switched off in rooms that aren’t in use and second, replace low efficiency bulbs with the new style of energy efficient bulbs. They give off far less heat and last longer.

Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning – Wild fluctuations in temperature will mean your systems will run nowhere near optimum levels and where possible, try and use natural heating and ventilation. Clean your air filters regularly and have the entire system serviced annually.

Recycling – Provide recycling bins for paper, plastics, food containers and cardboard and urge all tenants to adopt these practices. There are companies who will collect the recycling on a regular basis from your building.

Cleaning – Switch to non-toxic cleaning supplies and buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste.

For Tenants & Employees

Any changes to a building’s maintenance and operation procedures will require the knowledge and cooperation of the building owner but cost savings from reduced energy use and environmental improvements to workspaces will almost always translate into happier tenants and a more marketable commercial space.

Office Equipment – Office equipment and electronic devices use energy even when they are idle or on stand-by. Make sure all devices – static and portable – make the most efficient use of their power management features, including unplugging laptop power leads and powering down computers at the end of the day.

Lighting – Again, it sounds obvious but switch off lights in rooms not in use and make sure all lights are switched off at the end of the day. You can also install more energy efficient lightbulbs.

Recycle – Encourage your employees to recycle everything they can, from paper, newspapers and magazines, food and drink containers, printer cartridges and even your old equipment at upgrade time. You can also buy high quality recycled printer paper.

Commuting – Ask your staff to consider public transport over the car including cycling to work or car-pooling. You can offer incentives for those who make the switch.

Company Cars – When considering your fleet, look at low-emission models or even hybrid cars. There are tax incentives available and as a practical example for the 2012-13 financial year, if you buy a new car for your business that has CO² emissions of 110 grams or less per kilometre (g/km) driven, or is electric, you can qualify for a 100% first-year capital allowance. This allows you to offset the whole cost of the investment against taxable profits in the year you make the purchase until 31 March 2013.

There are plenty of ways in which you can reduce the carbon footprint of both your building and your operation that will save money and make your business more efficient and streamlined.