When you’re thinking about building efficiency, some obvious suggestions come to mind: turn off the lights, adjust temperatures, and reduce plug load. But there are other green choices you may not think about that can also positively impact your building’s energy management goals.
Choose Laptops When Possible
Although they won’t work for every situation, work with IT to distribute laptops vs. desktops to employees when possible; they use up to 80% less energy than standard desktop computers, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Check on Building Controls
Just because you have controls in place doesn’t mean they work properly. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory recommends setting up HVAC system trend logs to collect data that will indicate whether the systems gointo night setback mode at the right time. If data indicates that the HVAC system comes on at night, find out what’s causing temperatures to go out of
Consider Revolving Doors
Revolving doors can reduce the amount of unconditioned air entering a building by a factor of eight when compared to standard doors. At MIT, for example, the facilities team estimates
that if everyone used the revolving doors in just one campus building alone, the university would save almost $7,500 in natural gas (nearly 15 tons of CO2) per year.
Rethink Computer Settings
It’s a common misconception that screensavers reduce energy. But most screen savers keep monitors running at full power, so it’s more efficient to switch to sleep mode or manually turn them off. Work with IT to ask employees about setting computers to go to sleep after 30 minutes of inactivity (and turning them off when they leave, if possible). According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this can save between $50 and $150 annually per computer.
Replace Linear Fluorescent Lenses
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a clear acrylic prismatic lens over linear fluorescent lamps allows approximately 90% of light to pass through. Replace any lenses that are yellowed or are a milky white color; these lenses can block 20% to 40% of light output. Once they’re replaced, you maybe be able to de-lamp or dim lights accordingly.
Plant Some Trees
Don’t forget that trees can provide two cost-saving, energy-saving benefits: they act as wind breaks and provide natural cooling. In colder climates, trees can reduce wind speeds by 50%, says energy consultant Class 5 Energy. In warmer climates, they significantly cut cooling costs by reducing interior temperatures from three to six degrees. According to the USDA Forest Service, three well-placed trees can save up to 30% of a building’s cooling costs.
Are there other small energy-efficiency changes that we’re missing? Have these initiatives worked to lower your building’s energy usage?