Start by Benchmarking. Evaluating your energy use is the best way to begin. Although you can do this yourself, there are also online tools to aid in the process. The EPA’s Energy Star program, at energystar.gov, offers a set of tools called Portfolio Manager to gauge a company’s energy and water use.
Logout and Shutdown. Unused equipment consumes energy. It also tends to warm your office, pushing up air conditioning costs. Train employees to use energy-saving features; highly efficient Energy Star equipment and appliances often carry no cost premium but use 20 percent to 50 percent less energy. And flip the power switch to off before you leave for the night.
Have a Light-Changing Day. If you are like most people, you change fluorescent bulbs only when one burns out. This is actually the wrong way to do it from an energy-consumption perspective. After a bulb reaches about 80 percent of its rated life, it begins to tax your lighting system, wasting energy. So to reduce your energy bill, save money, and use labor efficiently, you should change all of your bulbs simultaneously, on a schedule. And when you replace them, use T8 tubes and upgrade to electric ballasts, thereby reducing the electric load by 42 percent.
Seal Out the Elements. This is as easy as installing window shades or coating the glass with a heat-blocking film. If you’re really ambitious, you could re-install windows that block the sun and insulate against the ambient temperature.
Cool Down Your Roof. A cool roof uses highly reflective materials to lower surface temperatures by up to 100 degrees. Cool roof systems work best on shorter buildings in sunnier climates. Energy Star’s roofcalc.com will help you estimate the potential cost savings.
Improve Your Heating and Cooling Systems. Retrofitting your heating-and-cooling systems can reduce your building’s energy consumption by as much as 40 percent because many older systems are oversized and inefficient. Opt for a newer unit that is just as powerful (if not more so), and more compact. If you can’t replace your HVAC system, improve it with a variable speed drive to control the motor’s speed.
Recommission Building Systems. Because buildings degrade over time, they should be retested or “re-commissioned” every 3 to 5 years. A Department of Energy-sponsored study found doing so would produce energy reductions up to 15 percent. You’ll probably need to bring in an energy auditor for this one. If you rent your space, ask your landlord to foot the bill.