You may have had a domestic EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) if you have sold or rented out a house, but did you know the same regulations (and benefits!) apply to commercial buildings such as offices, hotels, shops, warehouses, or other commercial buildings.
Getting a commercial EPC can be the first step in helping your employees to understand the need for energy management. If your building receives an energy rating of G, you will be able to show how poorly managed the energy is and work together to make the necessary changes to improve it. The good thing about any EPC is that it not only shows the current energy efficiency rating, it also makes suggestions for how to improve your rating. It even shows the estimated saving in annual energy costs if you make those improvements.
As well as building insulation and energy awareness, there are several other ways you and your employees can make your work environment greener and eco-friendlier.
Set up a sustainability team
If you have employees who are naturally eco-aware and would relish the opportunity to implement more green practices for the whole company, why not appoint them to a sustainability team. The Green Building Alliance has many inspiring articles to kickstart some enthusiasm for lowering energy usage and saving the planet.
The team might consider creating a broader recycling programme or monitoring energy consumption on a monthly basis and making recommendations in line with the commercial EPC results.
Research into staff commutes may suggest a secure bicycle storage shed would encourage more people to cycle to work, or perhaps workmates could car-share.
Fun green challenges
As your workplace becomes more eco-aware, you can introduce new challenges each month, perhaps suggesting employees avoid using disposable cutlery by bringing their own utensils, or only having coffee-to-go in reusable drinks containers. Offer small prizes and make it a fun talking point within the office.
Use more renewable energy sources
We’re not suggesting you install a wind turbine in your staff car park, but there are many easier ways to embrace renewable energy for your office or business. Many energy companies offer green energy plans using energy generated by renewable energy such as wind and solar panels. Just making an enquiry indicates to the power supplier that commercial customers are keen to go green, which could influence their future decisions.
Go paperless – really!
The paperless office has been talked about for decades, yet it is still a chimera. However, challenging your staff to reduce the amount of paper and reports printed out could make everyone think twice before pressing the “Print” button. Could a report simply be read on-screen and filed electronically without the need for a hard copy? If all else fails, try adjusting your printer to print on both sides of the paper to halve paper usage.
Turning off power and lights
Try turning off every light and electronic appliance at the mains switch when staff leave the office each night. Even something as small as a mobile phone charger consumes 0.26 watts of energy when not in use and that increases to 2.24 watts when connected to your phone. At the end of the month, get the sustainability team to check the energy usage and report on the power savings.
You could go one step further and lower the temperature by one degree to reduce central heating fuel, as long as you maintain the minimum temperature guidelines for a comfortable working environment. Similarly you could reduce air-conditioning energy costs in summer by raising the thermostat by just one degree,
Other ways to avoid energy waste include changing filters regularly and installing a Smart thermostat. These can be controlled remotely by smartphone to reduce unnecessary heating or air-con over weekends and bank holidays, for example.
Improve air quality
If you’re serious about making the office eco-friendlier add a little physical green into the office, and make sure you feed and water it regularly. Adding a plant to every desk or windowsill is not just about interior design. Those green leaves work hard to clean the air, absorb carbon dioxide and add oxygen back into the air. There’s another health benefit too. Taking care of plants has been shown to have a therapeutic effect on health, reducing stress and lowering blood pressure.
So, how green is your office? Why not start with a commercial EPC and go from there.