May 10, 2013
Many companies are looking for ways to green their offices without building from the ground up. Doing so can help reduce demands on the environment as well as reduce costs for your organization in the long run. Here are five ways we’ve greened our own offices through renovations:
- 1. Install monitoring software to track energy usage in real-time
Installing monitoring software allows owners and employees to track their energy usage and view energy savings in real-time. A dashboard such as the Lucid Building Dashboard® system used by DPR’s offices in San Diego, Phoenix, Raleigh Durham and Newport Beach allows employees to track their use of electricity, water and natural gas. The dashboard tells users exactly how much energy is being used hour by hour in terms of total electricity as well as the amount of solar energy being produced so that users can meet—or even surpass—sustainability goals.
- 2. Use outside air to cool your building
Natural ventilation systems use outside air to keep buildings cool, reduce energy, and lower costs. Our San Diego office’s natural ventilation system (like operable windows) cools our office and it helped us achieve net-zero energy status, meaning we generate as much or more energy than we consume.
- 3. Install Solatubes® to reduce the need for artificial light
Windows and natural light reduce the need for electric lighting and the costs associated with it. The expansive windows and 82 strategically placed Solatubes® in our Phoenix office nearly eliminate the need for artificial daytime lighting all year long.
- 4. Install a photovoltaic canopy over your parking lot
A photovoltaic-covered parking canopy generates power from the sun that offsets a building’s energy usage and cools cars under in the canopy all at the same time. Generating even one kilowatt-hour prevents 170 pounds of coal from burning, protects 105 gallons of water from consumption, and saves 300 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere each month. Our Phoenix office’s photovoltaic-covered parking controls the indoor environment naturally and produces energy onsite, generating 180,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year.
- 5. Install a vampire shut-off switch
Phantom energy accounts for nearly six percent of our country’s energy consumption, costing the U.S. billions of dollars in expenses and wastes unnecessary energy. Phantom energy happens when a device consumes energy even when it’s turned off (i.e., computer monitors, TVs, or cell phone chargers).
Install a vampire shut-off switch to disconnect phantom-plug loads, saving money and energy. In our Phoenix office, the switch disconnects 90 percent of plug-loads at the end of each workday. The last person exiting the building is responsible for activating this switch.
Which one of these energy-saving techniques is most interesting to you? Let us know in the comments.