You might have heard about the Energy Department’s recent decision to set aside funds to help improve the energy efficiency of commercial buildings. It’s great that they want to get involved and to encourage companies to “green up” their operations and facilities. The government, though, can’t do everything.
Not every company that wants a reduction in it’s carbon footprint is going to get a grant from the government to help that happen. That does not mean, though, that you shouldn’t still make eco-friendly changes if you can afford to do so, especially since most of those environmentally friendly changes aren’t all that expensive...when you factor in the amount of money you’ll save on your utilities and supplies over the long term.
Here are some of the most common and cost efficient things you can do to increase your company’s eco-friendliness:
Switch Out Your Lighting
It’s true that fluorescent lights use less power than incandescent lights and that CFL bulbs require less power (and have longer lifetimes) than fluorescent bulbs. CFL bulbs are not, however, the most energy or cost efficient lighting options on the market. Currently that title belongs to LED lighting. LED light bulbs cost more at the outset, it’s true, but they save you more in the long run. LED light bulbs offer the most wattage for the least amount of power. They also last years longer than the average CFL bulb, which means that you can recoup your original lighting investment (often) within your first year of use. It isn’t just desk lamps and overheads that should be switched out for LED bulbs. Companies like AM Conservation Group also offer LED lighting for a variety of other fixtures and appliances.
Reduce Your Water Consumption
There are simple changes that you can make to slightly reduce your company’s water consumption. Installing low-flow faucets in your breakrooms and bathrooms is a good start. If you really want to reduce your water consumption and the energy it takes to heat that water (you don’t want your employees washing their hands in ice cold water, do you?), there are two things that you need to do:
- You need to install low flow toilets and urinals in your company bathrooms.
- Make the change to a tankless water heating system.
Federally, the tax relief for these changes is set to expire but some states will still offer rebates and credits at their local levels. Check with your accountant to see what is available in your area.
If you have landscaping outside of your offices or commercial buildings, consider switching it out for less water-dependent options. A lot of companies are switching to container plants and bark chips instead of flowerbeds and lawns. When you make these switches you can turn off your outdoor sprinkler system and reduce your company’s water consumption by quite a lot.
Upgrade Your Heating and Cooling System
Your company’s HVAC system is a giant energy leech. This is especially true if your building is older and you haven’t done more than basic maintenance for a while. At least 20% of your energy bill comes from the amount of energy you eat up trying to regulate the temperature and air flow in your offices and commercial properties. If you don’t make these changes that amount will only increase. This is because every year the standards by which air quality is measured and evaluated get stricter.
Ripping out your current HVAC system and installing something more ecologically friendly is going to be expensive. There is no doubt about that, but it is in your company’s best interest to do so if the system you have now is old and out of date. This isn’t just true environmentally. It’s also true from a legal and budget standpoint. The last thing you need is for an inspector to fine you for not being up to code! Those fines could cost more than the installation of the new system!
These are some of the bigger things you can do to improve your company’s energy efficiency. There are a ton of other, littler, things you can do as well!