With energy prices on the rise, organisations are trying to find ways to reduce their energy usage now more than ever. But, alongside reducing costs, a reduction in energy use can also contribute to decreasing your organisation’s carbon footprint and overall environmental impacts.
By engaging your staff in reducing your energy consumption you’re more likely to see positive and sustained reductions in usage. What’s more, with the cost-of-living crisis and the rise in hybrid working, your employees will also be looking at ways to reduce their home energy use and will likely welcome any support and advice on this.
We’d recommend starting by recruiting a group of enthusiastic environmental champions from across your organisation. Put a call out to all teams for interested volunteers to help drive forward your organisation’s environmental initiatives and objectives. It doesn’t have to take a huge amount of commitment or time. We’ve found that if there is representation across all offices and teams, coupled with an effective workplan and regular group meetings, a group of environmental champions can help your organisation achieve positive change.
The most effective way to improve your office’s energy efficiency is to first understand how and where energy is used. Work with the environmental champions group to carry out an energy audit. Your audit should take into account all possible energy use across the office and should assess:
- Gas and electricity usage
- Your office lighting setup (e.g., lightbulbs, timers, positioning)
- The equipment your teams use and its energy rating
- Energy efficiency drivers such as building insulation
Once you have carried out your audit, you will have a better understanding of your office’s energy usage and efficiency and you can start to put together a plan. Some things will be well within your organisation’s control and shouldn’t have significant cost implications. For example, if your audit flags up that you have inefficient light bulbs, then you can replace them with more energy efficient ones. Other changes might take time to introduce, particularly if you don’t own your office building. For example, your team might have identified that your premises has an inefficient boiler installed. It is worth speaking to your landlord in the first instance to see if they would consider replacing this with an electric boiler, a heat pump, or at the very least a more energy efficient gas boiler. If these aren’t an option, you could instead put your thermostat to work ensuring that heating is regulated and only comes on during office hours. Reducing the ambient temperature by a couple of degrees will also reduce your overall energy use and bills.
So, you’ve got your team of environmental champions together to help make positive change and you’ve carried out your office energy audit. Now start informing your wider teams on how you plan to reduce energy use. Put up posters around the office with top tips, for example a poster next to the kettle in the kitchen suggesting colleagues only boil the amount of water they need for their brew. Recruit individuals from your various teams to be responsible for making sure all monitors, printers, chargers, and lights are switched off at the wall at the end of the day. Better yet, hold a department competition and provide incentives to teams who come up with creative ways to reduce their energy use. Remember, engaging your staff in reducing your office’s energy use will be far more effective than trying to direct changes from the top down.
Working from home
Post-pandemic, hybrid working models have become more common, with many employees spending part of their week working from home. This comes at a time when energy prices have skyrocketed and undoubtedly employees will also be looking at ways to reduce their energy usage at home. Emissions generated by employees working from home are increasingly being captured within a organisation’s carbon footprint. Start by talking to your staff about their options for switching to renewable energy tariffs at home and try to encourage them to do so where it is financially viable. As a organisation, you might not be able to provide financial support to help your staff meet rising bills, but you could consider providing advice on ways to address and reduce their energy use whilst working from home. Ask colleagues to share the ways in which they’ve reduced their energy use and circulate these in your staff newsletter. We’ve had some great tips from colleagues including DIY ways to draft proof their windows and recommended products to stay warm during particularly chilly spells.
These are just some of the ways you might try to reduce your organisation’s office energy use and support employees to do the same at home. Doing so, you’ll likely both reap the benefits financially whilst reducing your carbon footprint at the same time.
How we can help?
Here at mdsustain we can help you go further in ensuring your organisation is making practical and positive environmental changes. We offer both sustainability packages and single solutions. Our packages are tailored to your organisation’s unique context and are designed to help you to understand, assess, improve, and communicate your sustainability. Our single solutions include conducting a carbon footprint assessment for your organisation and helping you to identify effective energy efficiency measures within your overall carbon reduction strategy. For more information, contact one of our sustainability specialists at email@example.com.