You can reduce your energy bills and your carbon footprint simultaneously, saving money and helping the environment. Evalue8 Sustainability’s software calculates greenhouse gas emissions and provides suggestions on how to reduce them that are likely to be cost effective for its customers. However, we find there is a lot of general advice that works for nearly all small businesses working in leased accommodation. This article provides 5 tips to get you started on your energy efficiency journey.
You can reduce your carbon footprint by:
- avoiding emission-producing activity
- reducing the amount of emissions an activity produces, or reducing the amount of that activity
- changing the source of the energy used to one that has less impact on the environment.
Tip 1: Start measuring your energy use and emissions.
You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Evalue8 Sustainability’s software will analyse your activities, based on information in your accounting software, and work out how these contribute to your energy bill and to your greenhouse gas emissions, so you know where to focus your energy efficiency efforts. Alternatively, you can find what you need to know by looking at:
- the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Greenhouse Gases Protocol
- the Australian National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme legislation
- ISO 14064-3: Greenhouse Gases
- the Climate Active Program.
(Evalue8 Sustainability’s software is compliant with all of these.)
Installing a smart meter will also help you with this, enabling you to change when you undertake certain activities to make better use of off-peak and shoulder pricing instead of peak pricing.
Installing controlled load circuits (which enable a meter for a particular device) may also be appropriate if you have a single or small number of machines or functions that account for most of your energy use (for example, underfloor heating, if you operate a hotel).
Tip 2: Choose energy efficient light bulbs
At present, light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs are the best for both energy efficiency and reducing emissions.
Tip 3: Investigate installing a programmable thermostat
Programmable thermostats can help you cut your heating and cooling costs. If you have one installed, you should use it to keep your office temperature in the range that maximises productivity. For Australia, for a sedentary work force, that is between 20 and 26 degrees Celsius. Cooler countries may prefer 18 to 24 degrees, and hotter ones higher temperatures. Set the office temperature at the high end of this range (23-26 for Australia) in summer, and at the low end (20-22 for Australia) in winter. Fit heating and cooling with timers so that temperature adjustment occurs only when people are present. Drop the temperature by one to two degrees if the humidity is high, or if you have a workshop where staff are exerting physical effort.
Tip 4: Ask your staff to help you fight climate change
In July 2020, a survey conducted by the Australia Institute found 82% of Australians are concerned about climate change resulting in more bushfires, so most workplaces respond well to a simple request for assistance in fighting climate change. The number of people concerned about climate change is rising in the developed world generally. Engaged staff are more likely to make behavioural changes. Be specific about what you would like them to do and give them what they need to do it. For example, ask staff to turn off equipment when not in use to reduce standby energy consumption, but provide power strips so they have only one switch to turn everything off and on.
Tip 5: Consider whether you have the right amount of floor space
The Building Code of Australia requires 10 square metres per person of office space. This includes primary, secondary and tertiary spaces. 12-14 is usual, and 14-20 is common where privacy is required (such as in legal offices and medical rooms). If you use more space than you need, you are paying for more heating and cooling as well as office space.
There are many other savings specific to certain business types. To advise on these requires a greater understanding of your particular business.
Using Evalue8 Sustainability’s software is a great way to obtain this understanding. Report on your energy use and carbon emissions by source, by month, quarter, or year, and track how the changes you make impact on these.