Reducing your building’s carbon footprint might not be a priority of yours, but perhaps it should be. The term “carbon footprint” refers to the amount of carbon dioxide and methane emissions from a certain population, system, or activity. Your building’s carbon footprint is evidenced not only in the construction of the building but in the habits of the people who work there. Let’s look at some of the reasons why you should consider reducing your building’s carbon footprint, and some actions you can take to do so.
Why Reduce Your Building’s Carbon Footprint?
Save Money in the Present—When you reduce your energy usage, you’re saving money. By making small changes in your heating/cooling (we’re talking keeping your thermostat one degree lower in winter and one degree higher in summer), you can see big savings— as much as a 10% reduction in power usage. Simply replacing your building’s bulbs with CFL’s or switching off any equipment that’s not currently in use can make a difference. If you want to fully commit to reducing your energy usage, request an energy audit from your utility company; many offer them for free.
Save Money in the Future—Yes, some of the recommended updates will cost you upfront; actions such as upgrading outdated equipment with energy efficient models or installing solar panels are particularly pricey. However, in the long run, these actions will not only save you money by reducing the energy you use but they could result in tax breaks come April.
Appeal to Potential Employees—Many people are concerned about working in a building that’s not just a good place to work, but also a green place to work. Reducing your building’s carbon footprint will prove to these folks that you’re committed to doing your part for the environment. Millenials, in particular, are very interested in ensuring that their employers are just as green as they are.
Appeal to Potential Customers—It’s not just your employees who are interested in your building’s carbon footprint; there are some customers who prefer to work with businesses who are actively working toward greener business practices.
Improve Your Property Value—Improving your building will increase the value of your property. Making these improvements with an eye toward reducing your building’s carbon footprint will not only increase your property value, but it will also be a great selling point should you ever decide to put your building on the market.
Increase Your LEED Scores—If you’re interested in pursuing LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Certification, reducing your building’s carbon footprint is a step in the right direction. The LEED certification requires that you earn points through high performance in certain areas pertaining to human and environmental health; buildings with LEED certification are highly coveted in the real estate market.
Improve Employee Morale—When you work toward reducing your building’s carbon footprint, your employees understand that their health and wellbeing is of the highest importance to you. Sick Building Syndrom, or SBS, refers to a non-specific illness that strikes people who spend a significant amount of time in a building; SBS is traced to issues in the building’s HVAC system or from contaminants that are released from non-green building materials. Taking steps to make your building green means that you are ensuring your employees will be safe from harmful issues that lead to SBS.
Taking Steps Toward Reducing Your Building’s Carbon Footprint
You’ve decided it’s in your best interest to make your workplace greener; how do you do it? We’ve got some tips to help you decrease the size of your carbon footprint. Good news—they’re simple, and they’re not just good for the environment. In many cases, they’ll help your bottom line, too!
Reduce Your Energy Consumption—As we mentioned before, simply raising or lowering your thermostat even one degree will make a big difference in your building’s energy consumption. Other ways you can reduce your carbon footprint include using the hibernation feature on your computers and laptops, minimizing your artificial lighting and implementing more natural light like skylights, and installing motion activated lights indoors to ensure that the lights are only on when there’s someone in the room.
Introduce Recycling—Sure, you should recycle paper and metal products, but you should also look into recycling your electronics when they’ve reached the end of their usefulness. As you investigate e-recycling companies, ensure that there’s a data-wiping procedure to remove any sensitive data from your devices. You can also find places to recycle plastic, and you can even explore your options for donating any office furniture that you no longer use.
Reduce Your Paper Usage— In this age of email and electronic communication, you really don’t need to use much paper at all. Encourage your employees to do as much communicating as possible virtually, so they’re not using as much paper as business required in the past. Additionally, you can route your faxes so that they arrive electronically, making it more efficient and more environmentally friendly as well.
Watch Your Water Consumption—Water is a valuable resource, particularly in drought-prone parts of the company. Any opportunity to reduce your business’s water consumption should be embraced. For example, you can upgrade your restrooms to efficient flush toilets and automatic water faucets to decrease the amount of water used there. Another way to save on water consumption is to partner with a cleaning company that uses up-to-date equipment designed to use less water. For example, many carpet extractors and auto-scrubbers need much less water than they did just a few short weeks ago.
Consider Your Floorplan—When you’ve got hot equipment sitting near cooling vents, it’s a recipe for disaster. You’re forcing the cooling system to work harder than ever to cool off a bit of square footage that’s hotter than the rest of the office. Not only does this make the whole office uncomfortably cool, but it’s a tremendous waste of energy.
As you implement these methods for reducing your building’s carbon footprint, track your energy savings. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised to learn how these changes have benefited your business. Next, publicize the fact that you’re taking steps to make your building greener; you’ll get positive exposure in the local marketplace, which will not only attract tenants, but also employees. Your steps to help the environment will also help your business. That’s a win-win!