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Energy-Efficient Technology for Office Buildings




Energy-efficient homes have been all the rage for many years, but there’s a newer movement for energy-efficient offices. Whether it’s low-E windows, smart sensors, or high-efficiency HVAC systems, there’s plenty of new energy-efficient technology for office buildings.

Here are a few energy-saving add-ons to include in your new office building, whether it’s new construction or a retrofit of an old space.

Building Management Systems

Just like you can use home automation technology to monitor your thermostats or turn lights off and on, there are building management systems — computer software and monitoring devices — that are made specifically for office buildings.

Smart thermostats and HVAC controls can reduce conditioned and ventilated air to unoccupied parts of the building, they can turn temperatures up and down based on the time of day and day of the week; occupancy sensors can tell when people are in a part of the building and turn lights on and off. And for smaller offices, you can even use voice assistants like Amazon Alexa to control some of these technologies as well.

If you allow people to work remotely, consolidate your daily or mostly-daily workers into the same part of the office, so you can reduce the lighting and HVAC output for the unoccupied spaces.

Lighting

LED lights are more energy-efficient than fluorescent lights, plus they’re warmer and provide more light with fewer watts. You can reduce your wattage while still lighting up the same square footage. These lights last longer than the typical fluorescents, so you don’t have to change them as often. Also, people don’t get headaches or complain about the buzzing like they do with regular fluorescent tubes.

Special lighting controls such as dimmers, occupancy sensors, and daylight sensors can help you control and adjust the light for specific circumstances: dim lights when you have full sunlight streaming in the window, and turn lights off automatically at night and over the weekends.

Don’t forget high-quality energy-efficient light fixtures either. LED-specific fixtures can improve an LED bulb’s performance, making sure they reach their full brightness and reduce any flickering or buzzing that comes from using LED lights in non-LED fixtures.

HVAC

Not only are there new high-efficiency HVAC systems available, it’s important to make sure you have the right size HVAC system. Too big, and you’re wasting energy; too small, and it’s just fighting to keep up with the workload, which also shortens the system’s life.

Make sure you have plenty of exhaust fans in places like bathrooms and in the kitchen as a way to create spot ventilation. That will help improve the effectiveness of your natural ventilation. And consider ceiling fans and even whole building fans to help move the air throughout the office.

Use an energy recovery ventilation system, such as a heat exchanger. These systems reduce energy loss by pulling heat from air that’s leaving the building and putting it into the incoming fresh air. Instead of pumping heated air outside, you’re reusing the actual energy, reducing the furnace’s workload.

Energy-Efficient Roof

A green roof is one example of energy=efficient technology for office buildings.

A green roof is one example of energy-efficient technology for office buildings.

Also called a cool roof or low-E roof, an energy efficient roof will reflect more sunlight and summer heat, which helps the AC run less frequently. For one thing, you can always use a light-colored roof coating. Even basic white paint can have a dramatic effect on reducing the amount of heat that’s absorbed into what is usually a dark roof. But there are better coatings that can provide more heat and energy reflection beyond white roof paint.

Or consider installing a green roof, especially if you have a roof with a flat or shallow pitch. You can get anything from basic plant covering to a working garden, depending on the time and climate. Just like a low-E roof, the plants on the green roof block a lot of the heat and energy from coming into your building, which keeps your AC running a lot cooler.

Office Equipment

Of course, you can’t run an office without office equipment, which is one of the biggest users of electricity in commercial office buildings. According to a Smartwatt.com article, “businesses pay more than $2 billion annually for the electricity consumed by office equipment.

Think of all the computers, photocopiers, printers, and other machines all producing heat. You’re no doubt running your AC just to get rid of all that extra heat. Even when it’s nice and cool outside, you may still be running your AC just to cool your office. (On the upside, you may not have to turn the temperature as high in the winter.)

While Smartwatt recommends getting Energy Star photocopiers that use 40 – 55 percent less energy than standard models, we’ll even go one better: Consider going paperless in your office and use scanners instead of photocopiers. If you need to share documents, email the scanned documents. Store them on servers, and not in filing cabinets. Just cutting down on your paper could help you reduce the amount of space you need, which also cuts HVAC and lighting costs.

Finally, make sure you shut off your computers and monitors at night. It doesn’t hurt the computers to turn them on again each day, and you’ll cut your computer-related energy costs by at least half just by shutting them off each day.

If you want to learn more about building your energy-efficient office, Broadpoint can help you explore different options and technologies to suit your particular needs. To learn more, please visit our website or call us at (302) 567-2100 and let us help you build your own energy-efficient office.

Photo credit: PXHere.com (Creative Commons 0)