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  • Writer's pictureThe Just Audit team

Part 4: The sustainable building – working smarter



Any built environment, both traditional work premises and home offices, can benefit from some tweaks to improve overall sustainability. For this article we’re looking at things you can do in terms of physical changes to your building that will be better for the environment. As these changes usually result in lower costs it’s likely to be a win-win situation – one for your business finances and one for the environment.

 

Power off… There are so many ways to reduce your energy bill at work. You’ll probably be aware of lights left on in unused spaces or electronic devices left in sleep mode overnight and at other times of the day when they’re not being used. Some businesses even have printers and tech that are plugged in and never used! Check the devices that are no longer needed, then unplug and recycle them. Note: some IT departments do recommend sleep mode for your computers unless they are not going to be used for a long time – ask what is best for your equipment.

 

A lightbulb moment… Most places now use 100% LED lightbulbs as opposed to the increasingly redundant CFLs. You can do a quick check of your workspace to make sure you are benefiting from long-lasting and more efficient LEDs. They are a more expensive option initially but more than pay for themselves as they last for several years. You could consider installing light sensors in low footfall areas including bathrooms, little used corridors and storage areas.

 

Heat… temperature control is always contentious! There are those who like it warmer and others who prefer a cooler environment. Importantly, for the purposes of sustainability, it’s a good idea to switch off or reduce the temperature in any parts of the building not in use – where it’s safe to do so. For communal office space, a constant, sensible temperature is standard, turning off (or down) after hours.

 

External lighting… it’s important for both branding, aesthetics and security to have external lighting, especially overnight, but there’s always potential for sensor lights and other simple fixes that might help to reduce your organisation’s light pollution and energy consumption.

 

Water use… water is something that can be overlooked in terms of improving sustainability. Totally taken for granted (until there’s a burst pipe or other issue) water usage can be reduced by introducing dual flush mechanisms on toilets, having push button, sensor or spray head taps, introducing dishwashers in communal kitchens, checking for leaks and educating staff. Of course, the age-old issue of single use plastic water bottles for drinking can be alleviated by having water coolers or water filters installed. Re-useable company water bottles are a nice touch. You can also water any office plants with rainwater collected in an outside water butt.

 

Get everyone involved… hand out the popcorn and gather everyone round to view “Our Planet Our Business” produced by the WWF charity to highlights some of the ways organisations can work together to save money and the planet. It’s a 38-minute film beautifully produced by the people who make David Attenborough’s The Planet and endorsed by the man himself. You’ll find it free to view at ourplanet.com/business.

 

Wherever you work it’s worth taking a fresh look at how you use power, lighting, heat and water – all consumption can nearly always be adjusted to make a difference, even if it’s just a small amount.


 

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