Reducing your carbon footprint should be a priority of every business, no matter the industry. A carbon footprint is your impact on the environment based on the sum of your greenhouse gas emissions. The excess carbon dioxide emissions directly contribute to global warming, causing an increase in temperatures and changes in sea-level patterns that could put plants and wildlife in danger, devastate coastal economies, and cause an onslaught of pollution-related illnesses. Consumers are responding to these atmospheric changes by reconstructing their buying habits based on corporation’s environmental policies.
While there is a pressure to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, doing so can lead to more efficient business practices, massive savings, and a greener business. Major strides have been made in recent years to combat the increasing need for energy, especially in a technology-driven world. If you don’t already have separate bins for garbage and recycling, you should get on that today, but there are new and innovative ways of measuring and directly minimizing your carbon footprint that you can implement. With intelligent building technologies, any business can find ways to become more efficient.
The biggest impact that a business can make to reduce their carbon footprint is to upgrade lighting fixtures. Replacing incandescent bulbs with light emitting diodes (LEDs) is the easiest and most cost-effective step towards becoming a more energy efficient entity. The lifespan of an LED is more than two and half times that of an incandescent. Now that LEDs are less expensive than when they first appeared on the market and are able to give off the same warm, familiar glow of an incandescent bulb, they’re on their way to becoming the default light source.
Besides replacing the bulbs, they can also be turned off more frequently. From a young age on, most of us have been taught to turn off the lights when they’re not in use. This still holds true, but intelligent building technology is making it possible for the lights to do it for you. Automatic sensors can already respond to movement in a room and switch off when there is no activity detected. Intelligent lighting systems can sense not only movement, but temperature and sunlight, to increase or decrease the brightness and amount of lights in use based on the current readings of the room. These energy savings can make a significant impact on an electric bill.
Heating & cooling units account for about half of the energy use in a standard building. It’s important to monitor these machines regularly so they run at full capacity and don’t waste energy. Changing the air filters frequently will help them break down less easily. Not overworking the machines is another way to keep them running at full capacity. Work on reducing the fluctuating of temperatures, so your systems can run more smoothly – the AC unit shouldn’t need to fluctuate more than a few degrees during the day. Curtains or blinds can also help with temperatures. The systems could be working perfectly, but if the insulation is weak, all of that heat could be leaking out or seeping into drafty areas and window cracks. Strengthening the insulation will take some of the load off of heating and cooling units.
Increasing the number of people in your office could be a unique solution. Single-family homes use more energy per person than multi-family homes and buildings, like apartments. Two people can get the same use out of one lit room with facilities. Consider moving to a shared office space, downgrading in size, or closing the office on weekends and holidays.
State and local governments offer financial rebates or tax breaks for environment-savvy practices. This can inform you on what technologies will be most cost-effective, and might reveal that solar panels or wind turbines could be in your business’s future.
Establishing an environment-friendly culture in your office is a fun way to reduce unnecessary energy use. No need to require every employee to eat vegan, but the amount of energy needed to produce the meat we require every year is staggering. Just reducing pork or beef from one meal a week can have an impact, so moving Taco Tuesday to Pizza Friday can still make a difference.
The first step towards reducing your carbon footprint is getting an energy audit to calculate your emissions. Implementing effective carbon management policies can reduce the negative impact of pollution and sustain our environment for future generations.
Luther Garcia is the President and CEO at ECS Global Solutions, a leading provider of integrated building and energy intelligence solutions. ECS Global Solutions was founded to serve the growing needs of businesses seeking cost effective demand side management. Their client base includes Fortune 500 companies in the retail, real estate management, healthcare and financial sectors, as well as municipal and governmental authorities, real estate developers and contractors. Luther has served as the company’s President and CEO since he led its acquisition by Finnergy Global in the Summer of 2013.