How to Design an Eco-Friendly Office
Offices and commercial buildings consume about one fifth of England’s nationwide energy production. For those looking to transplant low impact living practices into their work lives, designing an energy-efficient office can lessen your environmental impact. Eco-friendly designs incorporate finding the right location, and carefully selecting equipment and building features. Windows, climate control and office equipment all contribute to the creation of an eco-friendly office.
If you’re designing a new building, you need to start from the top. Consider whether it’s feasible to install a ‘green roof’. Green roofs use a living layer of plants, grass or other vegetation on top of the building to provide insulation. These roofs are great for summer and winter: in the warmer months, they moderate excessive outdoor heat; in the cooler months, they retain heat. Although green roofs cost more to install than standard roofs, they save money long-term by reducing energy consumption.
Smart Climate Control
To reduce unnecessary energy consumption, install programmable thermostats which allow employees to control temperature settings room-by-room. Climate control in unused spaces such as empty conference rooms and vacant offices can be switched off, and the system can be set up to turn itself off at night and at other times when the office is empty. If you need to install new climate control equipment, try and purchase systems with the EU Energy Star certification. Maintaining an environment with a stable climate can save on expensive energy spikes at peak times during the day.
Invest in energy-saving computers – you should look for the Energy Star label as a guarantee. Once installed, make sure the machines are set up to ensure optimum efficiency. You can use the operating system software to manually adjust the power-management options, setting them up so that monitors switch off after periods of inactivity, and desktop systems hibernate at the end of the day and when employees are out. Estimates suggest that smart power management alone can cut costs by more than £45 per computer per year.
Windows and Shades
With some clever window shopping, outdoor heat can be blocked from entering buildings in the summer, reducing the need for air conditioning, whilst retaining heat inside the building during the colder months, saving on central heating. A number of variables influence window energy characteristics, so it’s a good idea to conduct extensive research or consult with an expert to find the most efficient mix of window features for your location and needs. As a rule, south-facing windows tend to admit the most exterior heat. Shades can also play their part, as they can be used to adjust heat and light entry throughout the day. Rather than adopting a broad-brush stroke, consider each location in the office separately, as different locations can benefit from different types of windows.
Smart lighting can help to save a massive amount of energy. Automated systems including timers, motion detectors and photosensors can activate lighting as needed throughout the workday, and can ensure that rooms are unlit when empty or brightened by natural light. You should also consider the light bulbs you use in your automated system; fluorescent bulbs use less energy than standard incandescents. To reduce your reliance on artificial lighting, make sure that your office is designed to take advantage of natural light – the more windows you have, the more natural light will come flooding into your office space.
If you’re building experience is limited, don’t put your plans on hold – contact a company such as The Garden Escape for some help. Custom eco buildings are quick and easy and take the design elements out of your hands – the perfect solution if you are inexperienced or can’t afford an architect that is knowledgeable about sustainable and eco-friendly spaces. Whether you are looking for a home office or to build several offices to house your company, ready-made eco buildings are a cost effective solution. Eco-friendly office spaces are not a job for tomorrow, but for today. Be an inspiration and create a space that inspires.