Journyx has had much success with customers in the field of energy, such as Kissimmee Utility Authority. But what if your company's goal is to go "off the grid"?
Following is a guest post from Brent Hardy to give you tips on a more energy-efficient office.
Five Steps to Take Your Office Off The Grid
Anyone in business knows how to make money: increase revenue and decrease expenses. But doing the latter by eliminating the electricity bill? Yes, it seems like a dream, but with developments in technology coupled with growing concerns about the depletion of our natural resources and climate change, going completely off the grid may soon become a reality for many forward thinking companies. It is called net-zero energy consumption.
Office buildings in developed countries consume approximately 40% of the world's energy. This is a staggering number, and one that business leaders are looking to change with net-zero energy consumption in both new and existing buildings. A perfect example of this movement is La Jolla Commons in San Diego, California, which will be completed in 2014 and will be the United States' largest net-zero office building to date.
Interested in moving your office toward a net-zero energy model? To do so, you must combine energy-conscious employees, innovative technology, and a combination of intelligent design and construction. Following are five steps to take your office off of the grid.
1. Create an Energy-Conscious Team: Any office can become greener with energy-conscious employees. It is important that they:
Turn off appliances when not in use
Turn off computers and other technical equipment rather than allowing them to "sleep"
Make sure that the windows and doors are fully shut
Turn off the lights when not in the room
Recycle whenever possible
While this won't eliminate the office's energy consumption, it is the simplest means to reduce the impact on the environment and a necessary step on the path to becoming a net-zero energy office.
2. Purchase Energy-Efficient Appliances and Equipment: Even with energy-conscious employees, it is nearly impossible for a functional office to shut down each appliance or piece of equipment when it isn't in use. With that being said, it is possible to reduce the amount of energy that is needed by purchasing energy-efficient appliances. Purchase refrigerators, dish washers, microwaves, copiers, and other equipment that meet stringent energy consumption guidelines. Increased sharing of office equipment, such as printers, further decreases the amount of energy required to keep an office operating at full-tilt.
3. Recycle Water: Most offices have secondary water needs (apart from bathrooms and drinking), whether to keep the lawns green or to add charm in decorative fountains. Recycling gray water and rainwater is yet another step toward creating a net-zero office building.
4. Fuel the Office with Solar Energy: The first three steps can reduce consumption in the office, but creating energy is an essential step in taking your office off of the grid. Solar photovoltaic systems provide energy that fuels net-zero buildings and everything in them. These can be constructed on a rooftop or in a field, and the array can generate massive amounts of energy.
If the building uses more energy than it makes, it can tap into traditional energy sources, albeit with a lower impact, particularly if using a "smart" electrical system. But if a building uses less energy than it generates, it can send excess back to the grid, essentially "paying back" any electricity that it has used. Additional solar equipment can further decrease energy use, like solar water heaters. Solar thermal panels create heat that warms the water in a water heater's reservoir and fills the tank to replenish water used for sinks or baths.
5. Invest in Smart Design and Construction: The most intensive part of creating a net-zero office building is in its design and construction. Designing and building an office – or remodeling an existing office – using the net-zero energy model begins with a more efficient and sometimes unique layout, including an open floor plan to prevent hot and cold pockets. These buildings boast thicker walls, more insulation, and low-emittance window coatings that reduce energy used to heat and cool the inside. They also include more windows than standard buildings to reduce the need for artificial lighting. Advanced technologies, like geothermal systems and radiant heating, reduce the building's need for energy to facilitate heating and cooling.
Net-zero office buildings are still on the rise, but advances in technology and growing environmental consciousness is making green living and working easier and more affordable. And this concept doesn't apply only to commercial spaces. Net-zero energy homes are becoming more prevalent, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, MD, has even built the Net-Zero Residential Test Facility that will help determine if net-zero technologies are ready for mainstream neighborhoods.
With momentum growing in the net-zero movement, it is only a matter of time before business and residences are able to affordably go "off-the-grid."
About the Author:
Brent Hardy implements sustainability programs for www.extraspace.com. The Extra Space self storage facility in Fontana is reducing its energy consumption by adopting sustainability practices like those described in this article.