Renovating an office space can be a lengthy and costly process for everyone involved. Energy-saving materials and new green products are a great way to make any space more comfortable, but projects can run into thousands of dollars. Energy saving changes in the work place can be particularly effective, especially where waste heat is involved. Here are key energy saving tasks for any office renovation.
A Professional Energy Audit
The first tip should be to hire a certified energy rater, found in all areas of the country. Their job is to find problems with energy loss and consumption, then suggest useful steps to decrease your energy usage. Some of these concerns include moisture issues, health and safety problems, heating and cooling loss, poor insulation, and inadequate seals around windows and doors. This will give you a good place to start on all of your remodelling needs. Some tasks may seem obvious, but it is worth the cost to hire a fully qualified professional.
The key element of many renovations is aesthetics, especially if renovating a period property or a listed or protected building. Natural timber windows provide an aesthetic and durable presence as well as having a sustainable manufacturing process. If there are any cracks in your existing windows and replacement is not an option you may be able to seal small cracks with weather-stripping and caulking. Doors can also be a drain on your budget by allowing drafts to flow in through the edges. An insulating door kit can be just the trick in keeping that seal solid. If you plan on buying new doors for your renovation, why not spend that little bit extra on doors with high quality seals and making sure you have them professionally fitted. Another idea is to change the direction of your door swing. You will be surprised at the space saved, or how much better it fits the opening.
The Right Ventilation
An attic fan can provide circulation of air in your roof space. This is important for keeping cooler air during summer months, and warmer air in the winter. Recycling this warm air is the perfect way to save on your energy usage and make the most of heat you would usually waste. Offices traditionally can have a large number of computers and people in a smaller space than you would expect in a home. Making use of the excess heat generated by technology and humans is an important part of making your office more environmentally friendly. Ventilation systems that capture and feed this heat back through the building are becoming more and more popular in environmentally friendly offices. Ventilation is key, not only to keeping in air that you want to reuse, but also in expelling air that will damage your space. Exhaust fans are not just for removing odors. They draw out moisture that can create mould on walls. A good exhaust fan is a small investment that could save you from damaging painted and papered surfaces. Bathroom exhaust fans serve the same purpose, only they draw warm moisture from the air before it has a chance to drift onto surfaces, attracting mildew.
The Right Lighting Saves Dollars
It may not seem like a lot, but the energy used for lights adds up. Instead of using a brilliant light that shows you every corner, invest in small LED ceiling or wall lights that only provide light where needed. New canister solar lights are also inexpensive and perfect for creating a skylight of sunshine during the day, and act as free energy at night. A sky light or a large window cannot only offer a cheaper and more energy efficient addition to your lighting, but also allows employees a large amount of natural light which is can improve the working experience.
The largest energy hogs of all are water heaters. By turning down the temperature of your water, the water heater doesn’t have to work as hard to produce hot water, saving energy. Also, if you have an electric water heater, consider switching to gas. Replacing an inefficient water heater with an efficient one can save a large amount of energy and money. If you are trying to improve the efficiency of your office, why not make a list of everything you can think of that uses energy and try to minimize its use. For example, shutting down computers every night instead of leaving on standby or hibernate can make a huge difference, particularly in a large office.
Continue to use your energy audit for fixing areas, in order of importance. Before long, you will have an energy-efficient and comfortable home and workplace, within your budget.
Sean Burton is a marketing executive with George Barnsdale & Sons.