LEED Principles For The Everyday Office

As an employee or intern, what can you do to encourage your office to conserve energy?

Energy conservation in the office is a tricky subject. This is perhaps best observed in many local school districts across the country.

To reduce costs, some school districts have started investing in energy conservation agencies who monitor and maintain low energy usage.

These companies begin by helping them establish easy ways of saving energy. Perhaps they suggest toilets that use less energy. These can be installed over time as the old toilets need replacement.

LED lights are a pretty common suggestion. For a minimal cost, the entire building can be retrofitted with LED lighting that uses much less energy.

But then these energy plans begin to face some resistance. The thermostat is the one place where buildings can save the most on their energy costs. It is also the one taboo topic to bring up. Teachers hate being too cold or too warm. Changing the temperature of the workplace by only a few degrees can bring not only huge savings but also countless complaints.

And suddenly it makes sense why they hire these energy consultants as an outside party. If they were an employee, the school principal would likely render their position toothless after the first week.

As an employee, you have to be careful not to cross the line and make the rest of the office mad at you. In fact, most improvement towards energy conservation might have to wait until much later in your career.

However, there might be some ways you can get the ideas into management’s ears. Just don’t expect to get any credit for these ideas because they will likely have to go through multiple decision makers before they are implemented.

  1. The first step is to inquire of housekeeping if they can install recycle bins in the breakroom. This is one of the earliest concepts of conservation, introduced in the 1970’s. If you ask “where’s the recycle bin?” in earshot of the right decision maker like it is a matter of fact thing, it should be pretty easy to encourage your company to take this step. After all, it is one phone call.
  2. Lighting is another excellent place to encourage conservation. Bragging to your coworkers in earshot of the boos about how much saved on your electric bill and how quickly the new LED lights in your house will pay for themselves, should be enough to pique interest. As a bonus, you might be able to convince your coworkers to install them in their houses as well.
  3. The “suggestion box” if your business is lucky enough to have a channel for receiving employee suggestions, this is an ideal way to sneak ideas in. Bonus points if you can talk with key people and find out approximately how much the company will save. For example, calculating the current number of light bulbs, the amount of energy they use, and then including the amount of money collected can help provide the decision makers with useful data they can use to make these more costly changes.
  4. Stay aware of what commercial rebates your local power company offers for companies that upgrade to more energy-efficient options. Sometimes significant rebates or tax credits are available to help business transition more easily. Including these in your proposal can sometimes be all that it takes. You save the company money and find them some free money as well!

We have to acknowledge that we live in a world of flawed humans. Being a constant, friendly reminder that the environment is our mutual home can help encourage new behaviors.