Here are some key takeaways on creating eco and budget-friendly workplaces.
1. Don’t underestimate the impact of modernising your premises
In line with the government’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050, ambitious energy efficiency targets are in the pipeline. The 2020 Energy White Paper indicated that commercial properties would be required to achieve an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) rating of at least B by 2030. Consider preparing your property for these future energy targets now to avoid disruption to your day-to-day business in the future. You may see other benefits in terms of fresher air and fewer contaminants, meaning happier, healthier and more productive employees.
2. There are some easy short-term wins if you act now
The first is retro-commissioning: giving your building a tune-up, much like taking your car to a mechanic’s. Making sure everything’s working properly can cut your energy use by about 25%, so the cost of retro-commissioning is often small compared with the benefit. Second, explore low- or no-cost measures. For example, if you still have old incandescent light bulbs, change them to LEDs. If you have leaky windows or doors, replacing them can have a fairly low impact on your business costs but a huge impact in terms of comfort and energy bills.
3. Consider bringing in a specialist to understand your building requirements
How can you know what’s right for your business? Every building is unique so while there are a few general things that will typically improve energy efficiency, a consultant can advise on what will have the most impact for yours. Your local council may offer energy audit incentives – reach out and see what’s available in your area – or consider hiring an energy auditor. A specialist can offer recommendations on quick wins and low-cost solutions, medium-term investments and some longer-term high-benefit investments. It is also worth exploring other resources such as the UK Green Building Council and incentives for business energy.
4. How you behave in a building can make a difference
Visit your premises in the middle of the night and see what’s on. Many business owners would be shocked to see computers or task lamps still on at 2am, for example. Educate your employees about how their behaviour affects energy use and the environmental impact of the building. Have a policy about putting computers to sleep or turning the lights off – or you could make it fun and do a weekly challenge with prizes. One quarter of your energy is based on how you behave in the building, not what the building is, or what the systems are.
5. Important factors to consider when choosing a new business premises
Look at the EPC rating because that tells you how well the building was built. Is it draughty? Is it well insulated? These are things your behaviour cannot change.
Second, what kind of lease would you have with your landlord? Is your landlord motivated to improve energy performance? Explore a green lease, which incorporates clauses where the owner and the occupier undertake specific responsibilities/obligations with regard to the sustainable operation/occupation of a property.
Third, check your ability to control your own heating and cooling. If you’re on the 20th floor and someone on the first floor controls the heat, you could end up overheating.