Athena’s Holistic Approach to Zero Carbon Enterprises
The high upfront cost of retrofitting solutions or installing new equipment is often cited as a reason to defer or call off energy efficiency initiatives. However not all sustainability initiatives require capital expenditure – here are 10 low-cost or no-cost ways some of our clients have integrated energy efficiency in their business operations:
1. Understand your energy breakdown through utility bills
You do not have to conduct an energy audit, whether manual or virtual, to identify consumption patterns. Look at your store and monthly electricity bills to identify major areas of energy consumption, check the conditions and operations of different equipment, or conduct monthly experiments to identify how your power consumption changes as the switch-on times of different machines are changed. This will help you cost-effectively identify energy-saving opportunities through existing data.
2. Compile an energy checklist & benchmark your monthly progress
Create an action plan for energy-saving initiatives that can be easily implemented, such as turning off non-essential lighting and using energy-saving thermostat settings. Compile an energy checklist that includes these actionable and conduct daily reviews at different hours to ensure they are being enforced. For example, simply conducting night-time audits to identify which equipment is switched off after business hours has helped buildings save over 5% of energy consumption.
3. Focus on HVAC operations
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems often consume the most energy in C&I operations. To reduce some of these costs easily, managers can adopt low-cost practices such as creating and adhering to a schedule to regularly change or clean HVAC filters during peak cooling or heating seasons; adjusting thermostats for seasonal changes; ensuring vents are not blocked by furniture or paper, and immediately repairing damaged insulation in pipes or equipment as well as potential leaks in compressed air systems.
4. Create and follow monthly maintenance checks for key electrical equipment
Regularly checking and maintaining electrical equipment such as chillers and boilers can help ensure efficient functionality and identify any faults leading to energy waste. Visually inspecting the insulation on piping and equipment can also help identify and address damage such as tears and stains faster. It is, therefore, good practice to create a monthly inspection and maintenance schedule and ensure regular communication between inspectors and facility managers for compliance.
5. Enable the power management function on office equipment
Responsible use of office equipment is an easy way to decrease energy costs. Enable the power management function on computers and laptops so monitors can be put to sleep when not in use, and activate sleep settings office equipment such printers and copiers so they enter a low-powered sleep mode when not in use.
6. Coordinate office equipment operations
Mark electronics with strips to indicate which ones should always be on and which ones can be unplugged when not in use. Group printers, computers, monitors, etc. on easily accessible power strips that can be switched off together when not in use.
7. Appoint an energy management champion or task force
Develop an energy management task force that educates, pursues, and implements energy efficiency initiatives in each department; or ensure that a representative from every department is trained in basic energy-saving practices. Ensure regular communication between the department representatives or members of the task force to keep employees in check and share best practices.
8. Implement everyday sustainability actions through staff training
Educate employees on the impact of their daily actions and how their behavior can change energy consumption and overall operating costs. Integrate information on energy-saving behavior in staff handbooks and corporate training materials to remind team members to stay committed to sustainability and actions that can be easily implemented, such as switching off lights when leaving a room.
9. Provide simple incentives for good energy-saving practices
Reward energy efficiency through initiatives such as a competition between departments for who can achieve the highest energy savings or energy performance per month. This will boost employee engagement and commitment for long term strategies.
10. Use energy-saving design
Position furniture, equipment, and office space in a way that maximizes daylight use, and cover bare floors with rugs to help retain heat during winters. Leave windows, blinds, and shades open during the daytime to heat buildings and close windows at night to stop heat from escaping.
What other low-cost or no-cost options are you taking to save energy in your buildings and homes? Share your experience with us!