Concern and respect towards the environment play a more and more important role in nowadays society, therefore new alternatives are searched in order that the daily activity of companies, factories and even households provoke as little damage as possible to our ecosystem and citizens.

According to recent information from the Guide to Energy Saving and Efficiency in Offices, buildings assume up to 40% of world energy consumption, a very increased figure to which special attention would need to be put if we wish to reduce pollution and CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

Derived from this high energy consumption level, a new model of offices emerges, ecological or eco-friendly offices.

What do eco-friendly offices involve?

Some of the changes eco-friendly offices have carried out:

  • Performing an energy audit. Being aware in detail of the energy consumed is essential, as well as the deficiencies that might exist in the building itself and the equipment or lighting systems. Many buildings suffer from great temperature loss due to doors, windows or the building envelope itself. If we get to know the origin of such leaks, a set of measures can be taken: replacing conventional doors with automatic doors (particularly at the building entrance); replacing the existing windows with others double-glazed and a thermal bridge break; repairing the building envelope in the event that there are cracks, or enhancing it with insulation materials.
  • Recycling. Offices all over the world make use of millions of tons of paper per year. It is estimated that for each ton of paper that is recycled, the cutting down of 24 trees is avoided. If, besides this measure, buildings are designed according to “green-building” standards, the day their useful life comes to its end, their components will be recycled and/or used to reduce the remains and pollution.
  • Besides recycling the used paper, it is convenient to work whenever possible through the Internet. The use of emails or data store into “the cloud” results in ink, electricity and paper savings.
  • Replacement of traditional luminaries with LED systems. One of the greatest office expenses comes precisely from the use of artificial light. It is estimated that traditional light bulbs have a useful life of approximately 1,000 hours and their electric consumption can reach up to 70% more than LED light bulbs; besides, the useful life of LED luminaries is of about 30,000 hours, and in consequence there is a cost recovery in a very short period of time.
  • Making more use of natural light in winter as well as installing sunshades, shutters and curtains aimed to isolate the building interior in summer.
  • Cross ventilation. Open opposite windows in order to have streams of natural air within the office. This measure will not only entail savings in terms of energy use, but it will also enhance health and comfort of those making use of the facilities.
  • Replacing air conditioning and ventilation systems, computers, printers, etc., with more efficient equipment. Currently, equipment with an A+ grade energy label guarantees lower consumption, and if besides periodic inspections suggested by the manufacturer are conducted, not only their useful life will lengthen, but energy consumption will also decrease.
  • Adjusting the thermostat temperature according to the time of year. The variation of one single degree in air conditioning systems entails an extra cost of up to 8% in the energy bill. Temperature in interior office spaces should be set up at about 21ºC in winter and 26ºC in summer.
  • Avoiding leaving equipments in standby mode. Additional cost depends upon the number of devices left in sleep mode, and it is estimated that such extra cost may reach up to 10% in each bill.
  • Making use of products harmless to the environment when cleaning up the office. Cleaning products are damaging to the ecosystem since they pollute the water systems of the area, but they are also damaging to human health due to the high amount of volatile chemical substances they contain.

On the other hand, employees can also contribute to making offices greener and more sustainable by bringing their own cup and avoiding this way the use of throw-away cups, or coming to office by public transport, or bicycle, or sharing their vehicle, or making use of hybrid or electric sub-compact cars.

It is not always mandatory to make huge investments to conduct significant changes. Office buildings can through small gestures reduce energy consumption, the emission of damaging particles and the use of raw materials.

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