Trim Your Business Costs by Going Green - Part 1

Modern office operations in both home or corporate environment place a significant load on natural resources, notably on energy and paper products.

Although some businesses are adopting environmentally responsible practices, there still remains much to be done to improve environmental performance. The most common obstacle is the misconception that it costs more to be environmentally responsible, with ignorance and misinformation running close behind.

I hope that by highlighting significant aspects of the modern office where efforts can be made to reduce waste, managers and staff can make informed environmentally responsible choices when purchasing machinery and materials for their workplace.

Let’s take our first baby step towards a more environmentally responsible office by starting with lighting.


1. Go for lighting only with a luminous efficacy exceeding 60 lumens/W.

Most modern fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), metal halide lamps and high pressure sodium lights fall into this category, but it never hurts to double check and confirm the rating.

2. Harness technology

In all workplaces, there are areas that are not used continuously, commonly meeting rooms, computer rooms, conference areas, storerooms, pantry and even the rest rooms.

Consider the use of an automatic lighting control system to avoid the use of lighting when not needed. Photo sensors can be used to regulate lighting intensity according to ambient daylight. Occupant sensors can switch off lights when areas are unoccupied for a preset period of time.

Offices with a smaller budget can use simple timers in place of an automatic lightning control system to switch off lights during non-office hours.

Perhaps the cheapest method is to place a simple message in a prominent place near the exits to remind staff to switch off the lights & heating/cooling system.

A little background..

Fluorescent lamps and high intensity discharge lamps require ballasts to provide starting voltages and regulate operating currents.

If it isn’t economically viable for the business to switch to electronic ballasts, power reducers can also be used to decrease light output to save energy while increasing magnetic ballast life of traditional magnetic ballasts. The greener alternative would be to use electronic ballasts in place of conventional magnetic ballasts. Although they are more expensive, electronic ballasts consume up to 15% less energy than traditional ones, are dimmable , quieter, do not flicker, best of all, they can drive 4 (instead of 2) lamps.

Photo Credit

2 Responses to “Trim Your Business Costs by Going Green - Part 1”

  1. While conserving electricity by turning off lights is important, there are other, not as obvious, electric costs by certain small businesses.

    Those include heating water, a cost often overlooked. But for some operations — lodging, health care, restaurants, laundries, condos, etc. — electric-resistance water heating can account for 20-40% of overall energy use. The EPA reports that cost can now be cut by 75% with a commercial hot water geothermal heat pump.

    The system, developed by EarthLinked Technologies, can be retrofitted into existing systems. It is more reliable than wind or solar produced electricity and has a shorter pay-back period (within 3 years for businesses that use 2000 gallons a day). The EPA reports that the EarthLinked system achieves 400% efficiency — producing 4 units of heat for each unit it needs to operate. No traditional water heating systems reach even 100% efficiency.

    With increasing support (federal, state and utility), the time may finally have come for ground source heat pumps to finally get an equal place at the renewable energy table. After all, both the EPA and DOE have called it the most energy efficient and reliable source of heating and cooling space. They can now — at least for big users — add heating water to that accolade.

  2. @C.W.Wolff - Thank you for your valuable comment. While this is only the first part of a planned write-up, I do admit that I had overlooked heating costs as it is something I do not come across often.

    I will be sure to keep this in mind should I gather enough material for a substantial write up in future.

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