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By: Kevin Ahern on August 19th, 2020

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10 Energy Efficient Office Design Ideas

Commercial | Sustainability

US Department of Energy estimates that, with the right improvements, commercial buildings can operate up to 70% more efficiently. Imagine how much money your business could save if you could cut your utility bills by 70%! By improving your building's energy efficiency, you can increase profits and position your business for growth over time.

So which green upgrades are best? You'll get the best ROI from low-cost, high-impact renovations like weather stripping installation and exterior door replacement. Meanwhile, installing energy efficient appliances can cut appliance-related energy costs by as much as 50%. With a combination of affordable and effective upgrades, you can see a dramatic decrease in your utility bills over time.

Energy Efficient Office Design Ideas

Energy efficiency is achieved in many ways. Work with a contractor or an energy assessor to determine which upgrades will make the biggest change to your bottom line. 

1. Install Energy Efficient Doors and Windows

Old doors and windows are often made from inefficient materials, and are plagued by air leaks through cracks and gaps between the door and frame. ENERGY STAR estimates that replacing old doors and windows with energy efficient models can reduce energy usage by as much as 12% annually. You'll see the greatest return on investment at times of year when temperatures are either very cold or very hot.  

2. Replace Light Bulbs

Lighting rebates make replacing inefficient light bulbs more affordable, even for businesses on a tight budget. Replacing light bulbs can be done without replacing fixtures, and can save your business thousands of dollars annually. One case study online shows a theater in New York was able to save $50,000 annually by replacing their light bulbs. What could you save with this kind of upgrade? 

3. Install Occupancy Sensors on Lights

A typical office spends spends about 29% of its electrical energy costs on lighting. Why allow the lights in your bathrooms and conference rooms to remain on when the space is empty? Occupancy sensors turn lights off and on as lights are needed. Some sources estimate you could save up to 50% on lighting charges by installing occupancy sensors in the right spots in your commercial building. 

4. Upgrade Thermostat

Older thermostats are harder to control, have fewer programming options and overall operate less efficiently than newer thermostats. Work with your contractor to install a thermostat with modern programming options to give you more control over the temperature of your commercial space.

5. Upgrade HVAC System 

Air conditioners last about 15 years and, with each year that goes by, they get a little less efficient. If your old air conditioner is in need of replacement, purchase an ENERGY STAR product that's designed to cool your building as efficiently as possible. 

6. Focus on Natural Lighting

Electrical lighting costs money, but natural lighting is free. If you're remodeling or adding on to your commercial building, work with your contractor to install windows that can improve productivity in your indoor spaces while saving you money on artificial lighting. Your contractor can help you decide which type of windows would be appropriate, and where they should be placed to enhance lighting in your commercial space. 

7. Install ENERGY STAR Appliances

When replacing old appliances like your office refrigerator, microwave and dishwasher, look for the ENERGY STAR label before making a purchase. ENERGY STAR products all meet the rigorous standards of the EPA's ENERGY STAR program. 

For example, refrigerators and refrigerator-freezers must be 20% more efficient than required by the minimum federal standard to qualify for the ENERGY STAR label. These standards ensure that ENERGY STAR appliances are among the most efficient on the market. Your business can save hundreds or thousands of dollars over time by installing the right appliances.

8. Cool Your Rooftop

Dark rooftops absorb heat from the sun, which heats the upper levels of your commercial building. In the summer, a dark roof can be as hot as 150 degrees Fahrenheit. This requires your HVAC system to work harder to cool your building, which contributes to wear and tear on your HVAC system. Painting your rooftop white can fix this problem. Studies show white and light colored roofs can be as much as 50 degrees cooler on hot summer days. 

9. Install Good Insulation

During summer, good insulation keeps the warm air out and the cool air in. In winter, good insulation does the opposite by keeping the warm air in and the cold air out. A properly insulated building puts less demand on your air conditioner and furnace to keep your building comfortable.

Work with a contractor with experience installing proper insulation in commercial buildings. Older buildings in particular often lack proper insulation, so do a walk through with your contractor to determine what needs to be done to make your building more energy efficient.

10. Install Weather Stripping

Weather stripping installation is a relatively low-cost way to improve your commercial building's energy efficiency. Simply hire a contractor for a day to weather strip your doors and windows as needed. You'll save energy at the warmest and coldest times of year, and you'll reduce wear and tear on your building's HVAC system. 

Seeking Energy Efficient Upgrades? Get Started Today

According to the US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, about 20% of the energy used in the U.S. goes to commercial buildings. Together, we can reduce that percentage and save energy. Don't wait to get started with energy savings. To find out more about making energy efficient remodels and repairs to your commercial building, download our free publication, Sustainability & Green Building in Commercial Construction

Guide to Sustainability and Green Building in Commercial Construction