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Energy and lighting

Date Added: 21/05/2010 Last Updated: 21/05/2010
The information in this article could be out-of-date or no longer relevant.

Consumption of electricity is the biggest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions arising from commercial buildings in Australia. So it makes sense that we find proactive and creative ways to reduce our energy usage.

Simple solutions

  • Switch off and save. Stand-by mode in electrical appliances consumes up to 15% of their total power consumption, so switch off computer and office equipment at the wall when not in use. And install timers or power boards to make it easier to turn off multiple devices with the flick of one switch.
  • Last out, lights out. Encourage the last person to leave the office each night to switch off the lights. Shutting down air-conditioning, heating, lighting and equipment when not in use can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the life of the product.
  • Join the CitySwitch program. CitySwitch Green Office is a national tenant energy management program that can help you office to improve its energy efficiency and demonstrate your company's commitment to environmental sustainability.
  • Switch to GreenPower. Electricity consumption is the biggest contributor to Australia's greenhouse pollution, with 90 per cent sourced from dirty fossil fuels such as coal. Make immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by choosing GreenPower - electricity generated from clean, renewable energy sources such as the sun, wind, water and waste.
  • Tune up your building. Save up to 15% on energy consumption from a simple building tune-up, which can be undertaken quickly without disruption to tenants. Adjust thermostat and cooling tower settings. Install timer controls on air-conditioning, ventilation and heating systems. Clean fans, filters and condenser coils and conduct maintenance to fix leaks and improve performance.

Interior green fitouts

  • Rearrange your office space. Utilise the natural daylight that shines in through your office window each day by rearranging desks and office furniture around windows and skylights.
  • Lighten up! Fitout lighting accounts for more than 60% of the average tenant's energy costs and represents the largest single opportunity for energy savings. Efficient lighting design and management can reduce your lighting energy bill by 40-80%, costs no more to install than less efficient alternatives, lasts longer and can generate significant savings on energy bills. Switch to energy efficient fluorescent lights for general office lighting. Install task lighting or desk lamps to minimise use of overhead lights. Invest in lights with motion-based sensors or daylight responsive light dimming.
  • Invest in energy-efficient equipment. Computers and monitors represent the biggest opportunity to save money on energy bills, as they account for 85-95% of office equipment energy costs. So, choose energy efficient computers, printers and monitors with a high energy rating.

Major refurbishments

  • Upgrade equipment. By replacing equipment such as boilers, chillers, cooling towers, water fixtures, urinals, motors, drives and pumps, you can reduce your office energy consumption by up to 40%.
  • Invest in sub-metering. Ask your building owner to consider implementing a sub-metering system to measure individual energy and water usage. You'll have an incentive to reduce your water and energy bills, and increase your bottom line.
  • Switch to smart energy sources. Innovative technology and design can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Solar photovoltaic cells for electricity generation, integrated wind turbines, waste heat utilisation from electricity co-generation and low energy cooling systems were all integrated into the design of the City of Melbourne's CH2 building, resulting in an 87% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to the previous council facilities of similar size.
  • Upgrade your server room. Servers and storage devices are heavy, power-hungry and heat-generating. To reduce energy consumption,don't over-cool the data centre environment, as most IT equipment can operate effectively at 24 degrees Celsius. Discuss with your IT Manager the optimum operating temperature for your equipment. Ensure you are only cooling components of the data centre that need to be cooled, such as racks and servers. Replace poorly sealed tiles to ensure cooled air is not escaping. Consider investing in passive, water cooled racks and extraction fans, and make use of base building cooling.