Running a business is hard and managing the energy costs in your office building are even harder. Entrepreneurs get into business to follow their passion and want to focus on growing their business, not managing the office building.
Plus, studies show that energy costs impact the bottom line so it is important to understand how to control the bills during the summer.
“When it comes to energy costs, [taking action] makes savings here makes enormous sense for business overall…the Carbon Trust has said that just a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption equates to increasing sales by around 5 percent, and not many business owners would sniff at that!”
The last thing business owners want to deal with is skyrocketing energy costs during the summer. So what can an entrepreneur do to control their utility costs? There are a few ways any business owner or manager can cut their energy costs, which mainly focus on the air flow of the office building (just like your home!).
1. Take DIY Steps in the Office Building
By nature, office buildings have a lot of traffic. Employees want to leave the building to take a break or find some fresh air. Depending on your business, you may have salespeople that need to leave and talk to customers and close deals.
These are great and valid reasons for the traffic, but cause nightmare for facilities managers trying to keep the cool air inside the building during the day.
Owners may want to remind employees that these costs will add up and look to treat the office building like their own home. After all, most people spend about the same (if not more) time at the office. A few quick DIY steps to take are:
- Close the doors (to keep cool air inside).
- Pull down the blinds (to keep warm air from heating up the building).
These DIY actions all aim to manage the airflow and keep the cool air (and in the winter, the warm air) inside the office.
2. Improve the Airflow in the Office Building
Business owners (and employees) should learn how air moves around the office building because stagnant air that is recycled throughout the office will lead to poor air quality (and may be why employees need to take a break for some fresh air).
The first step is to identify and understand how the air flows throughout the office building.
To take a deep dive into the cause and effects of airflow, review some of the following:
- human activities – naturally, employees move throughout the day and create airflow.
- ventilation systems – note that the vents are not ‘set it and forget it’ because old or dirty systems impact the office air quality if they move contaminated air throughout the office.
- natural and/or chimney effects – the dominant force behind office airflow is the building and office design, including shape, size, stairwells, elevator shafts, etc.
- temperature changes – mother nature is at work on your office because seasonal changes impact air pressure, temperature changes and weather conditions, which plays with the building airflow.
For those folks in larger buildings (or facilities managers of large office buildings), then consider the revolving door, which really do work.
“According to their calculations, the swinging door allowed as much as eight times more air to pass through the building than the revolving door. Applying average Boston weather to their equations, the MIT team found that if everyone used the revolving doors, it would save more than 75,000 kilowatt-hours of energy—about 1.5 percent of the total required to heat and cool the building.”
3. Proper Office Building Insulation
Business owners know that cash is king. So, when looking at cutting your utility bills, improper insulation is like watching your hard earned cash float out the front door because already cooled air literally floats away.
The stats are quite alarming: 60% of air loss occurs through building fabric.
But what is building fabric?
Simply, the materials that protect the building from the outside. Of the roughly 60% of air loss that floats out of the office building, these are the main culprits:
- 25% via windows.
- 20-25% via roof.
- 10% via walls.
- 10% via floors.
So why does insulation work so well?
Proper insulation prevents drafts that lead to cool air leaking through the walls, windows and ceilings. Additionally, proper insulation works year round because air remains inside the building regardless of the season (which means less reliance on the heating the office in the winter).
Real estate professionals have a saying: location, location, location. Well, for anyone looking to control utility costs, there should be an equally prolific saying: insulate, insulate, insulate.
4. Don’t Delay & Deal with Office Building Issues
Procrastination is part of human nature.
In particular, things that we don’t want to deal with, we tend to put off for tomorrow. And tomorrow turns into another tomorrow and so on until the minor issue because an urgent issue.
In our homes, we understand how preventative maintenance works and taking a proactive approach in the office helps identify developing issues before they become problems.
In the business world, owners can take the same approach and aim to conduct an annual check. Many businesses have fluctuating demand, which means there are busy times and times to catch your breath. An annual building check up is a great thing to schedule when you have some down time.
For example, an accounting firm, which is typically busy from January through April, should consider a ‘building audit’ during the summer. Ideally, there would be a significant date that is selected (like the 4th of July or something business specific) so they don’t forget each year.
After all, any business that has customers or clients on-site, then clearly, any building problem has a direct impact on your sales and ability to conduct business.
5. Set Your Priorities
There are many costs and expenses associated with running a business and maintaining the building. Therefore, it is important to set your priorities. In general, working to stop air drafts and leaks is a good first step. As noted, much of the energy costs relate to the building airflow because warm air rises and finds those empty spaces. Identifying and eliminating air leaks impact the heating and cooling expenses, along with improving the temperature and atmosphere for your co-workers.
After all, nobody likes working in a drafty work area.
To help provide a high level overview, here are some ideas on where to focus the energy reduction projects in your office building.
- Stop Drafts and Air Leaks
- Insulate Attics
- Update and/or Upgrade Windows
- Insulate Walls
- Review Heating and Cooling System
The last thing you want to worry about is an issue in your office building because it distracts you from your employees and customers.
Luckily, at SolvIt, you are our customers and we would be happy to answer any questions about building maintenance. Contact SolvIt today and ask about our energy checkup to understand the airflow in your building.