Carbon neutrality is a significant goal for many environmentally conscious people in 2020. With many citizens already limiting the amount of fossil fuel they burn for transportation purposes, as well as taking steps to reduce energy consumption at home, the next river to cross, for most people, is to create an eco-friendly work environment.
While computer screens, printers, and copy machines all require energy to operate, increased energy consumption may correlate to increased productivity to the undiscerning observer. However, there are several simple office design ideas that can not only make your space more energy-efficient, but actually increase productivity in the process.
#1 – Open Spaces to Make Better Use of Natural Light
The traditional office workspace involved cold walls and gray cubicles. It was not the most inviting of environments, with many employees forced to plaster their workspaces with pictures and newspaper clippings to provide any sense of humanity.
Not surprisingly, key decision-makers and architects figured out that this was not the best layout for optimizing employee morale, so they opened up their office spaces to augment feelings of happiness, satisfaction, and, subsequently, productivity.
Furthermore, by tearing down walls and partitions to create a more open and inviting work environment, companies are able to allow natural light to flow more freely throughout a workspace, cutting down the need for electric light to work around barriers.
As roughly 40 percent of office energy consumption is tied to electric light use, opening workspaces can save money and reduce an office’s carbon footprint–all while making for a more pleasant and productive work environment.
While open spaces are excellent for increasing collaboration and allowing natural light to flow freely, it is unrealistic to expect businesses to operate on a completely open landing. As such, when partitions are needed to enhance business functions, consider using clear or frosted dividers instead of traditional walls. These innovative structures can be customized to provide the benefits of a wall while allowing for the flow of natural light.
#2 – Add Quality Roof Insulation
Roof insulation is important for all structures, but it is essential in an office space. As the number and frequency of teleconferencing and virtual meetings continue to skyrocket, good insulation can help “sound-proof” your office space, limiting interference from outside noises and improving the acoustics for recording purposes.
In addition to improving the quality of your virtual work, insulated roofs can significantly reduce HVAC costs. Heat and air are widely known to escape through the floors and ceilings of buildings, so good polyiso insulation can help prevent your HVAC system from working overtime in those particularly hot and cold months.
#3 – Install Motion Sensor Lights
Nothing is more common in a work environment than leaving your lights on because you are just running to the bathroom, only to get corralled by a colleague and detained in conversation for 30 minutes. Or popping into your supervisor’s office to clarify a point, only to have him or her engage you for an hour on that important account he or she has been meaning to discuss with you.
As such, having motion sensor lights can dramatically reduce electricity costs, with the lights only active during times when someone is actually in the office.
In addition to motion sensor lights, other energy-efficient options for your office space include:
- Blinds or shades to keep your office from overheating after hours
- Dampers to control the flow of air and enhance a healthy and comfortable work environment
- Eliminating bulky filing cabinets and paper waste by going completely digital
Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.