Practical tips to jazz up your home office whilst saving the environment

How your energy efficient home office and green business system can save you money and reduce your business ecological footprint

 

West St Kilda Home designed by BP Architects. Office and environment
West St Kilda Home designed by BP Architects

 

Planning to jazz up your office in an environmental way?  Then there are two aspects to consider.  The first is your actual building.  The second is how you can make your business more environmentally friendly.  And reduce your business ecological footprint.

 

The following practical tips will pay dividends in the long run and most have very short pay back periods.  They may also save you money from the word go so for any business owner, they are all worth considering.  If not now, you can plan for them as your need arises for each of these energy efficient and money saving tips.

 

Renovating

If you work from home your business ecological footprint is already reduced.  You can reduce this further if you are planning to renovate your home and home office.

 

It is always good to upgrade your building so that it works better for you.  If you make it a more energy efficient home and home office then you will have a comfortable living and working environment.  Your energy bills will be lower and your working environment will be improved.

 

Summer Cooling

Shading your windows will block out the heat from the sun.    If you do this successfully you can still let the sun in during winter and block out the summer sun.

 

Each orientation of your house will be exposed to different angles from the sun.  On the east and west you have the low angle of the morning and evening sun.  Vertical screens help block out the rising and setting sun.  On the north side you have the sun at it’s highest in the sky during the middle of the day.  And on the south side of your home you might be exposed to the early morning and late evening sun during the middle of summer.

 

It is best to shade your windows from the heat of the sun on the outside of your window, rather than the inside.  This will stop the sun’s heat before it comes into your home office.

 

If your window that you want shaded is located on the east or west side of your house you can simply strategically plant trees or shrubs.  They will vertically shade your window from the low angle of the rising and setting sun.

 

Windows on the north side can usually be shaded during summer by the eaves this of your house.  If you do not have eaves then you might consider external shutters or a sun shading device over your window.

 

Essendon Home Sustainable Accessible Home
North facing windows and sun shading. Essendon Home designed by BP Architects

 

 

If overheating is a problem in your office a window film can reduce the heat input into your home office.   This will also block out any direct winter sunlight by the same percentage.

 

Or you can install a removable perforated reflective sheet to the inside of your window which will reflect the heat from the sun.  The perforations in the sheet still allow you to see through to the outside.

 

Winter Warmth

Insulation provides the best return on your investment when looking to make your home and home office warmer.  It also helps to keep the heat out during summer.

 

Insulation is usually easily installed and the payback period for insulating is usually a couple of years.  Hot air rises so high levels of insulation in the ceiling will work the best for you.

 

If you have timber floors, you will get drafts from the floor up.  Insulation such as reflective foil insulation with foam insert, which comes in a sheet, can be installed under the floor to stop these drafts.

 

Single glazed windows have poor insulation properties.  If you need to replace a window then you might consider installing a double glazed window.

 

If you want to insulate your windows, but don’t want to replace them, then you might consider heavy drapes with a pelmet.  This will keep the heat in overnight.

 

Or you might consider installing or having installed a second transparent acrylic or glass sheet to your window frame.  This will slow the heat flow and will also help reduce any outside noise.

 

Paint

Painting is the most readily way to jazz up your office for the New Year.  If you use low emission paint, which has low levels or zero levels of volatile organic compounds, then you can paint in an environmentally friendly way.  And reduce your business ecological footprint.

 

You will find that these paints are better to use as there are no toxic chemicals in the air when you are working.  And they are good for the environment as they have low or zero levels of chemicals in their manufacturing.  The paint industry produces more chemical emissions than vehicles on our roads so your choice can have an impact on the environment.

 

Colour

If you have decided that painting is the way to go to jazz up your office, then you may want to know the impact of colour on your well being.  How the psychological properties of colours can affect how productive you are and have an influence on your judgment.

 

The colour that will make you feel most productive is an individual choice and different for everyone.  Blue colors affect your mind; yellow your emotions; red your body; and green your ‘balance’.

 

Research into the affect of colour has shown that the intensity of that color is what affects you as to how you will respond.  A strong bright color will stimulate, and a color with low saturation will soothe.

 

colours that stimulate your senses
colours that stimulate your senses. from http://alifeofproductivity.com/angela-wright-interview/

 

 

If you want to stimulate your mind, then painting your workplace blue would most likely make you the most productive.  All the same, you may want to add a highlight of colour such as orange to add a bit of emotion to your colour scheme.

 

If you are a designer you may want yellow colours in your work place as an ego, confidence and optimistic stimulating colour.   As the colour specialist Angela Wright1 states

 

“It takes guts to be creative and come up with something new – that’s why yellow works in that environment.”

 

If you do physical work then red would make you more productive as red is a physically stimulating colour.  If balance is what you want to achieve, green is your colour.

 

liveable universal design home
Airlock entry to front entrance. Entrance of Essendon Home, designed by BP Architects

 

 

Your Green Business System

The second part of making your business more environmentally friendly, and save money at the same time is to consider your business practices.

 

If you want your office to be an environmentally friendly office you will want to have your own green business system or, more formally known as, business environmental management system.  Your System would include how you rethink the way you run your business in a green way.  Your business operations would considering reduce, reuse and recycling in all practical aspects.

 

Energy consumption

The following are some ideas on how you can start saving money straight away.  There are a number of power plug timers, and power boards with foot switches, that make it easier to implement these energy savings.

 

Phantom energy

Phantom energy is the electricity drawn from outlets when equipment is off but still plugged in.  Switching off equipment when not in use will stop this energy consumption and stop paying for energy you don’t use.

 

Your home office equipment may include computers, printers, scanner, photocopier equipment, or a combination printer/fax/copier/scanner.  In 2001 the Australia greenhouse office estimated if this equipment is left on continuously you will use approximately $220 worth of electricity. Switching off the equipment when not used would save you more than half of this electricity2.

 

From generating annual greenhouse gas emissions of around 1.8 tones you can cut your own greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60% by simply switching off your equipment3. This is a significant reduction in your business green footprint.

 

Office equipment has become more energy efficient since 2001 but energy costs have increased.  Turning off your office equipment when not in use will save you money.  It will reduce your ecological footprint and green house gas emissions.

 

Library and Office overlooking kitchen, sustainable ecohome designed by BP Architects
Library and Office overlooking Kitchen. Ecohome, designed by BP Architects

 

 

Screensavers

Screensavers on your computer don’t save you energy and consume energy you don’t use.  Turn them off and start any energy efficient mode on your computer such as energy star.

 

The startup surges for equipment are of very short duration and continue only for a few seconds.

 

Office Equipment & Supplies

When choosing business equipment you can include energy efficiency in your criteria.

 

If your budget is tight then you could buy second hand equipment in good working order, or refurbished equipment.

 

Think about the end of life use of your equipment and toners and printer cartridges.  Can they be recycled?

 

If you used recycled paper then you would use a product that uses 90% less water and 50% less energy than if you used paper that was manufactured from trees4.

 

Lighting

Artificial lighting can be another big energy user.  If possible use natural daylight.

 

You could consider motion sensors to turn off lights that might be left on.

 

LED lights are becoming more affordable.  A 100W light bulb is equivalent to an average 17W LED lamp.  There are some local council government schemes where you can have all your lights changed over to LEDs without charge.  Changing your quartz halogen downlights to LEDs is a straight forward way to reduce your energy bills.

 

 

Office views of surrounding Sunbury hills, sustainable ecohome designed by BP Architects
View from Office towards west facing roof terrace and surrounding hills. ecohome, designed by BP Architects

 

 

Plants

Some plants will clean the air of chemicals as well as provide an environmentally friendly feel about your home office.

 

Photovoltaics

The Sun generates photons that stream down to earth as visible light. Solar cells convert the energy of light directly into electricity. Assemblies of solar cells are used to make solar modules (or panels). Six or so solar panels are typically put together on a rack that faces the sun called an array.  A photovoltaic array generates electricity using panels  so that your energy consumptions is offset by the electricity generated from these panels5 .

 

Installing a photovoltaic array may reduce your  electricity bills to zero.  Contact your local council to see if they have a bulk buy program where you can purchase a photovoltaic array and have it supplied and installed for you, with assurances from your local council.

 

Reduce, Recycle, Reuse

Rethink how you run your business to see if you can improve in these areas of reducing, recycling and reusing. This will save you money in the long run, as well as helping the environment.

 

This may includes reducing consumption such as using both sides of your paper.  You could sort out your waste effectively into different categories and receptacles for recycling.

 

Considering these three aspects of your green business system will mean that you will run an efficient business with minimal waste.

Going green in your business is not as difficult as it may first seem.   It is a practical no nonsense approach to running a streamline business that is efficient and effective; whilst saving the environment.

Bridget Puszka

BP Architects

www.bparchitects.com.au

info@bparchitects.com.au

03 9525 3780

 

BP Architects

BP Architects design green homes that allow you to live a premium sustainable lifestyle, which your family will love, your guests will admire, and saves you 25% on your energy. At BP Architects we help you realize your dream home.

 

  1. http://alifeofproductivity.com/angela-wright-interview/
  2.  3, 4. The Green Office Guide

5. https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2002/solarcells