Our firm, Lankford + associates, not only designs energy efficient buildings for our clients, we practice energy efficiency in our office.  As a small business, we feel the effects of rising energy costs and constantly implement energy efficient measures to counter our increasing utility bills.  And, it feels good to contribute to the sustainable movement.

Are you environmentally responsible?  Green?  Sustainable?  Being a good steward of our environment has shifted from a fad to common practice.  And being ‘green’ is really less complicated than you may think.  These simple steps can reduce your business’ negative impact on the environment – and, icing on the cake – save you money.

Replace Incandescent Lamps  The commercials and advertisements you see are true, replacing incandescent lamps with either compact fluorescent or LED lamps is a huge energy saver.  The replacement lamps are not cheap, but the energy saved along with the increased lamp life is worth the investment.  The incandescent lamp is truly a dinosaur and it is amazing it look from 1880 until now to develop a suitable replacement.  Incandescent lamps convert about 5% of the energy they consume to light and the majority of the remainder to heat, so an added benefit to replacement lamps is they produce less heat, reducing your air conditioning energy usage in the summer.

Turn off your lights  Replacing incandescent lamps is a good first step, but even a compact fluorescent or LED lamp consume some energy.  The best way to save lighting energy is to turn lights off when not in use.  Installing occupancy sensors in your business is a great way to cut energy consumption.  The technology has advanced significantly utilizing infrared and ultrasonic technology, which has greatly improved the operation of occupancy sensors.

Slow down your water  Sustainability is not just about energy.  While it may not be as costly as energy, water consumption has a huge environmental impact.  Install an aerator in your faucets.  Low flow aerators are a mesh screen that is simply inserted into the faucet.  They can be purchased at any hardware store for the change in your pocket and even the most novice do-it-yourselfer can install them.  The aerators reduce the flow of water, cutting your water consumption, and your water bill.  In addition, the less hot water that flows through your faucet, the less electricity or gas it takes to heat the hot water.

Optimize your heating and air conditioning  Do you have programmable thermostats in your building?  And if you do, do you use them?  The biggest consumer of energy in your business, or your home, is your heating and air conditioning.  Therefore, optimizing it will also have the greatest impact.  Raising or lowering your temperature set point by a degree can have a huge effect on your energy bills.  But an even greater impact can be achieved by turning your heating and air conditioning systems up or down when your building is not occupied.  A programmable thermostat can automatically set back your temperatures when your building is not in use overnight or on weekends, thus eliminating the wasted energy consumed.

Work to implement these simple steps and you’ll find your utility bills decreasing and your ‘green-ness’ increasing.

Greg Fendler, P.E., LEED AP

Greg received his Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Engineering from Kansas State University and has years of experience with Lankford + associates Consulting Engineers, Inc. As a principal in the firm, Greg not only performs engineering project management duties, but also handles day-to-day operations within the firm as well overall firm performance.