Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Save Energy in Offices

A few months ago I was browsing through my picture gallery and wondered why I took so many of them, late at night, not of people but of high rise buildings. That is because there's something about tall buildings, well lit from inside against the dark sky that fascinates me. That's when I started noticing that residential towers start to turn dark as the night progresses but corporate America almost never have their lights turned off. Look at the picture on the right, the bulding on the near right is an office that is lit when the two towers to the far left are starting to turn dark as the night progresses.

Just last week I was in an office space trying to turn the lights off so that a powerpoint presentation could be better visible. It turned out that there was no switch on that floor that'd do it. This was an 80 storey building and seeing the lights on late nights from outside on the street, I suspect that this is how most of the floors would be. Now I realize that it's not the hard working employees putting in long hours but the outdated and inefficient electrical systems designs and layouts that make the metro skylines beautiful at night.

Inefficient and Outdated Lighting Systems
What surprises me is that in this day and age these building engineers can't program their lighting systems efficiently and install intelligent sensors that would turn the lights off when no one's around. Imagine the benefits this could reap if high rise corporate America can take a few little steps. The power saved could be used to get the chillers ready for being used next day to cool the buildings, putting less load on the grid during peak temperature hours. Or it can be used to cool down the server farms that are now consuming more power than ever and growing at an astounding pace, around the globe. Most important of all, the money saved in electricity bills can be donated for charity, or to investments in alternative energy sources.
Image Polishing
It is not long before people like me along with other environmentally conscious, hopefully like some of you, will start to realize that the real belivers and caretakers of the environment are the ones who think and act genuine, who innovatively try to reduce the negative impact they have, and who take steps to conserve the precious resources we've got. It is or will be very obvious that no matter how much media you get on your side highlighting your getting on the environmental bandwagon, it'll all be seen as image polishing steps unless basic attitudes and habits are changed and demonstrated. Turning your offices dark at night can be your first step towards a greener world.

How can you Help?
So the question now is who can take steps to do something about it? It certainly should be the facilities managment staff of these big buildings. But even before them, it's people like you and I who can make a difference. Turn your office lights off when you leave for home. Shut down whatever you can before you leave for home, including monitors, TVs, table lamps. And spread these good habits around. Talk to your friends and co-workers and influence them to do the same.


Sharda said...

unfortunately conventional buildings have fixed intensity general lighting system with very liitle or no individual lighting control.

I am glad to see that USGBC (United States Green Building Council)is encouraging energy efficient buildings to pay attention to this issue.

LEED (Leadership in energy and environmental design) has a credit EQ (Environmental Quality) 6.1 where buildings can get one credit point if they provide 90% control to induvidual and specific group (For shared spaces e.g. conference rooms, class rooms etc).

Credit SS (Site selection) SS8 also talks about autimatical control for non emergency lighting (after business hours)with manual override.

But none of these credit is prerequisite as of now