Energy consumption of properties is everyone’s responsibility – how to control it as a property user

When the energy use of a property is optimised by removing unnecessary things, there are no losers. The environment benefits, and costs decrease. It is also more efficient and comfortable to work in optimal conditions. As a user of a premises, you have a responsibility for energy consumption – and you are also in a good position to play an active role for the good of the environment.

Improving the efficiency of energy concerns us all, and everyone must do their part. Everyday activities in the property can be controlled by the property users. At best, progress is made through collaboration and ways of doing things that are meaningful to all parties.

More efficient energy is achievable by first looking at one’s own activities, practices and how to instruct every user of the property to act wisely. As a user of the premises, you can also be active in your dealings with the property owner and suggest ways to make the property more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.

 

See the bigger picture in energy matters

What can I make a difference to as a property user? People often talk about direct and indirect energy costs. Direct energy costs include the share of electricity consumption paid by the operator of the premises based on measurements of consumption. In offices, this electricity consumption usually includes lighting in the premises and kitchen and office equipment. These expenses can be directly influenced by the users of the property through their own actions and choices. In addition, it is important to consider whether the price of electrical energy can be put out to tender and whether it’s possible to have a say in the origin of the electricity supplied.

The user of the property can be invoiced for electricity either on the basis of a sub-measurement, or may have an electricity contract directly with the energy company, or electricity may be included in the rent, for example. If the property user has an electricity contract directly with the energy company, the user can not only have some control over the consumption but also of their own electricity costs and the generation of CO2 emissions by tendering the price of energy and paying attention to its origin. If the property user is invoiced for electricity based on a sub-measurement or the electricity is included in the rent, the owner of the property is responsible for purchasing the electricity. Whatever way the electricity is invoiced, a smart tenant will of course monitor their electricity bill and look to see where the costs arise. Consider whether the consumption of your property is appropriate in relation to the size and use of the space. Buying green electricity is an eco-friendly act, but the most important thing from an environmental point of view is that energy is used efficiently.

The electricity bill of the users of the premises does not tell everything about the energy consumption of the property, since energy costs also arise indirectly from the point of view of the property users. Thermal energy is used for heating hot water and facilities. The property also consumes electricity for ventilation, lighting in public areas, as well as cooling, for example. These indirect costs will eventually be paid by the property users, either as maintenance costs or as part of the rent. The users of the premises can influence indirect costs, for instance, by adjusting heating, using water sparingly, and by reporting possible leaking water fixtures or unnecessarily high temperatures in the property. This may reduce indirect costs in the long run.

 

How to improve energy efficiency

Appoint a person in charge. When learning about and continuously monitoring environmental considerations is part of the job description of someone who is interested in these matters, they will not leave them unattended.

Monitor consumption. Find out how much energy is actually consumed – and whether consumption is reasonably consumed. Select monitoring factors to view at regular intervals. To make energy use more efficient, it would also be necessary to first identify how, for example, the total electricity consumption of the property is divided between lighting and various items of office equipment.  In addition to total consumption, the specific consumption of electricity (kWh per m2) needs to be determined, which makes it easier to make comparisons between similar office spaces, for example.

Adjust lighting. Lighting accounts for a large share of the energy consumption of many office premises. Have you checked to see if the lamps could be replaced with more energy-efficient ones? Are lights left on unnecessarily? If the lighting in the property is controlled according to a schedule, it is a good idea to check that the settings correspond to the use of the property. As many people work remotely, lights may not be needed long into the evening. You can also find out whether there could be negotiations with the lessor about a more energy-efficient solution or lighting control.

Update your office and equipment for the digital age. When making equipment purchases, energy labels assist in choosing more economical options. Laptops are energy-efficient as well as being a flexible option for remote work. And if work is mainly done on a screen instead of on paper, that’s even better.

Green electricity. If property users have a direct agreement with the energy company, they can tender the price of electricity to obtain less emission-causing energy. This has no impact on energy consumption, but can help reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions from energy production.

Provide guidance and make it easy to report faults. Acting in an environmentally-friendly way is easy when the right practices are clear. For example, guide staff on how to sort waste and turn off lights when they are not needed. Make sure that devices are not left in standby mode unnecessarily – they should be switched off or switch off automatically to save energy.

And is it clear to everyone how to report room temperatures that are too high, or leaking water fixtures? Unnecessary consumption and costs can be controlled when reports are submitted immediately and faults are not prolonged.

Make environmental friendliness part of the operating culture. Various campaigns and energy-saving weeks prompt people to think of things they may not have paid attention to before. You can help ensure the environmental responsibility of your workplace by joining WWF’s Green Office system, which provides tools and steers things in the right direction.