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CareersWith energy costs rapidly rising, it is important for businesses to become energy efficient in order to improve their bottom-line and sustain profitability. Although research indicates that energy efficiency can lead to substantial savings in operating costs, most businesses are still reluctant to implement even the most basic measures.

According to the Carbon Trust (independent experts on sustainability through energy conservation), small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have the most to gain –  up to 20% savings on energy bills (compared to eight percent for larger organisations).

Better energy efficiency and improved water conservation in the workplace do not mean compromising on efficiency or reliability. Here are several basic workplace adjustments that that can significantly impact energy conservation and operating cost savings:

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). This is the single largest contributor to energy bills. The Carbon Trust estimates that air conditioning can increase a building’s energy usage by up to 100%. Through periodic maintenance and the proper use of system controls, the energy efficiency of existing HVAC systems can be enhanced substantially.

IT. A business’s second largest consumer of energy after heating and cooling is IT equipment. However, research shows that over 40% of businesses don’t even have a policy to shut down computers after hours. PC power management (PCPM) solutions can help achieve up to 40% savings with regard to power consumption.

Lighting. Using energy efficient lamps and lighting controls can improve lighting efficiency; this is one of the easiest changes that can be implemented with the quickest payback and best ROI. Regular incandescent light bulbs waste approximately 98% of the energy they consume. Comparatively, halogens are 10 to 40% more efficient, fluorescent bulbs are about 75% and LEDs are up to 90% more efficient.

Energy efficiency is only the beginning of a sustainable business journey. Once a business becomes more energy efficient, the next step to becoming more sustainable is switching to renewable energy sources.

– Fauzia Kerai Khan
The writer is Chief Consultant, i&b Consulting, Training, e-Learning. fauzia@iandbconsulting.com.

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on December 1, 2013.