Everyone wants a greener workplace, but are we doing all we can to make it so? The answer is no. It’s not because we’re uncaring polluters. More likely, we’re simply not as attentive as we could be to how our behavior impacts energy use at work. Many people erroneously assume that landlords bear sole responsibility for commercial building energy efficiency. But while landlords may control energy use in common areas such as the lobby, corridors, stairwells, etc., tenants are responsible for the energy they consume within the premises they lease.
Business activity in commercial buildings of all types accounts for approximately 18 percent of all energy used the U.S. And while owners of office buildings — especially in California and particularly in San Francisco have invested heavily in energy efficient equipment and engineering practices, changing occupant behavior offers the best way to achieve the next wave of substantial energy savings.
We can start by knowing how energy is used in commercial buildings. It breaks down like this: HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) systems consume 39 percent lighting, 12 percent; water heating, 12 percent; electronics, 9 percent; refrigeration 7 percent; cooking, 5 percent; all other categories, 16 percent.
What office tenants can do:
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development estimates that energy use in buildings can be cut by 60 percent if everyone participates. Every building occupant has an important role to play in achieving more responsible environmental stewardship. Are you doing your part?
Marc Intermaggio is executive vice president of BOMA, San Francisco’s Building Owners and Managers Association.