Front Office > Energy Use

Offices consume energy, from heating and cooling, ventilation, electronics, lighting, and other appliances. By increasing the energy efficiency of your offices, your organization can save money and improve its environmental performance.

When purchasing new energy-consuming products, consider buying the most energy efficient model that fits your needs. Visit the federal government’s Energy Star products database for listings of the most energy efficient products on the market. For product categories that are not rated by Energy Star, consult the Federal Energy Management Program’s procurement guide. See below for additional suggestions on how to reduce your organization’s energy use.

Also consider including Energy Star and energy efficiency specifications in requests for proposal and contracts. Contract language examples and additional product specifications can be found at EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Database.

Calculate savings from energy efficient products

For a list of energy efficiency incentives in your state, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency

In addition to purchasing efficient products, there are several other things that your organization can do to reduce office energy use.

Product specifications

When replacing HVAC equipment, keep the following in mind:

  • Look for EPA’s Energy Star seal.
  • If Energy Star does not rate the particular appliance, purchase the most efficient model feasible.
  • Look for other energy saving features such as programmability and power-saving functions.
  • Many products continue to use energy, even when they’re turned off. Look for products that use as little energy as possible while in “off” mode.

Energy use reduction tips

  • Turn off computers and monitors when not in use.
  • Turn off printers and fax machines overnight.
  • Install motion sensors on lights.
  • Replace incandescent lights with compact fluorescent bulbs.
  • Replace incandescent exit signs with light emitting diode (LED) signs.
  • Turn off lights when leaving the office.
  • Install programmable thermostats.
  • Activate energy saving features on computers (and turn off screen savers, which use more energy than just leaving the computer on).
  • Make maximum use of daylight to reduce the need for lighting.

For an additional list of energy efficiency tips, visit NRDC’s Clean Energy page.

Sample letter to current suppliers

Dear _______,

[Our organization] has recently initiated an effort to improve our environmental performance in all aspects of our operations. We would like to meet with you to discuss these objectives in more detail. We would also like to discuss ways to cost-effectively switch to more efficient products within the next few years.

By reducing our consumption of energy, we can reduce the environmental impacts associated with our energy use and save money at the same time. We would like to reduce as much as possible the harmful effects associated with our operations, and we would like to speak with you about more efficient alternatives to the products that we are currently using.

Please call me at your earliest convenience so that we can organize a meeting to discuss this further. Thank you for your time.

Environmental Benefits

Energy use is one of the largest environmental impacts in any facility and also one of your organization’s highest operational costs. Most energy consumed in the United States comes from coal, which contributes significantly to human-derived global warming and also to smog, soot, and numerous negative health conditions. In addition, coal mining – especially surface mining and mountaintop removal – is devastating many of the world’s most ecologically important landscapes and ecosystems.

Reducing energy use can have a positive impact on all of these issues and will also have a positive effect on your bottom line. EPA’s Energy Star program rates electronic products on energy use and grants their seal to those products that meet their standards.

Additional Resources

Energy Star
EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Database
U.S. Department of Energy – Energy Efficient Appliances and Electronics
New York City – Manual for Quality, Energy Efficient Lighting
Environmental Benefits and Cost Savings Calculator for Purchasers
Energy Star Savings Calculators