Going green: How your travel agency can save energy – 19 Jan 2007

Turn it off: Travel agents can help the trade be kinder to the environment by cutting energy consumption in the officeHow best to achieve sustainable tourism and offset carbon emissions are issues very much on the travel industry agenda at present.

But, like charity, going green starts at home. If you work in an office or retail outlet, there is a whole host of things you can do to cut energy consumption.

What’s more, becoming more energy-efficient will save you money. Government body The Carbon Trust calculates that by taking a few simple measures, you can cut your energy bills by 10%. Travel Weekly found out how.


Go walkabout

If you’re looking to save energy, it’s important to understand exactly how it’s being used at the moment. Start by taking a walk around your business to identify bad practice, inefficient equipment and poor energy habits.

It’s important to do several walk- rounds, at various times of the day, so you can check whether timers need to be changed. And you should repeat the exercise at different points during the year, to check whether the controls need adjusting.

It’s also a good idea to include employees in the walk-round. They will know where energy is being wasted and help to spot opportunities. It will also make them feel part of the process right from the beginning


Make a checklist:

As you walk around, make a checklist that focuses on energy use. This will enable you to:

  • Identify wasteful energy use.
  • Identify opportunities for savings.
  • Identify maintenance issues that need addressing.
  • Prioritise which areas you will tackle first.


The energy no one is using

The Carbon Trust calculates that on average each office wastes £6,000 a year by leaving equipment on overnight, and during weekends and bank holidays.

A simple test you can do is take meter readings at the end of the day and at the start of the next. The difference is the energy used while the building is empty. Can you account for this?


Reducing the energy your building uses

The building fabric helps to keep staff comfortable but can also contribute to heat loss. Here are some straightforward things you can do:

  • Reduce air leaks – check around windows, doors, skirting and eaves for draughts and ask staff to report any discomfort. Fit and routinely check draught stripping for signs of wear or damage.
  • Repair any cracks – replace any broken windows and repair any damage to the roof or walls immediately. 
  • Replace any damaged or damp insulation – check that pipework (especially hot pipes) and accessible roof spaces are insulated.
  • Stop the drips – check water services including taps, storage facilities and pipework, and ensure all drips are fixed immediately.


Reducing the energy your services use

Building services are significant energy users in a business and by keeping them well-maintained you will cut back on your consumption.

  • See the light – keep light fittings and glazing clean. Consider replacing old yellow fittings with reflector (mirrored) fittings.
  • Lights are on but no one’shome – lights switched on first thing can remain on all day, especially in winter when people arrive in the dark. Switch offlights when there is sufficient daylight.
  • Workstations empty but equipment left on – encourage staff to turn off monitors and desk lighting when leaving their desk for any length of time.
  • Ventilation fans running – switch off ventilation fans in unoccupied areas to save fan energy and the need to replace warm (or cool) air.


Take control

A simple check on timers and controls could save you a fortune. Ensure that you:

  • Provide the right temperature – check thermostat settings are correct. Look out for signs of over-heating, for example, staff wearing summer clothes in winter or opening windows when the heating is on.
  • Get the timing right – check timers are correctly set for building occupancy. A minor adjustment may be required to achieve optimum comfort conditions.
  • Check lighting controls – external lighting should only be on when it is dark. If lighting is used as a security measure out of hours, can it be controlled by movement sensors

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