The Sustainable Working Series

COVID-19 is changing the very nature of employee engagement and workplace culture, including the culture of sustainability within businesses. Before lockdown measures and social distancing took effect only 43% of companies provided work from home options to employees. Experts are finding that working remotely is good for the environment as it reduces emissions, fuel and energy consumption, and even office waste. Now, as offices are starting to re-open and lockdown measures are easing, carbon emissions are on the rise. The Sustainable Working Blog Series will provide guidance on how to cultivate sustainability conscious behaviours in both the home office and the workplace across three core areas of sustainability: energy, waste and transportation. Our first installment, Saving Energy in the (Home) Office, explores how energy conscious employees are in their home office and provides energy saving tips to reduce the burden of energy costs and emissions placed on households during COVID-19. 

Saving Energy in the Home Office 

Did you know 78% of GHG emissions globally are associated with the production and consumption of energy? Canada is the second largest country by area, yet ranks above the global average for energy consumption due to our extreme climates and unique geography.  For most, cleaner air, a healthier planet, wildlife protection and less natural disasters are all good enough reasons to reduce our energy consumption, but there are other benefits you may not be aware of such as:

  • Reducing your energy bills and getting ahead of rising electricity costs
  • Savings on energy bills often offsets the initial cost of energy efficiency product purchases
  • Increased property value in a short period of time
  • Enhanced quality of life (e.g. access to natural light) 

Your energy consumption generates greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to your overall carbon footprint. If you’re curious about what your household carbon footprint is today, consider using the Project Neutral carbon footprint calculator to see how much carbon your electricity use and other household activities generates. 

Working from home is a great opportunity to reflect on energy use behaviours and build healthy habits for improving sustainability in all aspects of your life – even your workplace when you return! Let’s look at ways to reduce energy use this month, in the next three months and in the next 6 months. 

Saving Energy in the Workplace 

Energy conscious living shouldn’t end when the pandemic is over.  Engaging employees is always essential to ensuring the successful implementation of environmental initiatives and maintaining a culture of sustainability in the workplace. As employees gradually trade-in their home offices for their usual workplaces, we have a collective opportunity to change the nature of how we use energy. Energy use in industrial, commercial and institutional buildings (ICIs) are the second highest greenhouse gas emitters (after transportation at 49%) in Waterloo Region at 27% according to ClimateActionWR’s community progress report. Reducing energy use in the workplace not only benefits the environment, Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency also states energy efficiency can: boost employee morale and workplace comfort; lower your company’s operating and maintenance costs; and increase competitive advantage and corporate image. For a complete list of tips on how to reduce energy consumption in the workplace download Tips for Your Workplace