Your average environmentalist is well versed in the evils of modern technology, and the havoc our more plugged-in societies are wreaking on the planet. But lost amid that doom and gloom are the tech-enabled best practices that are actually helping Gaia, and saving us money to boot. The FT reports on the way so-called “smart” technology is making the office of tomorrow greener than ever before:
Smart machines and appliances that collect real-time data, accessed and controlled remotely from owners’ smartphones, have the potential to revolutionise energy use in coming years…“Better data are highlighting the often very different energy profiles of different sites,” says David Bent, director of sustainable business at Forum for the Future, a UK think-tank. “When you can see which are the most efficient, you can share best practice and unleash the forces of internal competition.”
On the tree of green policy measures, there isn’t a lower hanging fruit than energy efficiency; such measures hang so low they’re practically scraping the ground. They are the perfect wedding of economic and environmental sense. Cut the waste, and save money and the planet simultaneously. Turning off light switches in empty rooms are an obvious example of a smarter office energy practice, but data analysis, especially of larger companies, can reveal less intuitive strategies. Google recently acquired a company called Nest, which produces thermostats capable of learning about household—or office—heating and cooling habits. Users can better understand how much energy they’re using to stay comfortable, and change habits accordingly. The thermostat can also more accurately judge when to flip heating or cooling off or on, and save energy in the process.But the office practice with the most potential green upside is also one of the most disruptive options: telework. Working from home not only saves the time and energy consumed commuting to and from the office, but it also saves employers the costs—both economic and environmental—of maintaining large office spaces. Don’t just telework to save time (although you should do it for that, too); telework to save the planet.