Energy saving at work

Updated on 7 July 2023

Simple changes you can make for a more environmentally sustainable workplace.

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Office top tips

Natural light‌

  • Use as much natural light as possible in the office. Not only does it help save energy and money, along with the environment, it is better for your health.
  • Re-direct blinds to reflect light off the walls or off the ceiling.‌
  • Most offices should now have motion sensor lighting to help cut down on energy use. If not, please report to manager/campus and buildings.

Room temperature

  • Reducing heating temperature in the office by just 1°C can cut fuel consumption roughly 5-8% in a typical office.
  • Create an after and during work hours thermostat setting to help reduce energy waste when not there.
  • If you can control your room temperature, reduce the temperature a few degrees when not actively in the office.
  • Research shows comfortable room temperature is generally between 19 and 24°.
  • Don’t have heating and air-conditioning on at the same time. Not only does it waste energy, but it can increase the risk of damaging your health. 

Energy use‌

  • Switch off all equipment at the wall when not in use such as computers, scanners, printers, kettles, microwaves.
  • Use the energy saving mode on equipment. 
  • The University now aims to install only A** rated appliances. You could therefore claim a newer piece of equipment that’s more energy efficient than your current one.

Paper use

  • Default to double sided printing
  • Have a scrap paper box for internal notes within the office, re-using old paper
  • Use only recycled paper in printers/copier.
  • Dispose of confidential material effectively which leads to increased security and a lower risk of important information being made public
  • Reduce your margins at the side of your page on word documents. Allows you to write more words per page and reduce paper usage. The University of Jyvaskyla (Finland) has 2,700 staff and 15,000 students in over 40 facilities. They discovered if every staff member reduced their number of printed copies one A4 sheet per working day, annual savings would be almost 600,000 sheets of paper and €‌18,000.

Staff kitchen‌

  • Only fill the kettle up with water required, rather than boiling a whole kettle for only one person.
  • Avoid bottled water. Use a hard water bottle for water and refill at work if possible.
  • For coffees/teas, travel mugs are available and you receive money off your drink every time you reuse on campus.
  • Remove disposable cutlery/plates
  • Is it possible to get a food waste bin for your kitchen? This would help cut down on the unnecessary wastage of food.
  • Bring your own food containers to work which can be re-used rather that unnecessary use of cling film or tinfoil


‌Add plants to your office. They absorb air pollutants, emit oxygen and make the office look less sterile making it more comfortable to work in. Just don’t forget to water it!

  • A green office environment has shown to trigger improvements in employee productivity. Exeter University (2014) showed the presence of plant life in offices led to an increase in productivity by 15%
  • Better air quality, better ventilation leads to 35% less short-term employee sick leave. Fresh air and airflow is important. Also economical. Fresh air flow reduces requirement for air con, and ergo reduces energy use
  • Report any faults to maintenance such as dripping taps, faulty equipment, heating issues. The quicker solved, the less energy wasted and increased efficiency
  • A survey carried out by The Ladders, an American career website, found 90% of people would cite working for an eco-friendly organisation as important to them. Further studies showed 72% of people would choose to work at a green orientated office over another company’s less green workspace. Results like these are beneficial to a business as a whole, not just the independent worker.

Did you know

Ten changes that saved money and energy.

  1. Total carbon savings at Leeds University just by refurbishing 64 of their fume cupboards equalled 511 tonnes. It also saved them an estimated £81,000 in energy costs.
  2. Energy from devices like PC’s being left on overnight account for 1% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.
  3. Cambridge discovered that if all their staff set their PC monitors to sleep after 10 minutes instead of 30 minutes, they could save £3000 a year.
  4. Carbon intensive research shows Life Sciences accounts for 45% total water and electricity output on Campus.
  5. Installing Savawatt technology to 600 fridges and freezers could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 68 tonnes. It would also save approximately £15,000 a year!
  6. Laboratories are one of the highest energy users on campus, despite covering less floor space than most other departments.
  7. Strathclyde University swapped 70 water condensers for waterless condensers. Reduced water usage saved them around £3000 a year.
  8. Laboratories consume four to six times more energy per square foot than a typical office building
  9. A solitary freezer running at -70°C instead of -80°C can produce 30% energy savings. This equates to around financial savings of £300 annually.
  10. Based on a 10% reduction in fume hood energy use due to improved care at Nottingham resulted in an estimated saving of 520 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

Online resources

Introduction to programmes

Fridges and freezer use

  • Freezer Management at Harvard University - looks at freezer management, how to host an annual freezer clear out and offers advice on freezer purchasing decisions. Also, provides information about how much -80°C freezers cost to run at Harvard. 
  • Storing samples at -70°C - an exceptional piece of data, providing valid information on the different types of biological materials that have been stored at -70°C and shown no negative effects. Created by Lab PI’s from reputable universities across the US.
  • Green Impact at University of California - University of California, Riverside. Focusing on green labs, the page contains tabs to a number of different laboratory equipment including ULT freezers and -20°C freezers. Further provides one or two videos on freezer maintenance. Additionally looks at equipment such as fume hoods and a whole host of other green ways can be in a lab environment.
  • -70 is the new -80: The Report - Report on benefits of storing samples at -70C from University of California.
  • Lab Manager Magazine. The benefits of managing your freezer better – fact sheet by Lab Manager Magazine on how to manage your freezer better and the benefits for doing so.

Fume cupboards and savawatt

  • KCL Sustainability: Green Labs - talks about green labs and sustainability, mentioning the advantage of savawatt technology and replacing old drying cupboards. Additionally provides a link to savawatt installation, summarising what they carried out and the rewards received from doing so.
  • Savawatt Installation - provides information on savawatt installation, summarising what they carried out and the rewards received.