Work and the Office

Published on May 10th, 2010 | by Guest Contributor

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Smarter Buildings Survey Highlights the Knowledge to Practice Gap

IBM released a Smarter Buildings Survey and whitepaper this week that surveyed 6,486 office workers in 16 U.S. cities about how “green” and environmentally friendly workers believe their offices are. The survey questions covered building automation, security, elevator reliability and conservation practices. The vast majority of those who took part in the online survey are full-time employees that work in downtown buildings more than 9 years old. While Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Atlanta all rated high in environmental responsibility, the other 12 cities ranked at either average or below average.

Photo credit jon_a_rossGreening the office begins with awareness

Greening the office begins with awareness

“While we’re beginning to see some very good examples of green or energy efficient buildings around the world, around the country, there’s still plenty of room for improvement.” — Rich Lechner, IBM VP of Energy and Environment

According to IBM, 70% of the electricity in the U.S. is consumed by buildings. Disturbingly, they also report that up to half of that electricity is lost or wasted. The results highlight that the gap between how buildings are managed and the kind of smart, environmentally efficient technologies their occupants expect is widening. The first key factor in making progress is awareness of current conditions and making that information available. The IBM survey aims to push buildings beyond isolated understanding and efficiency strategies toward shared information and centralized management.

Here are some key results:

  • 27% said their buildings automatically adjust lighting and temperature based on occupancy.
  • 33% said their buildings are environmentally responsible.
  • 14% said their buildings use renewable energy sources.

In a response that is becoming increasingly common, office workers said that they are happy to help make their buildings better, with a few conditions. 80% are willing to share resources with other buildings as long as it does not affect their personal comfort level and 75% said they are more likely to conserve if they are rewarded.

  • 65% are willing to help redesign their workplace to make it more environmentally responsible.
  • 79% said they conserve resources such as water or electricity as part of their regular routine at work

By 2025, buildings will be the largest energy consumers and GHG emitters on the planet. IBM says that the four major areas of focus for U.S. buildings are operational costs, corporate reputation, empowered tenants and regulatory compliance. While there is no magic bullet, the overall strategy will need to be one that empowers building residents to cut operational costs while increasing regulatory compliance with associated acknowledgment that boosts their reputation in the “green” and CRM spheres. With new rebates coming from the government and renewed growth in the economy, now may be just the time to make it happen. IBM





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