By Carlos Gamarra, PE, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, HARC
In this New York Times guest essay, read how HARC manages its energy and how your organization may become more energy efficient and sustainable.
It’s true that my co-workers were not happy when I broke the news four years ago that one of the two restaurant-size coffee machines in the office kitchen had to go. One machine went mostly unused, and together the two consumed 1 percent of the total annual energy use of the building. One percent may not sound like much, but our goal was net zero — getting our building to generate as much energy on site as it used over a year — so every bit counted. As the vigilant office energy manager, I saw a simple way to cut some of the waste.
After several conversations and a staff meeting with a data-heavy presentation on the energy use of coffee makers, most of the staff came around to downsizing to one machine. The additional coffee maker was unplugged and retired to a storage closet — still available when needed, but no longer needlessly chugging energy.
Motivating office workers to get to net zero energy may sound daunting. But by paying close attention to every aspect of our energy use, my co-workers and I have seen how even the smallest actions can have an impact on climate change. We now take pride in the fact that the office’s electricity bill is $0. In fact, our utility company, Entergy, pays our company, the Houston Advanced Research Center, over $1,000 a year in rebates for the energy our solar panels provide to the power grid.