office building greenhouse emissions
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Unused Space in Buildings Generates 22M Tons of CO2

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Let’s talk about buildings. 

This year’s theme for Earth Day is “Climate Action.” For decades, people and organizations have wondered how to even approach the concept of fighting Climate Change. Protecting our planet has long seemed like an insurmountable task, one as hopeless in scope as it is in outlook. Though, with so many advances in electric cars and fuel efficiency, battery-powered personal transportation, clean energy harvesting, and smart sensors, humans are more empowered than ever to do their part.

However, all the Lime Scooter rides in the world won’t make a difference if big companies don’t join the fight as well. Companies that own massive amounts of real-estate need to take this call to action seriously. Reviewing a corporate portfolio may well highlight some of the most egregious CO2 emissions and energy waste in the world.

Occupancy data has become the golden goose for space efficiency. 

But the cultural conversation is changing. LEED certifications, Energy Star Programs, and “green” buildings are proving good for business, both monetarily and in public perception. Becoming carbon neutral is trendy, and if that’s the motivation businesses need to go green, that’s great. Between 2013 and 2018, the worldwide number of LEED-certified buildings grew from 11 to 70.

Buildings account for around one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions and consume 40% of the world's energy.

Danielle Pronesti & Giuseppe Pronesti, World Economic Forum

While constructing green buildings from the ground up is a wonderful and worthy goal, some companies simply don’t have the means to start there. These organizations are looking for simpler ways to track and adjust their current carbon footprint and right-size their real estate portfolios in order to affect positive change in this fight. 

Occupancy data has become the golden goose for space efficiency. 

“Research reveals that office buildings waste approximately 30% of their total energy costs on inefficient climate and lighting systems that are poorly adjusted to the actual usage and occupancy of the building.” (Daan Wonnink of Lone Rootop)

$3.36 billion is spent on electricity to power, heat, and cool spaces that aren’t used.

In the US, office buildings account for approximately 4 billion square feet of real-estate. At the national average of $2.10 / sq ft, the utility cost of electricity for that space amounts to $8.4 billion. Taking that one step farther, research has shown that on average, nearly 40% of all corporate office space is paid for but left unused or vacant. That’s conference rooms that are never utilized. That’s desks that sit empty, lounge chairs that are simply decorative, and even entire floors no one visits. For whatever reason, the amount of space left untouched is staggering. At that rate, that means $3.36 billion is spent on electricity to power, heat, and cool spaces that aren’t used. And one last equation to bring that back to climate change. The amount of energy wasted on those unused spaces is approximately 32 billion kilowatt-hours and more than 22,000,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions. Every year. 

*Based on the EPA Greenhouse Gas Emissions Calculator

No two companies are the same, regardless of how similar they may be. No two employees are exactly alike, even if they’re on the same team. The dawn of IoT and smart sensor technology has offered businesses the chance to more efficiently manage their lighting, HVAC, and other energy-consuming environmental systems. Organizations evolve, work patterns change, external factors like pandemics can leave once vibrant crowded office spaces empty overnight. Trying to force one-size-fits-all HVAC and lighting settings into a dynamic office environment just doesn’t work. Accurate occupancy data is the only way to demonstrably measure office usage and tailor environmental energy-consumption effectively.

Real-time people count can help.

With Density’s occupancy data, companies are able to track in real-time which areas in their offices are used or not. Our smart sensors are 100% anonymous and entirely scalable, so at any given time, workplace teams can monitor their company’s occupancy data portfolio-wide, historically and in real-time. These metrics are revolutionizing the way organizations measure, plan, and design efficient workplaces that will simultaneously promote bottom-line cost-saving and environmental sustainability.

Density dashboard highlighting spaces that have been used or not

Our people count data can be tied directly to environmental systems like lighting and HVAC, so if a room isn’t being used, it can turn off the lights, power down screens, switch off outlets, and save money. Historically, the problem with corporate energy waste is that it was hard to detect, quantify, and remedy in a scalable way. With accurate occupancy informing smart utility usage, your company can do the right thing for the planet and your bottom line.