According to a survey from IBM, inefficiencies built into US office buildings are taking a toll in lost productivity and added costs, and there’s a desire among workers to help remake their offices into greener environments.
IBM’s Smarter Buildings study surveyed almost 6,500 office workers in 16 US cities on issues ranging from office building automation and security to elevator reliability and conservation.
Rich Lechner, vice president, Energy and Environment for IBM said "Even as automobiles, transportation systems, electrical grids and other modern systems are achieving greater efficiency, many office buildings remain rooted in the past. Bridging this 'Intelligence Gap' can create huge savings in energy and maintenance costs and improve a company's bottom line, as well as create a healthier, more productive workforce."
Among the statistics the report has extrapolated from the responses is that the total accumulated time that office workers were stuck in elevators in the 16 cities in the past 12 months totalled 33 years, whilst another 92 years was spent waiting for them!
In terms of environmental responsibility, only a third of respondents rated their office buildings "somewhat high" or above, and almost two thirds said they would participate in the redesign of the workspace in their office buildings to make them more environmentally responsible. Other responses revealed that:
• 79% of respondents conserve resources such as water or electricity as part of their regular routine at work.
• 75% say they would be more likely to conserve resources if they were rewarded for the effort.
• 14% report that their office buildings make use of solar energy or another renewable energy source.
The survey results make the point that employees are keen to do more about making their workplaces more efficient and environmentally-friendly. Some of this is simply down to making their lives more comfortable (e.g. not being stuck in a lift!) but a proportion is down to environmental concern. So not only is taking action on these issue a potential direct benefit, in terms of efficiencies, to the employer, it also leads to a happier staff. We have always been of the view that employees are one of the stakeholders that companies need to listen to in becoming more environmentally-friendly, and this research backs that up.
The bigger picture is that (according to IBM’s press release) buildings consume 72% of all electricity, 50% of which is ‘wasted’, and generate 38% of electricity-related greenhouse gases. ICT can help manage buildings more efficiently, which is IBM’s angle, part of the company’s Smarter Planet initiative, hence the survey.