Josh Wise is Etsy’s Office Ecologist, responsible for sustainable operations and expansion of the workplace. Today we’re sharing a letter he wrote to Etsy staffers in our main Brooklyn office about thoughtfully reducing our energy consumption and carbon footprint.
We know that a breathing human emits about two to three pounds of CO2 per day. When you assemble 150 of us in an office space and add up our energy requirements, you’ve got some heavy breathing. No, really. We don’t have the ability to switch our entire building over to wind power just yet. So if you consider the emissions that come with generating the energy we use in our office, we’re basically a large organism exhaling a blast of CO2 into the atmosphere. CO2 in large quantities is bad, by the way. I hope you’re thinking what I’m thinking here: we need a breathalyzer test.
To that end, I went through our utility bills and looked specifically at our electricity usage since we first moved to 55 Washington Street. The chart below relates population (in blue) and kilowatt hours (in orange) on a month-by-month basis and covers an 18 month period.
As we grow in people and square footage, we obviously will require more energy. Still, the correlation isn’t always crystal clear. Seasonal temperature spikes, additional square footage and holiday lulls account for some of the strange looking peaks and valleys, but we can look at the trend line and imagine this basic wave form growing in magnitude as Etsy grows. Our goal should be to soften the peaks of this wave and think of innovative ways to keep the trend incline as gentle as possible.
As we enter the warmer months, when our energy demand will steadily rise, let’s re-emphasize and truly implement some office-wide practices, such as:
- Turning off overhead and floor lighting when you are the last to leave a room or area.
- Plugging all devices and adapters into powerstrips and turning the strip off when you are the last to leave your seating area. A device in the “off” position will continue to draw power unless it is unplugged completely or plugged into a power strip that is turned off. Don’t forget cell phones, monitors, lamps and personal fans!
- Opening our windows to give the central air conditioning a rest on mild Spring days.
- Re-calibrating our central air settings to better match our office hours and seasonal climate control requirements.
- Avoiding breathing.
After this modest beginning, what I hope is that we’ll find more and more novel ways to gather, analyze and share this kind of information so that it becomes a bigger part of the way we design and maintain our workplace. After all, we create and own this space together. Troubleshooting and problem-solving becomes much more exciting when we do it as a community. Let’s. Do. This.