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Office buildings wasting energy

  • 13-04-2022 11:00am
    Registered Users Posts: 7,814 ✭✭✭ the_amazing_raisin

    Yeah, time for a rant thread 😁

    So I'm sitting in my office for the 3rd time since the pandemic began. I'm in a company that allows people to work remotely as much as they want and to put it mildly that allowance is being exercised a lot

    There's about 4 people on my floor out of maybe 300 desks. Scaling that up over the other floors and buildings, there's probably 3000 desks with less than 100 people working including facilities staff. I spoke to a few of the canteen staff and they said it's been dead since the general reopening a few weeks ago

    We're still at our assigned desks, so people are scattered around the place. Probably makes sense from a simplicity standpoint, but the next effect is that entire buildings are being lit and heated for a handful of people

    In the midst of an energy price crisis I find this pretty annoying. If my company and others would implement a desk booking system they'd be able to fill up floors one at a time, so the other floors could use minimal energy until needed

    It would also help facilities planning a lot, for example the canteen would know a day ahead how many people would be on-site, so they don't have to cook a ton of extra food which would then go in the bin


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 17,405 Mod ✭✭✭✭ slave1

    and how many laptop/PCs/monitors are plugged in and left on, monitors especially

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,938 ✭✭✭ kirk.

    Probably a good point in the op

    Companies making big money may not care about usage and it needs enforcement

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,814 ✭✭✭ the_amazing_raisin

    Yep, they've started doing culls of unused desktops and servers, trying to push everyone to the cloud (I work for a company that makes one of those clouds so it probably makes sense to use it)

    But there's still a few PC's left running scattered around

    Plus all the fridges, coffee machines, vending machines, etc.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,009 ✭✭✭ duffman3833

    Its something you wouldn't really think about but definitely should be looked at.

    In my current place of employment I'm thinking of all the waste. We do ask users to shutdown pcs at night but im sure there are many left on. Lights left on and appliances all night. I'm sure it all adds up

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,814 ✭✭✭ the_amazing_raisin

    Absolutely, office space usage should be reported so it can be seen how much of it is wasted space these days

    The thing which amazes me is that our office is rented, not owned, so they're paying the management company a lot of money for nothing. Although they're a big tenant so I suspect they're getting a serious discount

    We're in the middle of a housing crisis and I wonder how much office space could be repurposed into living space. I don't think you could easily convert office buildings to apartments, but I think co living spaces would be achievable. Single ensuite rooms around the edge of the floor and dining and leisure facilities in the middle or something

    It might also make a nice benefit for employers, they can offer worker dorms for some nominal rent and attract more talent. I used to work with a guy who did that out in Japan with the company he was with and he thought it was brilliant, got almost free accommodation in a high cost area

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  • Registered Users Posts: 710 ✭✭✭ 3d4life

    Not just office buildings.....

    How about data centres putting their 'waste' heat to use ?

    Semitropical fruit & veg grow houses colocated with DCs ?

    DCs in urban areas might consider supplying district heating systems ?

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,814 ✭✭✭ the_amazing_raisin

    District heating in one of those ideas that's great in general but nobody ever bothers to implement it, unless it's somewhere you're likely to freeze to death

    But yeah something like district heating would definitely help fight the "data centers r bad" argument that keeps flying around

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,847 ✭✭✭✭ AndrewJRenko

    How about we stop overloading data centres with data we will never use, like every crap selfie and every ‘funny’ video ?

    And yes, I’m aware of the irony of boards being hosted in a data centre, but you’d get 1000 boards text sh1tposts for every photo uploaded to the cloud.

  • Registered Users Posts: 18,177 ✭✭✭✭ Del2005

    District heating would require a lot of alterations to any housing estate or apartment block so retrofitting is not an option. For new builds its a good idea but we don't build housing near most data centres. We could even use the excess heat from factories if we had joined up thinking.

    There's a fee new schools built near me and none have solar panels. So it's not just industrial buildings that have bad design.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,814 ✭✭✭ the_amazing_raisin

    Well even if we stopped posting garbage to social media, more and more computing is moving to cloud services, so data centers are only going to get bigger

    And if they're being used then the energy isn't wasted, at least not in the same way that heating an empty office is

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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,814 ✭✭✭ the_amazing_raisin

    It's hardly the biggest project ever. Dig trench, put pipes in street, cover. Yeah the DCs aren't right beside towns, but there's generally a residential area within a couple of kilometres. I mean there's entire cities powered by district heating through kilometres of pipework, so the engineering is already done to some extent

    The biggest hurdle is the connection to the house, the homeowner would have the expense and hassle of groundworks to inside the house, plus probably a small heat pump to extract the heat from the incoming heat medium (I'm assuming they won't be circulating 75C water through the system)

    You could even hook it up to a district thermal battery to store up some heat for later use

    Yeah there would need to be some level of government support, but it's hardly the dumbest scheme they've put money into

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,847 ✭✭✭✭ AndrewJRenko

    It’s not just the posting. It’s the cloud backups of every photo and video, though we’ll never look at 99% of them again. It’s the keeping of every email, just in case.

    It is digital waste, and it has an environmental cost.

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 62,560 Mod ✭✭✭✭ L1011

    Monitors in standby won't be using a watt each. Its not the CRT era anymore!

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 62,560 Mod ✭✭✭✭ L1011

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 17,405 Mod ✭✭✭✭ slave1

    Correct, and that’s for 16hrs a work day and all weekends/holidays/WFH across the country…….

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,453 ✭✭✭ sam t smith

    They could get sand and palm trees and make it a tropical paradise tourist resort. It would save on airmiles etc.