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Downsizing for post-lockdown’s new normal

Flexibility has been the watchword for many office-based companies throughout the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, with home-working employees keeping the wheels of industry turning.

The benefits of a better work-life balance for your workforce are clear, but there are major plusses for you too, although they may not be so obvious.

Think about it… six months ago you had an office full of staff, an office that you had to heat and light and provide air-conditioning for, amongst other things. With your teams working effectively from home, you should be able to cut your energy use in the office.

Making the move

Or, you could move to a smaller office.

Downsizing could give you the perfect opportunity to move to an office space that meets your new needs.

For those who can start looking on the market for new premises, it is important to make the right choices. You want the new offices to be your long-term home.

When considering new office space to rent or buy, low energy costs and carbon emissions should be high on your wish list. It is very likely that all commercial buildings will need to be low or zero-emission spaces within the next 10 to 20 years, so include the building’s carbon footprint in your decision-making. You can be sure that other businesses looking for office space will be prioritising offices which have a low carbon footprint and the demand for efficient office spaces is only likely to increase over time. Renting or buying an efficient building now is likely to be a good investment.

Think about your wishlist

Things to consider when choosing a new office are:

  • What is the EPC rating of the building? Are there plans or opportunities to improve the building? How does the landlord plan to meet the Scottish Government’s net-zero carbon goals over the next 20 years?
  • How is the heating, cooling and lighting controlled? Good levels of control are critical in minimising resource costs. Look at whether heating can be zoned so that you only need to heat the spaces that are occupied. Lighting also needs to be easily controlled to only be used where it is needed.
  • How good is the building fabric? For instance, does the property have double or triple glazing or is it well insulated? Improving the building fabric retrospectively can be very expensive and very disruptive.
  • Is there sufficient natural light that will enable you to keep your lighting costs down? Equally, is the amount of unwanted lighting not so high that you end up paying for cooling in the summertime.
  • If you are buying premises, is there an opportunity to install solar panels? These can also be linked to batteries or even electric vehicles to help balance your energy demands.
  • Would it be more cost and energy efficient to buy new computer equipment – bear in mind that laptops usually consume less energy than desktops.
  • If you are going to be renting your property, check that you can monitor your individual consumption and ask about whether you can be put on a green tariff. You may also find it useful to read our Green Office Guide that will provide you with useful advice.


If you make changes to your business which are going to ensure your carbon emissions are reduced, then make sure you shout about it. Review and update your environmental policy to reflect your new ways of working and share this with your customers and your workforce.

Remember, while moving to smaller premises offers obvious benefits in terms of reducing energy costs it will not be the answer for everyone. If circumstances are forcing you to stay put, there are still changes that can be made to help reduce your outgoings, including leasing out any unused office space. You can read more advice here.

If you are considering moving premises and would like more detailed recommendations on specific things your business could do to save energy and money, Zero Waste Scotland’s team of Energy Efficiency Business Advisors is here to help. We provide free support to Scottish small and medium-sized businesses and access to interest-free loans to fund the implementation of energy saving projects


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