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How we lowered our office electricity use by as much as 37%

Over the past year, two of Visma’s largest and most environmentally sustainable offices have embarked on a program to reduce their electricity use. The reductions have been noteworthy: 37% in our Copenhagen office and 18% in our Oslo headquarters. Read on to find out how we made such significant improvements, and what steps we’re taking to raise the bar even higher.

Sun streams into one of Carlsbergbyen's courtyards.

Since May 2021, Visma has inhabited Carlsbergbyen (CBY), a classically inspired office building in the vibrant Carlsberg City District in Copenhagen. The building was an ideal choice for Visma: not only was it close to the city centre, but it also ranked highly in energy efficiency and social wellbeing, reflected in its DGNB Gold certification. The location currently houses about 1,100 Visma employees.

Learn more about Visma Denmark’s sustainable office space at Carlsbergbyen

Mikael Valfridsson and business partner Rasmus Carlsen took over as Facility Managers in early 2022, just as the energy crisis was taking hold. Mikael explains: “The war had just broken out in Ukraine, energy prices were rising, and no one knew how the situation was going to evolve. We needed to see if we could cut our energy use more than we were already doing.”

Mikael and Rasmus began by conducting a thorough assessment of the operations at CBY. This included looking not only at technical systems like ventilation, heating and cooling, but also social aspects such as Visma’s culture and ways of working.

They were surprised to discover that even though the building was earning its gold certification, there were still many potential areas for improvement. “We discovered systems that worked against each other, vents that didn’t function as intended, or where we had set standards that were far from environmentally friendly and optimal,” says Mikael.

Different building – similar discovery

500 kilometres to the north lies Visma House, Visma’s Norwegian headquarters in the Skøyen district of Oslo. The building houses 1,264 employees and is reminiscent of a large ship, its bow pointing southwest towards Bestumkilen harbour.

A bird's eye view of the large windows at the front of Visma House in Oslo.

Like CBY, Visma House ranks highly for its sustainability. Building operations and maintenance are certified with the Nordic Swan Ecolabel, as well as ISO 14001.

Roger Mollan-Olafsen, Facility & Senior Office Manager, was also faced with spiking energy prices in 2022. Inspired by Mikael’s and Rasmus’ work in Copenhagen, Roger worked with an external vendor to conduct a full assessment of Visma House, with the goal of reducing costs and improving the indoor environment. He was surprised to discover that the building’s energy use in 2022 was 26% higher than the Norwegian office building average.

“Thanks to the assessment, we got some great insights on areas we could improve. There were actions we could take, both big and small, to both lower costs and improve the indoor environment,” Roger explains.

From knowledge to action

Armed with insights, Mikael and Roger initiated new, energy-reducing initiatives in their respective countries.

Mikael began with a simple technical adjustment that was quick to execute but had lasting effects: He synchronised the thermostats across the building to the same temperature. If one room was set at 21 degrees and the office next door was set at 19, the system had to work against itself to maintain those temperatures. This small adjustment had a major impact on energy efficiency throughout the building.

Meanwhile in Oslo, Roger discovered that the dew point was not correctly registered in the system, which made the building’s cooling units work inefficiently. Once this had been corrected, the cooling units could be set to a lower and more appropriate ice water temperature. According to Roger, the outcome was very positive: “The local cooling got much better, which meant we didn’t have to use the cooling units as often to push cold air into large areas. Instead, we could keep the ventilation air temperature a bit higher and cool locally where needed.”

Both Mikael and Roger also made the general climate control more flexible, based on how the office was being used at a particular moment. Was it a Friday with more people working from home? Was there a special event in the building with a hundred people viewing a lecture in the auditorium? The answers to these questions had a big influence on when and how the indoor climate system would respond.

Mikael saw the greatest results when he allowed the temperature to fluctuate more, depending on what was happening in the building. This meant that the system would allow for a wider range of temperatures before turning on and expending energy.

Roger used his overview of building activity to automatically adjust how much air should be distributed to different work zones, thereby limiting unnecessary energy use in the system.

Powerful results

In addition to the efforts described above, both Mikael and Roger implemented a range of other measures. When all was said and done, the numbers spoke for themselves.

After 8 months, the energy consumption measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) at CBY had dropped a whopping 37%. The Visma House results in Oslo were also impressive: the total number of kWh decreased by 15–18% after just four weeks.

Total energy use at CBY, 2023 vs 2022

A chart showing the monthly energy consumption at CBY, 2023 vs. 2022.

Total energy use at Visma House (Oslo), October 2023 vs 2022

A chart showing the daily energy consumption at Visma House in Oslo for the month of October, 2023 vs. 2022.

For Roger, the energy reduction program has only been positive. “This has really been a win-win for us. At our current rate, we’ll save approximately 450,000 kilowatt hours this year, with the corresponding cost reductions. On top of that, our colleagues have been letting us know that the indoor environment is better than it was before.”

A well-lit path forward

Neither Mikael nor Roger plan to take their foot off the (electric) pedal anytime soon. They’ve got a range of ongoing projects to make more improvements – from installing more energy-efficient lighting to integrating more of the digital control systems in their buildings.

Much of their work ahead is to fuel their buildings with more renewable energy. Roger plans to get Visma House 100% renewable energy-certified within the next year. CBY has solar panels on its roof that generate 19% of the building’s energy. In addition, one of the Visma companies at CBY, e-conomic, subscribes to The 0–Mission which allows them to procure energy from solar parks that covers their electricity use while creating more green energy for the grid. Both buildings are on schedule to meet Visma Group’s 2030 target to have at least 95% of office energy consumption covered by a renewable energy contract.

Mikael and Roger have received a lot of questions from other facility managers at Visma who want to make similar improvements in their buildings. Mikael has put together the following points of advice for any company wanting to quickly and markedly improve its energy efficiency:

  • Make sure that the responsibility for optimisation and control of the energy systems lies with the Operations team. At the same time, collaboration with other decision-makers is essential for success.
  • Implement both energy mapping and energy management.
  • Investigate the market for potential new installations, especially if the building’s systems are more than ten years old. Building management systems (BMS) and energy mapping are especially relevant.
  • Use service providers’ knowledge and ask critical questions.
  • Start by testing the building’s exterior points, and then regulate inwards.
  • Test the building in all phases of the seasons.

Looking ahead, Mikael sees rising demands and expectations as opportunities. “It’s no secret there will be more EU requirements in the coming years,” he says. “To stay ahead of these and also align with Visma’s sustainability strategy, we need to continue to prioritise and invest in more sustainable initiatives.”

“We’ll make a number of investments, both profitable ones, with a very clear ROI, but also ones to lower emissions, which in return give Visma a significant reduction in carbon footprint,” concludes Mikael.

Learn more about sustainability at Visma

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