3. Long Term Green Measures for your Business to Adopt
With a little investment to kick-start things, you'll be able to make greater savings and have a long term benefit on the environment.
Whilst there will be that initial outlay, with the suggested measures in this section the long term gains will ensure they pay for themselves in the months and years to come.
With the cheaper and almost instant opportunities listed in the previous chapter, your business has some easy ways to implement change across the board and ensure an eco-friendlier company stance.
Despite the ease in which these can be integrated into your company, you'll probably be surprised at just how much difference they make, improving the bottom line. There's also the positive impact to consider of you and your employees embracing sustainability and taking a green approach to everyday practices.
However, this is all just the tip of the iceberg. There's even more to consider and with a little investment to kick-start things, you'll be able to make greater savings and have a long term benefit on the environment. Whilst there will be that initial outlay, with the suggested measures in this section the long term gains will ensure they pay for themselves in the months and years to come.
Whilst not all the suggestions would be viable for every business, you should certainly consider the following and determine which ideas would be best for your company.
Lighting, equipment & technology upgrades
Whenever the word 'upgrade' is used, you'll likely think straight to the financial outlay required. However, whilst the suggestions here do require an investment, it's with the intention of bettering your energy usage and in turn, saving money in the near future.
Light & electrics sensors
We've already mentioned the notion of ensuring lights and equipment in the office are switched off when not in use, but if staff aren't on board with the eco-friendly approach, this wouldn't have the effect you'd hope for. This is naturally a problem when companies are trying to improve their environmental awareness.
However, as with anything there's a way to counter the problem - automation. Thanks to the latest advances in technology, lighting and electrical usage can all be regulated by an external device. When lighting or equipment isn't being used, it is simply switched off.
You're not short on options either and some of the sensor technology includes:
- Lighting controls
- Daylight harvesting
- Occupancy sensors
- Room temperature sensors
- Climatic sensors
- PC and other IT equipment
Installing sensor technology can have a big impact on energy usage in the office too, helping your business to save up to 70% on its bill. Whilst the installation isn't necessarily cheap, it shows that there's a massive saving potential for those who make the investment.
Auto shutdown for PCs
Again, in a similar vein to the point outlined above, changing the habits of all your employees can be difficult. Despite your reminders and encouragement, will everyone shutdown their PC at night and over weekends, or will they be left to run and use power when no one is around?
This is a massive waste of energy and precisely why software that helps to automatically shutdown a PC would be handy. This will monitor a computer's use and can even be set to shutdown the PC at predetermined times. It can cut down the energy usage by a third and won't put you at risk of losing work either.
The installation of insulation
Many business owners see insulation as a solution for homes and therefore, don't proactively look to install it in the workspace. However, it has just as much benefit for your company and will help to seriously reduce bills.
What's more, there are loads of opportunities when it comes to insulation and the chances are, improvements can be made to the building. In a traditional office for instance, a suspended ceiling can reduce the energy consumption up to 26% by preventing heat from escaping through the roof.
Another popular option on the insulation front is the installation of cavity wall insulation. Most properties built after the late 1920s have cavity walls and without insulation in place, are susceptible to leaking a vast amount of heat. For a three-bedroom home, cavity wall insulation will reduce CO2 emissions by 550kg annually and help to save as much as £135 each year. Of course, the larger the building, the greater the potential savings.
Insulation opportunities for your business to consider include:
- Roof insulation
- Cavity wall insulation
- Solid wall insulation
- Floor insulation
- Double or triple glazing
Even in listed buildings and properties in conservation areas, there's an opportunity to benefit from insulation measures. Therefore, you should look into the possibilities of boosting your building's efficiency.
Switching to LED lighting
LED lighting is much more efficient than the traditional bulbs and if you're looking to make long term financial gains, it could be worth moving over to LED. Although installing the system can be initially expensive, you can quickly start to see a reduction in your bills – An LED bulb will use just 9 Watts, compared to a normal light bulb's 60 Watts. The lifetime of the bulb is also a significant difference – LED bulbs enjoying 25,000 hours compared to a usual bulb's 2,000.
Despite these significant benefits and although LED bulbs have been embraced to some extent over the years, many businesses still haven't taken advantage of the full potential available. One of the major concerns is the varying degree of quality on the market, so there's an importance in choosing the right system.
In order to encourage uptake of LED systems, the Energy Saving Trust has started to label LED lights according to their efficiency. This should improve trust in the product. It's not just for lighting these ratings apply to either and the following could be EST rated:
- Heating and cooling systems
- Home electronics
- Imaging equipment
A scheme called Energy Star has been used to calculate the energy rating of these products. Using items labelled with Energy Star ratings could result in an energy reduction between 20 and 30%. It's not mandatory for businesses to use this technology, but choosing to do so would have a great benefit on the environment and the outgoings of your company.
Installing renewable technology
Everything covered in the guide so far has been targeting the implementation of technology that'll help you save on the amount of energy bought from the National Grid and used onsite. However, there is another solution available to your business, whereby you'd be generating your own power and reducing the need to purchase expensive grid gas or electricity.
This is of course, renewable energy.
Renewable technology captures energy from a natural source and converts this into power to be used by your business. For instance, energy can be absorbed from the sun, wind or even heat from the Earth. There are a number of superb benefits for embracing renewable power too, with the potential to slash your bills, reduce your carbon footprint and even generate extra revenue.
One of the major problems though, is the daunting prospect of installing renewable technology. However, despite the commitment and time required to integrate renewable power into your business, the benefits far outweigh any drawbacks.
Let's take a closer look at three of the more popular renewable energy options your business could take advantage of.
Solar panels have been the most popular renewable option by far. They're typically installed on domestic and business properties all over the UK and offer a wealth of benefits for those who make the investment.
Energy bill reduction: Once installed, solar panels begin to draw the sun's natural energy and convert this into electricity. This power is then used, rather than grid electricity, helping to cut those ever-expensive bills.
Generate an extra revenue: Solar panels benefit from a government scheme known as the feed-in tariff. This incentive pays those with solar panels installed for every unit of electricity produced, regardless of whether it's consumed onsite.
Sell excess energy: Over the summer months particularly, it can often be a case where more energy is generated than required to power your building. As such, if you find there's excess energy, this can be sold at a good rate to the National Grid. This scheme is known as the export tariff.
Better your carbon footprint: As a green technology, solar panels help to reduce the carbon emissions released into the environment. For the average home, solar panels would reduce CO2 emissions by as much as a tonne each year. Therefore, for businesses the saving would be greater.
For your business, this wouldn't be the large offshore wind farms you may have spotted around the British coastline. Instead, there are small-scale versions that can be installed for both homes and businesses, helping to reduce bills and better the environment. As with solar panels, there are some great reasons to consider wind turbines for your business.
Reduce your energy bills: Wind power is one of the most effective forms of renewable energy, which isn't surprising when you consider 40% of Europe's wind blows over the UK. Harness this power and cut your business's bills.
Be paid for the energy produced: In a similar vein to solar panels, with the installation of a wind turbine you'll also be eligible to the lucrative feed-in tariff. Reduce your bills and get paid for the luxury concurrently.
Store energy onsite: Wind turbines require one thing – wind. Therefore, what would you do on a clam day? It's a concern of many businesses, but fortunately manufacturers have included the potential to store energy for use later down the line. Therefore, you don't have to turn to grid power on a calm day.
Slash carbon emissions: As a green energy source, wind turbines will reduce your carbon dioxide emissions and in turn, help out the environment. Become a green business and put your investment in the power of the wind.
Ground source heat pumps
A third option for your renewable investment is ground source heat pumps. This technology has certainly come on leaps and bounds in recent years, with government incentives promoting the installation of heat pumps. This is on top of the potential for saving a great deal of money. These systems work by extracting heat from under the Earth, which is then transferred into usable energy for the building.
Bring down your energy bills: Ground source heat pumps are dug into the Earth and extract heat into the coil system. Heat is absorbed and transported to the building, reducing your need for mains energy. As such, you can save hundreds and even thousands of pounds on a yearly basis.
Benefit from government incentives: In recent years the British government introduced a scheme known as the Renewable Heat Incentive. Under this initiative, all those with ground or air source heat pumps are eligible to payments for seven years from the date of installation. This is fixed and payable for each unit of renewable energy generated.
Cutting carbon dioxide: As you'll be moving away from grid energy, there's the potential to save a huge amount of CO2 emissions. This differs dependent on the fuel type being replaced and will ensure your business harbours a green ethos.
With different renewable options to choose from, your business can easily embrace a green culture by investing in environmentally friendly technology and producing its own power.
Next chapter, 4. Green Services & Promoting an Eco-Conscious Companywide
Previous chapter, 2. Introducing Green Measures into your Business