Vipin Ahuja, manager of the Allianz RCM Global EcoTrends Fund, spoke to Alex Blackburne about the growing need for clean technology investment, and why he thinks it is so important for future market growth.
In an era engulfed in global crises, economically and environmentally, we call upon innovative individuals, businesses and technologies to clean up the mess and propel us into an age of sustainability.
This is where cleantech comes in.
The Cleantech Group describe it as “new technology and related business models that offer competitive returns for investors and customers while providing solutions to global challenges”.
Since 2004, over a trillion dollars has been invested in the industry worldwide. International recognition from the likes of the Global Cleantech 100 and the World Future Energy Summit have allowed the sector to infiltrate mainstream agendas and captivate investors, entrepreneurs and corporations alike.
Much of its success has been down to the productivity of pioneering start-up companies that have subsequently gone on to transcend the non-cleantech competition, and look set to continue their outstanding success. And all because of the growing investment in the industry.
The Allianz RCM Global EcoTrends Fund is one of the largest clean technology funds in the world. The cleantech industry’s popularity can be lead directly to funds like this one.
“Our focus is clean technology”, says Vipin Ahuja, the fund’s manager.
“We’ve got three pillars on which we invest: eco-energy, pollution control and clean water.
“We look at energy companies – whether they’re reducing consumption or are renewable companies – and then we look at pollution control companies that are reducing not just climate change or carbon dioxide, but also sulphur, nitrogen and waste in general, and we also invest in clean water” he says.
Ahuja, who joined the company in 2009 and has 14 years of investment experience to his name, continued, explaining the EcoTrends Fund’s aim.
“The fund’s objective is growth”, he says.
“We are looking for tail winds in clean technology, and we think the companies in this area have longer term faster revenue growth and higher return profile compared to traditional companies that would be losing market share.”
On the face of it, the nature of Allianz’s fund sounds similar to the Ludgate Environmental Fund – an ethical fund that Blue & Green Tomorrow has previously profiled.
However, Ahuja is keen to point out the differences between the EcoTrends Fund and other similar investment opportunities.
“It’s not an ethical fund, but we do invest in companies that have sustainable business models”, he explains.
“We don’t do any positive or negative screening, but we do look for cleantech pure exposure as much as possible.
“If a company’s got 30 or 40% of its revenue coming from clean technology, then we’re happy to invest in them.”
Like other ethical funds across the sector, though, some of the positions that the EcoTrends Fund holds are incredibly exciting – from both a business and sustainability perspective.
“There is a strong trend towards increased automation, instrumentation or process control, especially in the budding markets”, Ahuja says.
“That’s a big area for us – filtration, industrial pollution control and waste water.
“We also like natural gas companies that are getting beaten right now because of the warm winters, but longer term, we think there is very attractive exposure there.”
Another company that the EcoTrends Fund has invested in is Jain Irrigation, an Indian firm that produces drip irrigation and sprinklers that improve water, nutrient and power consumption by factors of up to 60%.
Investment in these budding companies has made the EcoTrends Fund extremely valuable. It’s currently worth over $1 billion, and is performing admirably against its benchmark.
“We have a benchmark that represents our strategy called Environmental Technology 50 (ET50)”, Ahuja describes.
“Last year, we were ahead of that index by almost 11%.
“You could say it has been tough year for clean technology companies, so the performances aren’t that great in terms of absolute performance, but against cleantech the performance has been satisfactory.
“We hope in the future, we will have a better absolute performance, too.”
‘Generational opportunities’ in the cleantech industry is likely to see even better return in the future.
But why are funds like the EcoTrends Fund so important?
“We believe that the biggest challenge that the world is facing at this point of time is urbanisation and industrialisation in the evolving market”, states Ahuja.
“That’s coming at a cost, and fossil fuels by itself cannot meet that challenge.
“The pollution it’s creating and the scarcity of water are the things we invest in.”
Ahuja singled out some of the Western companies that Allianz’s fund invests in as the ones that can spur on the cleantech industry to even greater heights.
“They have the money, they have the need, and they are asking for these technologies and products a lot more”, he says.
“They have an attractive market that is growing rapidly.
“We believe that the companies that are involved in clean technology and providing solutions for our next phase of industrial revolution will grow faster and have a higher return profile.”
Through funds like this one, whole industries have the potential to be revolutionised to fit in with the impending sustainable revolution – a revolution that is both necessary and inevitable.
But ultimately, it’s down to individuals, like you, to give the funds the backing in order to achieve this goal. And it’s very simple to do this.
How Going Green Can Save A Company Money
What is going green?
Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.
The first step in going green
There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.
Making needed changes within the company
After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.
Reducing the common paper waste
Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.
Make money by spreading the word
Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.
5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable
Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.
1. Weather stripping
If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.
Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.
Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.
2. Programmable thermostats
Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.
Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!
3. Low-flow water hardware
With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.
Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.
Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.
4. Energy efficient light bulbs
An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.
New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.
5. Installing solar panels
Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.
Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.
From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!
These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.