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Cut carbon or put profit first? Who says you can’t do both?

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Those of us with an interest in the energy industry are aware of the pressures businesses and organisations are under to meet ever tighter government environmental legislation. But do we all really appreciate what they are up against?

What would you do if you had to cut your carbon emissions by, say, 25%? Here’s an idea – if you’re a local authority, why not shut a quarter of your schools and get the problem off your desk. Is that the government’s objective?

This might sound flippant, but there are examples of this kind of rationalisation in industry as businesses stop renewing building leases in an attempt to save carbon by shutting the store. These businesses mistakenly assume that in order to save energy, they should expect to use less energy. This is where improved energy efficiency measures can help.

Businesses needn’t assume that in order to save energy they should use less energy

The problem is that the concept of energy efficiency is all too often oversimplified by the government and industry and related to energy ratings. In fact, the key to understanding efficiency is not to enforce a product or technology, but to examine a business’ use of energy. This is the most effective way to reduce the input energy needed to meet the real business need.

Most businesses only burn energy in order to deliver the business they’re actually looking to make revenue from. Businesses needn’t assume that in order to save energy they should use less energy.

Let’s take a hotel chain as an example. Next time you stay in a hotel, just think about the heating and hot water costs. These remain constant whether the hotel is full or practically empty. The cost of running a building is disproportionate to the revenue per person.

Taking such desperate measures as turning off the heating or hot water would result in dissatisfied guests and possibly fewer occupants. Closing half the rooms to save energy might turn away potential business. Warm rooms and good quality showers, on the other hand, will attract more guests.

What this means is that you can’t meet a business’ key objective of profitability with environmental policies that only look at the energy meter. What we really need to understand is the energy cost for delivering the unit of service or product, such as how much energy each hotel guest on average consumes.

To continue with the hotel scenario, we need to define both the embedded energy for the process and also the potential for waste related to delivery when the full service is not needed. We need to define a bespoke, demand led, variable delivery system where output capacity for, say, hot water reflects the number of guests at the hotel and therefore revenue income at that time, reducing waste whilst improving efficiency and profitability.

If more people decided to book into our hotel, and it still uses the same amount of energy as before (because of its improved efficiency), the cost per process would fall. If your customer satisfaction not only increases due to improved showers and warmer rooms but your total energy consumption actually falls (as experienced by Zenex’s own customers), then your efficiency is improved by more than just the saving off the meter.

There’s no catch – if businesses manage their energy better, they can cut their carbon, improve their bottom line profitability and customer satisfaction, and enhance their reputation in the eyes of shareholders. Rather than emphasising cutting carbon, the government should focus on encouraging businesses to manage their energy profile better. As the hotel example shows, improving energy efficiency is directly related to a business’ bottom line.

If businesses manage their energy better, they can cut their carbon, improve their bottom line profitability and customer satisfaction, and enhance their reputation in the eyes of shareholders

The government needs to look again at how to encourage businesses to save energy and carbon.

Make energy efficiency measures affordable and pass the free markets choice of natural selection, as in, if it’s good for you, then you’ll do it.

Support commercial business needs: the legislation that is driving the carbon reduction commitment shouldn’t burden businesses with more ‘tax-like bureaucracy’ policies but encourage affordable capital and off balance sheet measures in favour of reducing business operating costs, especially relating to energy and therefore carbon emissions.

Outcome related policies will do more to stimulate business growth and UK business success in very difficult global trading conditions than just loading our nation’s businesses – and customers for that matter – with increased product costs.

Introduce more flexibility in budgeting for the public sector – businesses can more easily afford energy efficiency measures with short pay back periods as long as they’re prepared to allow some flexibility in how they account for their budgets, such as revenue and capital.

One of the worst examples of budgetary chaos is the government whose rigid lines of expenditure mean that public organisations can’t make savings without losing a proportion of their budgets and can’t swap capital for revenue savings. Compare this with commercial businesses who can decide that a capital expenditure on energy efficiency measures that provides a return on investment in less than two years is both sensible and enables a business to improve its profitability given the same sales.

Do all this and businesses will cut carbon and remain profitable. This needn’t be an either/or situation at all – when you consider energy efficiency, think of it as win-win.

Chris Farrell is the managing director of Zenex Technologies, a British company founded in 2003 specialising in innovative energy saving products for both the domestic and commercial markets. This post originally featured on his blog, The Green Entrepreneur.

Further reading:

EU energy legislation: it’s time to steady the ship

Will the green deal energy efficiency scheme work?

Chris Farrell is the managing director of Zenex Energy, a British company founded in 2003 specialising in innovative energy saving products for both the domestic and commercial markets

Features

Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy

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Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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How Going Green Can Save Your Business Thousands

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Running a company isn’t easy. From reporting wages in an efficient way to meeting deadlines and targets, there’s always something to think about – with green business ideas giving entrepreneurs something extra to ponder. While environmental issues may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, it could save your business thousands, so let’s delve deeper into this issue.

Small waste adds up over time

A computer left on overnight might not seem like the end of the world, right? Sure, it’s a rather minor issue compared to losing a client or being refused a loan – but small waste adds up over time. Conserving energy is an effective money saver, so to hold onto that hard-earned cash, try to:

  • Turn all electrical gadgets off at the socket rather than leaving them on standby as the latter can crank up your energy bill without you even realizing.
  • Switch all lights off when you exit a room and try switching to halogen incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps or light emitting diodes as these can use up to 80 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent and are therefore more efficient.
  • Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels which help you to understand their energy requirements over time.
  • Draught-proof your premises as sealing up leaks could slash your energy bills by 30 per cent.

Going electronic has significant benefits

If you don’t want to be buried under a mountain of paperwork, why not opt for digital documents instead of printing everything out? Not only will this save a lot of money on paper and ink but it will also conserve energy and help protect the planet. You may even be entitled to one of the many tax breaks and grants issued to organizations committed to achieving their environmental goals. This is particularly good news for start-ups with limited funds as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is keen to support companies opening up their company in a green manner.

Of course, if you’re used to handing out brochures and leaflets at every company meeting or printing out newsletters whenever you get the chance, going electronic may be a challenge – but here are some things you can try:

  • Using PowerPoint presentations not printouts
  • Communicating via instant messenger apps or email
  • Using financial software to manage your books
  • Downloading accounting software to keep track of figures
  • Arranging digital feedback and review forms
  • Making the most of Google Docs

Going green can help you to make money too

Going green and environmental stability is big news at the moment with many companies doing their bit for the environment. While implementing eco-friendly strategies will certainly save you money, reducing your carbon footprint could also make you a few bucks too. How? Well, consumers care about what brands are doing more than ever before, with many deliberately siding with those who are implementing green policies. Essentially, doing your bit for the environment is a PR dream as it allows you to talk about what everyone wants to hear.

Going green can certainly save your money but it should also improve your reputation too and give you a platform to promote your business.

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