Connect with us

Features

John Ditchfield: ethical investment wins on price, performance and the planet

Published

on

With National Ethical Investment Week in full swing, many in the industry are hoping that the event can go a long way in dispelling some of the common misconceptions often associated with ethical, sustainable and responsible investment.

Statistics released this morning by research firm EIRIS confirm that almost £11 billion is invested in UK green and ethical funds – up from £4 billion a decade ago – and there are some €1 trillion worth of responsibly-managed assets in the UK – contributing to 18% of the total European market for responsible investment, according to the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association.

I question the assertion that ethical investment is a cottage industry”, says John Ditchfield, managing partner at Barchester Green, one of the UK’s oldest ethical independent financial advisers.

It is reasonably large, but I do think there is a barrier around public perception.

The general public in the UK still regards it as a bit of a fringe enterprise for people who are nutty about environmental issues.

In a sense it’s already there in the mainstream; it’s just that individuals don’t recognise that.”

As for the assertion that there is a performance sacrifice to be made when opting for dedicated ethical investments, Ditchfield adds that this is “factually incorrect”.

Ethical funds, just like conventional ones, do vary in performance – there are some that do underperform and there are some that don’t. But there is simply no evidence or noticeable trends to suggest that by investing ethically, you’re guaranteed to get a lower return than if you were to opt for mainstream investments. Just the opposite, in fact.

A recent study by German rating agency Oekom found that firms in the Prime Portfolio Large Caps index – a group of 300 major firms with sustainability accreditations – reaped a 15% better return over a seven-year period between 2004 and 2011 than the MSCI World Index.

This is on top of a study by the now-defunct DB Climate Change Advisors, Deutsche Bank’s climate change research arm, which after looking at over 100 academic papers into sustainable investment, found that 89% displayed evidence for “market-based outperformance for companies that factored sustainability into their investment strategies.

Ditchfield points to the “three Ps” of ethical investment in order to encourage individuals to invest in this way.

Firstly, on price, ethical funds are very cost-effective. They’re not expensive funds to invest into”, he begins.

Secondly, the performance is very good on many ethical funds.

And thirdly, we do need to look after the only planet we’ve got, because investing in businesses which are about sustainability and protection the environment is very good.

A fourth point would be to do with values – it’s more interesting to invest, to a certain extent, in line with your values I’d say.”

Ditchfield was last month elected to the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association’s (UKSIF) board, and his company, Barchester Green, recently held an event as part of National Ethical Investment Week (NEIW) – called Heroes of Ethical Investment. A number of awards were presented to companies that have excelled in investing ethically over the past 12 months.

Triodos Bank, whose managing director Charles Middleton featured in Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Sustainable Banking, picked up the pioneer award for its “significant contribution to the sector by encouraging responsible financial practice, thought leadership and innovation”.

Meanwhile, the Cheviot Climate Assets Fund and Kames Capital won performance awards; the UK’s only 100% renewable electricity provider Good Energy was given the award for potential and WHEB Asset Management went home with the one to watch award.

Provided we can raise the profile of the sector, then it’s a very useful thing”, comments Ditchfield, when asked about the potential impact of NEIW 2012.

Currently, I think there is a large chunk of the population that can invest ethically and environmentally whilst making a financial return.

It’s really about educating the public and putting information out into the public domain on ethical and environmental investing. It’s very important for the sector.”

National Ethical Investment Week runs until Saturday, October 20. Join the movement on Twitter using the hashtag #NEIW12.

Further reading:

Ethical investment has taken off despite a ‘great deal of misunderstanding’

UKSIF elects new director to its board

Ethical investment demand rises as individuals turn to sustainability

National Ethical Investment Week 2012 begins

Financial advisers targeted for National Ethical Investment Week

National Ethical Investment Week calls on religious groups to take action

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

Published

on

going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

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

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

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.

Continue Reading

Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

Published

on

By

sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

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

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

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.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Facebook

Trending