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Leading sustainable investor WHEB on its new branding

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London-based WHEB, a leader in the sustainable investment space, has refreshed its brand and launched a new-look website: www.whebgroup.com.

After a few months at the drawing board, the firm has created a new logo and improved its website to better illustrate its three investment strategies: private equity, listed equity and infrastructure.

What you’ll see from the new branding is that we come across as a well-integrated business with three investment teams”, says marketing and communications manager Caroline Barraclough, who steered the rebrand.

The look and feel isn’t that far removed from where we started. It’s an evolution. It’s to show that we are a specialist investor that is investing across the whole sphere of sustainability and offering different kinds of investors different investment strategies”.

WHEB’s business in 2014 is quite far removed from the one first appeared in 1995. It began life as a corporate finance adviser, founded by Rob Wylie and Kim Heyworth – respectively the W and H in the firm’s name. Ben Goldsmith, son of the late billionaire financier Sir James, came on board as a partner in 2003, as it made the transition into venture capital. A listed equities team was added in 2008, led by Clare Brook, the former head of Aviva’s sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) team, and two years later, WHEB Infrastructure was built. The trio of teams was complete.

I think one of our strengths is that we’ve built WHEB from the bottom up”, Goldsmith says.

New fund management firms often invest heavily in their own infrastructure before they have raised any capital; they burn a lot of their own cash, struggle to raise the capital to manage and then end up in hot water. I think the way we’ve done it – adding it piece by piece as we’ve grown – has made better sense.”

Despite the changes WHEB has experienced during its 19-year history, what has remained constant is its binding ethos around sustainability and the investment opportunities that subsequently presents. Trying to make good, risk-adjusted returns for different kinds of investors out of the transition to a cleaner and more resource-efficient economy is still central to its mission. That said, Goldsmith admits that they usually try and downplay WHEB’s principles when talking to investors.

Principally we want to deliver fantastic risk-adjusted returns for investors, and our own thesis is that by investing in ‘green’ we will actually do better for our investors than if they were to invest in ‘non-green’ assets”,  he says.

WHEB Listed Equities – the strand of the business that manages the popular WHEB Sustainability fund, and formerly known as WHEB Asset Management – was boosted in 2012 when it secured a deal to bring in the departing SRI team from Henderson Global Investors. In came Henderson’s SRI lead George Latham, along with fund manager Tim Dieppe, analyst Hyewon Kong and head of sustainability research Seb Beloe.

Their arrivals almost immediately boosted the performance of the now £58m Sustainability fund. Brook previously used an analogy of a Premier League football team: “if you invest in the best players, you’re going to start getting really good results.”

WHEB’s team selection across its listed equity, private equity and infrastructure arms has meant it has created an environment almost unseen at financial services firms. Barraclough describes the business as the “friendliest, most connected organisation” she’s worked at. “We actually really do genuinely like each other and talk”, she adds. Meanwhile, Goldsmith uses WHEB’s annual get-together in London’s Regent’s Park, where they congregate to play cricket in the sun, as an example of the organisation’s camaraderie.

It’s Silicon Valley meets the home counties”, Brook says.  But while a friendly atmosphere is of course important, above all, their desire to invest sustainably – and, put simply, to do good – is the real reason they get up for work every day.

We’re bringing private capital into areas that need capital if we’re going to build a better world”, says Goldsmith.

“What this rebrand demonstrates is that there are huge synergies between WHEB’s three investment teams, in terms of vision, and also in terms of shared knowledge. The infrastructure team can brief the listed equities team on, for example, average selling prices in the solar sector, while the listed equities and private equity teams can share industry knowledge on geothermal power. This combination and depth and breadth of industry knowledge is fairly unique.

He adds, “I like the idea that our infrastructure team can facilitate the flow of capital into renewable energy infrastructure. And I like the fact that WHEB’s listed equity investors are investing in solutions to some of the biggest problems that we face in the world today. I think that the mission is unlocking private capital for greater good, and in the process making the fantastic returns for investors – better than they would make otherwise.”

WHEB has certainly evolved since inception in 1995. Its rebranding for 2014 cements its place as a 21st century investor, tackling – and profiting from solutions to – the key social and environmental problems of our age.

Further reading:

Looking forward with WHEB

WHEB Asset Management: a year in review

Henderson team happily flies into WHEB

From ethics to sustainability: shifting the investment debate for 2014

Ethical and sustainable: what’s the difference?

Environment

How Home Automation Can Help You Go Green

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home automation to go green

The holidays are an exciting, nostalgic time: the crispness in the air, the crunch of snow under your boot, the display of ornate holiday lighting up your home like a beacon to outer space, and the sound of Santa’s bell at your local Walmart.

Oh, yeah—and your enormous electric bill.

Extra lights and heating can make for some unexpected budgeting problems, and they also cause your home to emit higher levels of CO2 and other pollutants.

So, it’s not just your wallet that’s hurting—the planet is hurting as well.

You can take the usual steps to save energy and be more eco-conscious as you go about your normal winter routine (e.g., keeping cooler temperatures in the home, keeping lights off in naturally lit rooms, etc.), but these methods can often be exhausting and ultimately ineffective.

So what can you actually do to create a greener home?

Turn to tech.

Technology is making waves in conservation efforts. AI and home automation have grown in popularity over the last couple of years, not only because of their cost saving benefits but also because of their ability to improve a home’s overall energy efficiency.

Use the following guide to identify your home’s inefficiencies and find a solution to your energy woes.

Monitor Your Energy Usage

Many people don’t understand how their homes use energy, so they struggle with conservation. Start by looking at your monthly utility bills. They can show you how much energy your home typically uses and what systems cost you the most.

monitor energy usage

Licensed from Shutterstock – By Piotr Adamowicz

The usual culprits for high costs and energy waste tend to be the water heater and heating and cooling system. Other factors could also impact your home’s efficiency. Your home’s insulation, for example, could be a huge source of wasted heating and cooling—especially if the insulation hasn’t been inspected or replaced in years. You should also check your windows and doors for proper weatherproofing every year.

However, waiting for your monthly bill or checking out your home’s construction issues are time-consuming steps, and they don’t help you immediately understand and tackle the problem. Instead, opt for an easier solution. Some homeowners, for example, use a smart energy monitor such as Sense to track energy use in real time and identify energy hogs.

Use Smart Plugs

Computers, televisions, and lights still consume energy if they’re left on and unused. Computers offer easy cost savings with their built-in timers that allow the devices to use less energy—they typically turn off after a set number of minutes. Televisions sometimes provide the same benefit, although you may have to fiddle with the settings to activate this feature.

A better option—and one that thwarts both the television and the lights—is purchasing smart plugs. The average US home uses more than 900 kilowatts of electricity per month. That can really add up, especially when you realize that people are wasting more than $19 billion every year on household appliances that are always plugged in. Smart plugs like WeMo can help eliminate wasted electricity by letting you control plugged-in items from your smartphone.

Update Your Lighting

Incandescent lightbulbs can consume and waste a lot of energy—35% of CO2 emissions are generated from electric power plants. This can have serious consequences for increased global warming.

To reduce your impact on the environment, you can install more efficient lightbulbs to offset your energy usage. However, many homeowners choose smart lights, like the Philips Hue bulbs, to save money and make their homes more energy efficient.

Smart lights can be controlled from your smartphone, and many smart light options come with monthly energy reporting so you can continue to find ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

Take Control of the Thermostat

Homeowners often leave the thermostat on its default settings, but defaults often result in heating and cooling systems that run longer and harder than they need to.

In fact, almost half the average residential energy use comes from energy-demanding heating and cooling systems. As an alternative to fiddling with outdated systems, eco-conscious homeowners use smart thermostats to save at least 10% on heating and roughly 15% on cooling per year.

Change your home’s story by employing a smart thermostat such as the Nest, ecobee3, or Honeywell Lyric. Smart thermostats automatically adjust your in-home temperature by accounting for a variety of factors, including outdoor humidity and precipitation. A lot of smart thermostats will also adjust your home’s temperature depending on the time of day and whether you’re home.

Stop Wasting Water

The average American household uses about 320 gallons of water per day. About one-third of that goes to maintaining their yards. Using a smart irrigation systems to improve your water usage can save your home up to 8,800 gallons of water per year.

Smart irrigation systems use AI to sync with local weather predictions, which can be really helpful if you have a garden or fruit trees that you use your irrigation system for  water. Smart features help keep your garden and landscaping healthy by making sure you never overwater your plants or deprive them of adequate moisture.

If you’re looking to make your home greener, AI-enabled products could make the transition much easier. Has a favorite tool you use that wasn’t mentioned here? Share in the comments below.

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Environment

Working From Home And How It Reduces Emissions

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Many businesses are changing their operating model to allow their employees to work from home. Aside from the personal convenience and business benefits, working from home is also great for the environment. According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, if employees with the desire to work from home and compatible jobs that allowed for this were allowed to do so only half the time, the reduction in emissions would be the equivalent of eliminating automobile emissions from the workforce of the entire state of New York. Considering the stakes here, it is vital that we understand how exactly working from home helps us go green and how this can be applied.

Reduction of automobile emissions

Statistics by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show that the transportation sector is responsible for about 14% of the total Global Emissions of greenhouse gases, which is a very significant percentage. If employees work from home, then the need to travel to and from their workplace every other day as well as other business trips are reduced considerably. While this may not eliminate the emissions from the transport sector altogether, it reduces the percentage. As indicated in the example above, a move to work from home by more businesses and industries cuts down automobile emissions to as much as those from an entire state.

Reduction of energy production and consumption

According to Eurostat, electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning accounted for as high as 26% of the Greenhouse gas emissions from the EU in 2014. EPA stats are also close at 25% of the total emissions. This makes energy production the single largest source of emissions. Working from home eliminates the need for large office spaces, which in turn reduces the need for electricity and heating. Similarly, the need for electrical office equipment and supplies, such as printers and computers, is also greatly reduced, which reduces the emissions from energy production in offices. Additionally, most households are now adopting green methods of energy production and implementing better ways of energy usage. The use of smart energy-efficient appliances also goes a long way in reducing the energy production and consumption levels from households. This, in turn, cuts down emissions from energy production from both the home and office fronts.

Reduced need for paper

Paper is also a huge source of emissions, considering that it is a carbon-based product. EPA stats show that carbon (IV) oxide from fossil fuel and industrial processes accounts for 65% of the total greenhouse gas emissions. Working from home is usually an internet-based operation, which means less paper and more cloud-based services. When everything is communicated electronically, the need for office paper is reduced considerably. Moreover, the cutting down of trees for the sake of paper production reduces. All these outcomes help reduce the emissions and individual carbon footprints.

Effective recycling

While businesses make an effort to recycle it is not as effective as homeowners. Consider everything from the water you drink to office supplies and equipment. While working from home, you have greater control over your environment. This means that you can easily implement proper recycling procedures. However, at the office, that control over your personal space and environment is taken away and the effectiveness of recycling techniques is reduced. Working from home is, therefore, a great way to go green and increase the adoption of proper recycling.

Takeaway

Even though the statistics are in favor of working from home to reduce emissions, note that this is dependent on the reduction of emissions from home. If the households are not green, then the emissions are not reduced in the least. For instance, if instead of installing a VPN in the router to keep the home office safe, an employee buys a standalone server and air gaps it, the energy consumption is not reduced but increased. Therefore, it is necessary that employees working from home go green if there is to be any hope of using this method of operation to cut down on the emissions.

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