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Non-executive directors can play a key role in sustainability

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As more companies begin to consider sustainability and the impact of their operations, non-executives could play a key role in ensuring commitments are successful, according to Ian Wright, founder and chief executive of NonExecutiveDirectors.com.

Non-ExecutiveDirectors.com launched in June 2013 and has quickly become a key part of the industry. The site allows employers to engage with non-executive directors and recruit from its members without having to pay a recruitment fee. In just over a year, the network has had over 1 million views, with members’ profiles being searched on average 4,000 times every day.

Wright explained that his background is in head hunting, and he has built and sold several businesses outside the head hunting space. NonExecutiveDirectors.com brings the two together.

The site covers a wide range of industries, including renewable energy, cleantech, life sciences, charity and not-for-profit. Each month an average of 20 to 30 appointments are made via the platform. Wright notes that sustainability is becoming increasingly important among UK businesses and this is reflected in the success of NonExecutiveDirectors.com.

He said, “Sustainability is no longer a term reserved for the huge PLCs; it is fundamental commitment adopted by more UK businesses than ever before and I believe that the non-executive community can play a key part in ensuring its success in UK boardrooms.”

The renewable industry is growing fast in the UK and the pace is shown in the roles posted on NonExecutiveDirectors.com. Over the past 12 months, more than 70 roles from the sector have been filled via the platform.

Earlier this year, Earthmill, the largest 50-250 kilowatt (KW) wind turbine supplier and installer in the UK, appointed industry expert Trevor Murch, an Oxford and Harvard MBA graduate, through the site. Murch brought extensive non-executive experience to the firm, including experience with the National Renewable Energy Centre.

Chief executive of Earthmill Mark Woodward had identified the need to recruit a top-level chairman who could play a pivotal role in helping the company achieve its vision. Through NonExecutiveDirectors.com the company received a focused shortlist of people that fit the experience and expertise that was required. Woodward has praised the “easy and fast” process of the service, as well as the calibre of the appointment.

NonExecutiveDirectors.com created an online private network but its key selling point is that it is free for companies to use, removing recruitment fees that businesses typically face when hiring a new non-executive director.

Wright explains, “One of the big issues I’ve always has in the head hunting space is that if I’m working with owner managers, this could be private companies or listed businesses, very often the head hunting fee associated with recruiting non-executives is just too high, especially for smaller businesses.

“Unlike the executive recruitment space, companies recruiting non-executive director tend to work on a different approach, they don’t work along the usual percentage of salary because a non-executive doesn’t earn a six-figure salary. Ultimately the market has tended to work on a fixed fee basis but the fees are much higher than you would expect for someone earning such a low salary.”

Wright noted that non-executives can have a hugely positive impact on a business, particularly small or young businesses, but it is often these firms cannot afford to pay a high recruitment fee.

The absence of fees makes the site an attractive place for government, public sector bodies and the third sector to find the talent they require. The Cabinet Office, NHS, DVLA, Whitehall Industry Group, housing associations, education bodies and private SME businesses have all chosen to appoint experienced and established non-executive directors and chairs through the service.

Saving money when appointing non-executive directors ensures that the organisations, and, in the case of public bodies, taxpayers, reap the benefit. Public sector bodies face close scrutiny on how they offer value for money and personnel are often one of their greatest resources.

Kath Taylor, board and governance officer for housing association Helena Partnerships, has also praised the process, the mechanisms for searching for candidates and the response they received from their vacancies, which enabled them to “successfully recruit two high calibre candidates”.

Speaking about the future, Wright said, “We want NonExecutiveDirectors.com to become the only place to find non-executive directors, and on the flip side we want it to be the only place non-executive directors to find opportunities.”

Blue & Green Tomorrow readers who are looking to develop a non-executive career or further expand their own portfolio may use the promotional code ‘bluegreen’ to receive a 20% discount on an annual or 3 year membership fee for NonExecutiveDirectors.com.  Simply go to the site and to the ‘Register as a Non-Exec’ tab on the home page. 

Take our 2014 reader survey and you could win an iPad, Kindle or donation to a charity of your choice.

Further reading:

Lord Myners quits troubles Co-operative Group

Glencore becomes last FTSE 100 board to appoint female director

Co-op Group reforms remove ‘effective member control’, says former chairman

Women-only shortlists for boards deemed unlawful

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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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.

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Energy

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

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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.

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