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Sustainable Football: Which Team is Greenest?




With Leicester City’s Premier League title win now feeling like a distant memory, it’s very much business-as-usual this season with the top spots filled almost exclusively with predictable names. It might seem that not very much has changed in the last few years. While this might be true of the results and the league table, there has actually been something of a quiet revolution going on behind the scenes as clubs begin to embrace sustainability.

But which club is greenest? Here, football fan and writer for Soccer Box Liam Houghton discusses the ‘greenest’ football teams in play today. Certainly some of the Premier League teams have stepped up their environmentally-friendly work but it seems that they are being outdone by their lower league rivals.

Manchester United

It may be the case that of all the Premier League teams, Manchester United is the greenest. This is a club that needs no introduction – but their environmental credentials are perhaps not as well-known as their successes on the pitch. The club has two environmental initiatives ‘United to Switch Off and Save’ promotes energy efficiency, while ‘Reds Go Green’ is focused on waste and recycling. Alongside these schemes, the club makes the effort to put its money where its mouth is.

Rainwater at Old Trafford is recycled and used to irrigate the pitch. The club also ensures that no waste products are sent to landfill as the stadium utilises an extensive recycling scheme and any materials that cannot be recycled are sent to a waste-to-energy plant. Any wasted food from match days is composted. And the Red Devils are even sustainability-conscious away from Old Trafford. Everything from office stationery and marketing materials to IT equipment and signage boards are recycled or sent for re-use.

United are also looking for ways to utilise recycled materials for artificial turf. Working with Apollo Tyres, the club recycled 2,200 tyres and turned them into an artificial pitch at their training ground.

Dartford FC

As you might expect, however, the Premier League teams – who focus more closely towards on-pitch success – can’t match some of the lower league clubs for sustainability. It’s possible that this title is claimed by Dartford FC who play in the National League South, the sixth tier of English football. 2006 was a landmark year for the club when they opened their brand new Princes Park stadium, which was purpose-built to be the UK’s first sustainable football stadium.

The stadium, which cost £6.5 million has an array of environmentally-friendly features including a grass roof, low-energy lighting, reclaimed rainwater and a solar panel system to provide clean energy. The club also encourages its fans to arrive at the ground by public transport rather than using cars to drive in.

It’s also worth noting that Dartford have a significant advantage over Manchester United in terms of environmental sustainability – and that’s the distances they have to travel. United need to travel everywhere from Sunderland to Southampton, but they also regularly compete in Europe, taking environmentally-costly flights. The vast majority of the teams Dartford FC play are within an hour or so of driving.

Forest Green Rovers

But perhaps going to a level beyond Dartford FC is Forest Green Rovers. Taken over by green energy entrepreneur Dale Vince in 2010, the club set itself the goal of becoming the most sustainable football club in Britain. This has included retrofitting their stadium, The New Lawn, to become exceptionally green.

The pitch is organic with no pesticides or man-made chemicals to keep the grass in a good state. Rainwater is collected to irrigate the pitch and solar panels have been placed in the roof to provide the stadium with green power. The players even carpool and use electric cars supplied by Nissan to reduce their carbon emissions. The club additionally made history in 2015 as The New Lawn became the UK’s first all-vegan football stadium – only vegan foods are available to purchase.

The eventual goal is to become a zero carbon football club and the team is currently looking into LED floodlights and additional ways to minimise waste and emissions.


Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees



As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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