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The Green Doctors: making the world more sustainable

A ‘Green Doctor’ might sound like someone who nurtures shrubbery back to full health, but in reality, it’s a project driven by sustainability ethics. Anna Duggal took a look into it.

In the UK, a shocking 3.4 billion litres of water are wasted by the water industry every day, making it a valuable commodity being carelessly exhausted.

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A ‘Green Doctor’ might sound like someone who nurtures shrubbery back to full health, but in reality, it’s a project driven by sustainability ethics. Anna Duggal took a look into it.

In the UK, a shocking 3.4 billion litres of water are wasted by the water industry every day, making it a valuable commodity being carelessly exhausted.

Amazingly, Syria and Sudan – countries of mainly desert – have more water available per head than the South East of England, so says the Environment Agency.

In a bid to decelerate our water wastage, amongst other things, a UK charity is taking matters into its own hands.

Groundwork has many initiatives available throughout the country to promote community work, help young people with skills training and employability, and encourage a greener way of life.

Through its Green Doctor project, it specialises in advising and equipping households with all they need to improve and reduce their use of energy and water, therefore lowering their bills.

The specialists offer home visits and workshops for groups of residents to advise them how to run their home more sustainably, and ultimately, more economically.

The first Groundwork project began in the recession of the 1980s, with the backing of then environmental secretary Michael Heseltine. It was so successful that it was developed and duplicated across the country.

As the charity has grown, its work has involved more schemes, with each trust having a specific area to focus upon.

The Green Doctor programme operates across the country, including cities such as London, Leeds, Cheshire, Sheffield and Southampton. In the South East, a Green Doctor programme is being delivered in collaboration with Southern Water – where advice is given specifically about saving water, energy and money.

Southern Water has set up a Universal Metering Programme. As the region has been classed by Defra – the Department for Environment, Food and and Rural Affairs – as an area of ‘serious water stress’, Southern Water will introduce water meters for 92% of its customers, based on the knowledge that people on a water meter tend to use 10% less water.

Katie Pereira, Groundwork UK project officer, described its work in the region, saying, “This programme will create an opportunity for over 55,000 customers across the South East to have a Green Doctor visit, with free water efficiency devices and sign-posting to the support available from agencies such as the Energy Saving Trust”.

The scheme has been proven successful with a trial on the Isle of Wight, in which meters were fitted in 93% of properties on the island. The customers now use a more sustainable 122 litres of water per person, per day compared to the average which is 173 litres. You can calculate your own, or your family’s usage with this Water Calculator on the BBC website.

Pereira continued, “At Groundwork, we want to help people to live and work in a cleaner and greener way.

“Southern Water wants to help its customers reduce their water and energy consumption to help create a sustainable future. This programme makes for a natural fit.”

Saving water can also save energy – taps, baths and showers contribute around 30% of the household’s average energy bill, which is around £200 a year.

The Green Doctor project has already drawn plaudits for its work. The Calderdale branch received a Yorkshire Post Environmental Award for its project, which focuses on tackling climate change.

With awareness growing on economic subjects throughout the country, we are now in charge of creating the outcome of our world.

Pereira concluded, “The aim has to be helping our communities to become more resilient against global economic and environmental events that are beyond their control”.

The Green Doctor project is helping this information filter to all types of households, so that we can all contribute our part towards saving the planet.

Especially for readers of Blue & Green Tomorrow, below are five easy and helpful tips for saving water, straight from the Green Doctor scheme:

Bath or shower?

A bath uses around 80 litres of water, whereas a water efficient shower only uses about 30 litres if you have a water saving, four minute shower – invest in an egg timer for your bathroom!

Cleaning your teeth

Turn the tap off while you brush your teeth and rinse at the end with a mug of water. A family of four can save a bathful of water every day by following this example.

Flushing the loo

Flushing the toilet accounts for about a third of all the water we use in our homes. You can install an easy to fit Save-a-flush bag or fit a modern dual flush toilet to reduce the amount of water you use.

Washing machines

Using an efficient machine, a full load a day uses nearly 22,000 litres a year and costs about £65 just for the water. An inefficient machine will use about 10,000 litres more per year and cost an extra £30.

Boiling the kettle

Filling the kettle to the brim wastes power as well as water – only boil as much water as you need for a cup of tea or coffee, but make sure the element is covered.

These measures are just a tiny proportion of what needs to be done to make our water usage more sustainable. Blue & Green Tomorrow would suggest that in order to make a sizeable print, investment in ethical funds, which in turn invest in water sustainability technologies, is imperative.

One such fund – the IM WHEB Sustainability fund – focuses on global water resource shortages as one of its three main themes.

Furthermore, converting your home to renewable energy will aid the UK’s sustainable progression. Look at Good Energy who will guide you through relevant ideas.

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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