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Why is the ‘greenest government ever’ reportedly curbing onshore wind?

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A source close to the Conservatives this week said that David Cameron could pledge to cut back on onshore wind farms in the party’s next election manifesto. Such claims have received fierce opposition.

We should be extremely worried that a mainstream political party has decided to condemn turbines as a blot on the countryside. Although the revelation created a rift within the coalition, with Nick Clegg said to be vehemently opposed to such a policy, it raises serious questions as to the government’s commitment to sustainability.

Clegg, deputy prime minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, said he would veto any plans by the Conservatives to roll back support for onshore wind. The energy secretary Ed Davey, also a Lib Dem, reinforced the government’s commitment to renewable energy, saying that the UK was one of the leaders in offshore wind. A good diversion from what appears to be happening.

There is however, a significant difference in offshore and onshore wind: although the latter is said to be a “blot on the countryside”, the pros for communities can greatly outweigh the cons. Many energy firms and developers promise, as part of the proposition for the development of sites, to give donations and profits to local communities. For many cash strapped councils that are seeing their budgets slashed by central government, this can be welcome in helping to mitigate the effects of services that are being cut back.

What’s more, residents in areas where sites are operational receive reductions on their energy bills. The group Community Energy said that in June 2013 alone, it saved over £100,000 on household energy bills in Yorkshire and Manchester through the development of community energy projects. Additionally, developers often offer residents the chance to own wind farms, using crowdfunding schemes that benefit the people on the ground.

When one puts this in comparison with offshore wind, the vital question that we should be asking is: who exactly is benefiting from development on a large scale? Of course, the most obvious answer is the environment. Offshore wind can and should be a significant component of the energy mix of a country surrounded by seas.

However, profits generally go to the developers; companies such as the big six energy firms, which already monopolise the energy market. Meanwhile, local communities can benefit financially from the development of smaller, onshore farms.

It’s not a case of pitting onshore wind against offshore wind; both are vital parts of the UK’s energy future for very different reasons. But as the most developed and cost-effective form of renewable energy available, it would be foolish to scale back the development of onshore turbines.

Commenting on such reports, Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of trade body RenewableUK, said the UK needed onshore wind “to drive energy bills down in the long-term”.

He added, “The fact that these rumours are being allowed to continue about such a popular technology means that every energy and infrastructure investor in the country will be wondering, ‘Who’s next?’ The message going out is that if a vocal minority complain about popular much needed infrastructure the prime minister is unwilling to defend it. That’s bad for investor confidence across the board.”

For a party that once promised to be the “greenest government ever”. And this latest rumour would only reinforce the fact that they have been anything but.

What they will leave behind is a desire to frack two-thirds of Britain, all the while fumbling around with the renewable energy resources that we know the UK has in abundance. Meanwhile, the party seems prepared to stand up for the views of a small band of voters who feel that turbines are eyesores.

The very nature of conservatism is to protect not only the hierarchical structures of society, but the environment which gives us the conditions in which we can live a good quality of life. Playing up methods such as fracking goes against that basic principle. Disregarding the fact it may have very real impacts on the water table and the earth around drilling sites, shale gas extraction is at the most basic level pulling out yet another polluting fossil fuel.

How this latest political furore plays out may indeed be crucial ahead of the next election. We can only hope that it doesn’t prove to be a grave mistake for our economy, society and the environment on which we all depend.

Photo: Attilio Lombardo via stock.xchng

Further reading:

Conservatives could curb wind farms in 2015 manifesto

Unprecedented pollution, fines and wind farms

Conservatism and conservation: why Tories are born to be green

Public will vote for candidates that support wind farms, says poll

Vote Green (where they can win) if you care about the future

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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