Ryan K writes. Running a business is a big task, especially if you have a few people below you. There are all sorts of things to consider and one should be becoming greener. In a world, where cutting carbon emissions is becoming increasingly important for the earth, running an ethical business is a necessity for customers and business owners alike. So, how do you do it?
Green Your Commute
On average, American workers spend 47 hours a year commuting in rush hour traffic. That adds up to 23 billion gallons of gasoline and 3.7 billion hours that are wasted stuck in traffic every year. Some of this strain can be eased by walking, biking, taking public transportation, carpooling, or some creative combination of these options. If you don’t have an effective way of phasing your car out, think about utilizing a car sharing service such as Zipcar or Flexcar, or getting a scooter, motorcycle, electric vehicle or hybrid car. Some employers offer bonuses for carpool and bike commuters along with special perks for hybrid drivers. For those people who think riding a bike is for tattooed couriers and kids, think about getting an electronically assisted or high-tech folding bike.
Believe it or not, most power in an office is consumed by machinery that has been turned off but is plugged in a live outlet still. Standby power is an unnecessary and huge expense and environmental culprit. Programs such as Surveyor can be used to automate and improve this process through automatically powering down business computers after office hours.
Get Rid Of Screen Savers
Institute a company policy that forbids using screen savers. Set your computer monitors to power off instead after the same length of time. That is just as easy anyway.
Consider Using Solar Power
It is true that solar energy systems tend to be expensive, and depending on you your office setup and location isn’t always practical. However, your initial investment can provide you long-term savings. Also, many states these days offer incentives for users of solar energy, such as rebates and being able to sell your extra energy to your utility company.
To offset residual emissions that you aren’t able to mitigate or reduce beyond what you have done already, make use of a reputable carbon offset program. Being carbon neutral is definitely worth pursuing. Introducing alternative forms of energy such as solar panels or a commercial water source heat pump could greatly help to lower carbon offset.
Choose Green Hosting
Switching over to green web hosting is one of the more overlooked ideas for going green. It has a high impact and negligible cost since it allows you to reduce the amount of indirect emissions coming from your carbon footprint. It also allows you to display an eco-label on your business website so that visitors can see the attempts you are making to reduce your Information Technology environmental impact.
Work from Home
Video conferencing, instant messaging, and other innovative and productive workflow tools allow effective telecommuting to be possible. If you are able to take online classes, conduct phone conferences, telecommute, or work from home in any way, you should try it out. It can save all of the time you would be spending on your commute and is better for the air and environment as well. You also can work from home via a virtual office in your pyjamas, which is an added bonus. Currently 44 million Americans telecommute. You can also consider working a consolidated work week by working four ten-hour days rather than five eight-hour ones if that is available to you. This cuts 20% of your time and energy spent on commuting and you will have three-day weekends as well.
Use Natural Light
Approximately 40 percent of total electricity consumption in the average office building is used by artificial lighting, and nearly twenty five percent of all electricity used in the U.S. This is often unnecessary. Whenever possible, open up your blinds and allow the daylight to come in. Also don’t leave your lights on after everyone has gone home for the night.
Have Motion Sensors Installed
Take a tour of your office. Make a note of how many conference rooms and offices have lights on even when no one is using the space. Rather than depending on employees to make sure lights are turned off when they leave, have motion-activated light switches installed. They turn lights on for certain periods of time (e.g. 15 minutes) when someone walks by the switch or moves around in the room.
Use Light Colours to Decorate With
When you use high-gloss sheens and light wall colours, less artificial light is needed because natural light reflects off of walls more easily.
Use Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
Compared to incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs consume 75 percent less energy. They also last around 10 times as long. So you will save on your replacement bulb costs, energy costs and reduce the amount of waste you use. They are available in different wattages and sizes. Soft sheens are also available that are not as stark and garish as previous versions were. You won’t need to convert any equipment; any light using incandescent bulbs will be also able to use compact fluorescent bulbs.
Develop A Company Environmental Policy
Develop and implement a company environmental policy. There are guides available that will help you write an effective environmental policy.
Ensure staff are trained
Ensuring staff are trained to the highest levels can be a great way to ensure that your business is being as ethical as possible. Whether that’s first aid training courses, environmental awareness or otherwise – there are loads of ways to do so.
Measuring your carbon footprint will help you identify where the greatest impact lies and help inform you what you can do to reduce it.
These tips will help your business become a greener and more efficient one in the coming year, helping to make a notable difference.
Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?
The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?
The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.
Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.
The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.
Introducing New Technology
The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.
- To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
- Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
- Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.
How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy
Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.
The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.
The Internet of Things
Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.
Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.
It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.
“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)
The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.
4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy
Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.
However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?
A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.
1. Boulder Nissan
When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:
- Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
- They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
- Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.
This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.
2. Valley Electric Association
In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.
“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”
The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.
This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.
3. Las Vegas Casinos
A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.
“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”
There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.
4. Boston College
Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.
Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.
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