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.
Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis
Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.
Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long will my retirement savings last?”
Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.
Tip #1: Focus & Determination
Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.
Tip #2: Minimize Spending
One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!
Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal
You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.
Investing in Clean Energy
One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.
With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.
The Future of Green Biz
As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.
Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.
In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!
What Should We Make of The Clean Growth Strategy?
It was hardly surprising the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS) was much anticipated by industry and environmentalists. After all, its publication was pushed back a couple of times. But with the document now in the public domain, and the Government having run a consultation on its content, what ultimately should we make of what’s perhaps one of the most important publications to come out of the Department for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the past 12 months?
The starting point, inevitably, is to decide what the document is and isn’t. It is, certainly, a lengthy and considered direction-setter – not just for the Government, but for business and industry, and indeed for consumers. While much of the content was favourably received in terms of highlighting ways to ensure clean growth, critics – not unjustifiably – suggested it was long on pages but short on detailed and finite policy commitments, accompanied by clear timeframes for action.
A Strategy, Instead of a Plan
But should we really be surprised? The answer, in all honesty, is probably not really. BEIS ministers had made no secret of the fact they would be publishing a ‘strategy’ as opposed to a ‘plan,’ and that gave every indication the CGS would set a direction of travel and be largely aspirational. The Government had consulted on its content, and will likely respond to the consultation during the course of 2018. And that’s when we might see more defined policy commitments and timeframes from action.
The second criticism one might level at the CGS is that indicated the use of ‘flexibilities’ to achieve targets set in the carbon budgets – essentially using past results to offset more recent failings to keep pace with emissions targets. Claire Perry has since appeared in front of the BEIS Select Committee and insisted she would be personally disappointed if the UK used flexibilities to fill the shortfall in meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, but this is difficult ground for the Government. The Committee on Climate Change was critical of the proposed use of efficiencies, which would somewhat undermine ministers’ good intentions and commitment to clean growth – particularly set against November’s Budget, in which the Chancellor maintained the current carbon price floor (potentially giving a reprieve to coal) and introduced tax changes favourable to North Sea oil producers.
A 12 Month Green Energy Initiative with Real Teeth
But, there is much to appreciate and commend about the CGS. It fits into a 12-month narrative for BEIS ministers, in which they have clearly shown a commitment to clean growth, improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions. Those 12 months have seen the launch of the Industrial Strategy – firstly in Green Paper form, which led to the launch of the Faraday Challenge, and then a White Paper in which clean growth was considered a ‘grand challenge’ for government. Throughout these publications – and indeed again with the CGS – the Government has shown itself to be an advocate of smart systems and demand response, including the development of battery technology.
Electrical Storage Development at Center of Broader Green Energy Push
While the Faraday Challenge is primarily focused on the development of batteries to support the proliferation of electric vehicles (which will support cuts to carbon emissions), it will also drive down technology costs, supporting the deployment of small and utility-scale storage that will fully harness the capability of renewables. Solar and wind made record contributions to UK electricity generation in 2017, and the development of storage capacity will help both reduce consumer costs and support decarbonisation.
The other thing the CGS showed us it that the Government is happy to be a disrupter in the energy market. The headline from the publication was the plans for legislation to empower Ofgem to cap the costs of Standard Variable Tariffs. This had been an aspiration of ministers for months, and there’s little doubt that driving down costs for consumers will be a trend within BEIS policy throughout 2018.
But the Government also seems happy to support disruption in the renewables market, as evidenced by the commitment (in the CGS) to more than half a billion pounds of investment in Pot 2 of Contracts for Difference (CfDs) – where the focus will be on emerging rather than established technologies.
This inevitably prompted ire from some within the industry, particularly proponents of solar, which is making an increasing contribution to the UK’s energy mix. But, again, we shouldn’t really be surprised. Since the subsidy cuts of 2015, ministers have given no indication or cause to think there will be public money afforded to solar development. Including solar within the CfD auction would have been a seismic shift in policy. And while ministers’ insistence in subsidy-free solar as the way forward has been shown to be based on a single project, we should expect that as costs continue to be driven down and solar makes record contributions to electricity generation, investment will follow – and there will ultimately be more subsidy-free solar farms, albeit perhaps not in 2018.
Meanwhile, by promoting emerging technologies like remote island wind, the Government appears to be favouring diversification and that it has a range of resources available to meet consumer demand. Perhaps more prescient than the decision to exclude established renewables from the CfD auction is the subsequent confirmation in the budget that Pot 2 of CfDs will be the last commitment of public money to renewable energy before 2025.
In short, we should view the CGS as a step in the right direction, albeit one the Government should be elaborating on in its consultation response. Its publication, coupled with the advancement this year of the Industrial Strategy indicates ministers are committed to the clean growth agenda. The question is now how the aspirations set out in the CGS – including the development of demand response capacity for the grid, and improving the energy efficiency of commercial and residential premises – will be realised.
It’s a step in the right direction. But, inevitably, there’s much more work to do.
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