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Business Helps One Million People To Grow Social Enterprises



Sword lessons by Hans Splint via flickr

New scheme to ‘invest’ high-flying business people’s skill to aid social enterprises in increasing yields.

New data, published today by Social Business Trust (SBT), shows how an innovative approach to helping social enterprises grow, by partnering them with business people from top companies, has resulted in one million people in need across the UK getting help.

The milestone is announced today by SBT, a charity that has worked closely with seven world-class businesses, including global investment firm Permira, Credit Suisse and Thomson Reuters to support 20 carefully chosen social enterprises – selected from reviews of over 900 social enterprises – to scale-up.

The social enterprises work with some of the most disadvantaged people in society including children struggling in education, isolated elderly people and unemployed young people. With hands-on, in-depth support from business people more used to dealing with the cut and thrust of commercial companies, they have, on average more than doubled the number of people supported in the first two years of working with SBT. Collectively, they have now helped one million people whilst working with SBT since it launched six years ago by providing over 25,000 hours of corporate volunteers’ time.

SBT was set by businessman Sir Damon Buffini and serial social entrepreneur Adele Blakebrough MBE to see whether business professionals could use their skills in fields like strategy, finance and human resources to help outstanding social enterprises increase their impact significantly and sustainably.

Key success stories include:

· Social integration charity The Challenge, which with SBT’s support has grown from working with 500 young people to 49,000 annually in just seven years. Help provided includes strategy development, in-depth legal support and extensive operational assistance sourced from companies including consultants Bain & Company, law firm Clifford Chance and Permira. The Challenge CEO, Oliver Lee OBE, says they could not have achieved that without SBT’s support, to the value so far of £2,300,000.

· London Early Years Foundation, now the largest UK social enterprise nursery group growing from 23 to 38 nurseries whilst working with SBT. Support provided has spanned areas including strategy, legal advice, pay and reward, fee structures, financial modelling and more, from companies including British Gas and EY. Its CEO June O’Sullivan MBE says LEYF would have found it extremely difficult to grow to that extent without SBT.

· Shakespeare Schools Festival which, with SBT’s support is now giving 30,000 children every year, from primary, secondary and special schools the opportunity to perform Shakespeare excerpts in professional theatres across the UK. Participants, almost a quarter of whom are disadvantaged students, see a demonstrable increase in their confidence and literacy. CEO Ruth Brock says she sees SBT’s involvement as ‘absolutely pivotal’.

Adele Blakebrough, SBT’s CEO said:

“By bringing people from these different worlds together, we can help excellent social enterprise grow from small scale, local operations to major players with scope to tackle the massive social problems we face as a nation.”

“What makes SBT different is the quality of engagement. We aim to invest the skills and expertise of world-class businesses to support the growth of the best social enterprises in the UK so they can help many more people in need. That in-kind help isn’t just an add-on, it’s the core element of the support we give.”

“As well as bringing huge benefits for our social enterprises we find that the business people get a lot out of the experience too from extending their networks and using their skills in different environment. We’re delighted to have reached this milestone and are excited for the future.”


What Sustainable Real Estate Investors Look For In Properties They Buy



sustainable real-estate investors
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Monster Ztudio |

Investors choose the homes they buy, sell, or flip based on a variety of factors. The most crucial factor is the potential for profit, but there are additional factors that contribute equal weight to the final decision. One of those factors has to do with sustainability.

An article from Green Residential discusses several green construction methods, citing the fact that 56% of CO2 emissions in the US come from new building construction. Noting that 39% of CO2 emissions come from existing buildings, the article makes a good point, “This is the highest volume of emissions for any sector, and could be drastically reduced if builders and occupants updated their properties and had better practices.”

The updates and “better practices” center on sustainable construction. Even though a building has already been constructed, it’s never too late to incorporate aspects of sustainability. This applies to individual construction, as well as sustainable communities.

Sustainability is about more than materials

A sustainable building can be constructed with eco-friendly materials sourced locally. This eliminates the need to transport materials over long distances using excessive amounts of gasoline and other fuels. Sustainability is also about retaining the efficiency of the building’s heating and cooling systems.

Sustainable construction methods cost more upfront, but save money over time.

Renters – commercial and private – want energy efficiency

If an investor can own multiple energy efficient buildings, whether commercial or residential, they’ll have an easier time generating a stream of income from those sources.

People want to save money on their energy bills, especially when they have a large space to keep warm. It makes no difference if they use electric, propane, solar, or geothermal energy to heat their home – if the building isn’t built to be efficient, both cold and hot air will escape. This means they’ll have to run their heater or air conditioner continuously, which creates more wear and tear.

Sometimes the issue with an inefficient building isn’t money, but the wasted energy itself. Being off the grid doesn’t cost more money to heat and cool your space. However, no matter what energy source you use, it’s difficult to keep a drafty home warm.

If you’re using solar panels or a geothermal coil buried in your backyard, you still need to generate the energy to power your home. That energy can take time to generate. If your building is drafty, you can end up overtaxing your energy system trying to keep it warm. If you use appliances that hog energy, it doesn’t matter what type of energy you use, it’s going to be wasted.

What investors look for in a sustainable building

Investors interested in sustainable buildings look for the following prior to buying:

  • Location of the building. A building with windows facing opposite that of the rising and setting sun is ideal. The sun sets west and rises in the east, so a building that faces north to south will generally be less exposed to the sun. In the summer, this will prevent the need to run the air conditioning constantly, which saves on energy and, of course, money.
  • Energy efficient appliances. The appliances that are already installed in a residential building may not be a deal breaker, but they’re a big influence. It’s not always a big deal for an investor to switch out appliances, but it is an expense.
  • Insulation. Proper insulation can’t be stressed enough as one of the most important factors that contribute to a sustainable investor’s decision to buy a property. The purpose of insulation (in the walls) is to trap both hot and cold air to maintain the temperature inside the building.Ideally, inside of an energy efficient building you can run the heater or air conditioner for a period of time, and expect the temperature to remain the same for a while. It’s normal for the temperature to gradually change, but in a poorly insulated home, it will get cold or hot rapidly.
  • Insulated and sturdy window construction. Windows are not cheap to replace and can cost up to $1,000 each. Custom windows – those with unique shapes and sizes that aren’t standard – are especially expensive.

An investor wants windows that are sturdy enough to provide security in the event of a break-in, because that’s a great selling point to renters (or buyers if they’re flipping). However, more importantly, windows open a building up to enormous drafts. It’s the drafts from poorly insulated windows that often cause exorbitant heating and cooling costs.

To make a building energy-efficient and therefore sustainable, an investor might be willing to make certain improvements to the construction of the home, if they can recover their costs over time. However, efficient elements are best when implemented from the beginning, as more people are starting to realize. It’s the consumer demand for sustainability that’s driving greener construction methods, and soon, we can expect sustainable construction to be in the majority.

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How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



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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