The UK Green Investment Bank plc (GIB) has provided a Green Loan to help Stirling Council save £31m over the next 30 years by installing energy saving streetlights.
Stirling Council is borrowing £9.87m from GIB and will install light-emitting diodes (LEDs) instead of traditional sodium lightbulbs in12,000 streetlights over four financial years.
The council will also replace 4,000 of the columns (or lampposts), marking a major investment in infrastructure for the county.
Stirling is expected to cut its streetlight power consumption by 63% and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 14,400 tonnes over the lifetime of the project. The energy saved each year would be equivalent to the total electricity consumed by over 850 homes.
GIB launched its Green Loan for local councils to help them reduce their streetlight electricity bills by up to 80%. The Green Loan offers UK local authorities a low, fixed-rate financial arrangement over a period of up to 30 years. It has been specifically designed to finance public sector energy efficiency projects where repayments are less than the savings realised.
The UK currently spends about £300m a year powering its seven million streetlights, with fewer than one million lamps so far using low-energy LEDs.
Stirling is following in the footsteps of local authorities in Glasgow and Southend-on-Sea, making it the second council in Scotland and the third in the UK to take out a GIB Green Loan to replace its inefficient and costly old street lamps with modern, energy efficient models.
GIB and its legal adviser Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP have standardised the Green Loan investment process to save the public sector time and money in agreeing a financing package for energy efficiency projects.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “This is another good example of investment by the Green Investment Bank in energy efficiency. The Scottish Government has designated energy efficiency as an infrastructure investment priority that looks to build on our track record in renewables in demonstrating the multiple benefits from investing in low carbon infrastructure.”
Scotland Office Minister Andrew Dunlop said: “This is an excellent initiative and I commend Stirling Council for being part of it. This scheme will deliver a triple-whammy – safe, brightly-lit streets for Stirling, a long-term cash saving for the council and a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the area.
“Stirling has now joined Glasgow in taking advantage of this opportunity and it is something I hope other Scottish local authorities will look at closely too.”
Edward Northam, Head of Investment Banking, GIB, said: “Replacing its existing streetlights with more efficient and cost effective alternatives will see Stirling Council make immediate budget savings while contributing to the wider movement to decarbonise our economy. There are signs that more and more local authorities are considering the benefits of the spend-to-save approach, with Stirling becoming the third UK council to opt for a Green Loan.”
Stirling Council’s Director of Housing and Environment Robert Steenson said: “We are investing in the LED streetlights both to save money and make sure that Stirling Council provides high-quality services that are as sustainable as possible. We are very pleased to have worked with the UK Green Investment Bank on this deal.”
The council modelled the cost-savings of the project using a streetlighting toolkit developed by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), the company setup by the Scottish Government in 2008 to help ensure value-for-money in public sector spending.
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!