This 8 minute video shows how Linfox is going about reducing its carbon emissions. What stands out for me in this video is the broad commitment across the organisation to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Use it to help inspire a similar commitment in your organisation.
Archive for the ‘Carbon conservation’ Category
McKinsey says energy efficiency could reduce energy use by $1.2 trillion – but reinforces the dangerous viewpoint “think climate – think government”Saturday, August 1st, 2009
A new report has identified that the USA could reduce its energy consumption by 23% by 2020 through energy efficiency.
The report has been prepared by McKinsey and Company, who are well known for their studies on the economics of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
McKinsey however says that this sort of saving is not easily achieved. Three types of barriers to the uptake of energy efficiency are identified in their report – structural, behavioural and availability. They say that these barriers need to be overcome to realise the full potential of energy efficiency across the economy.
Structural barriers are those that prevent an end user of energy from saving energy. For example a tenant typically has no control over the type of heating and cooling system in the building.
Behavioural barriers are those where ignorance or unwillingness to act mean energy efficient solutions aren’t implemented. An example that we see quite often in commercial buildings is ignorance about the time the air conditioning starts in the morning. Often it will be starting two hours or more before the building is occupied in the morning – which is wasteful if it only takes half an hour to get the building to a comfortable temperature.
Availability barriers are those where the user wants to reduce energy, but can’t access the solution or technology, often for cash-flow or cost reasons. For example, a business with tight cash flow that knows its HVAC system is a clunker, but doesn’t have the cash for an upgrade.
The report proposes various solutions to these barriers, mostly showing what government could do. The prescriptions appear valid for any government, not just the US. If you are in government, or have some influence in government circles, this report is worthwhile looking at.
Whilst these sorts of reports can be useful, they come with the implicit message “Think climate change – think government.” Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because another report is recommending the government do more, that it’s the sole responsibility of government to cut greenhouse gas emissions. There is a lot you can do yourself, and with focus and creativity these barriers can be overcome. Your organisation could probably cost effectively achieve a 23% saving from energy efficiency within a couple of years if you make this a priority. And the greater the number of individuals and organisations who make this a priority, the greater the impact.
Go to the department of climate change’s website and you’ll see the slogan “think climate, think change”.
Here in Melbourne the department of climate change’s slogan could be rephrased as “Think climate - watch change”.
In the 1980s vehicle number plates here in Melbourne proudly bore the slogan “Victoria – the garden state”. Fast forward twenty years to 2009 and Melbourne is now the driest capital city in Australia. Six months ago we had our worst ever bush fires. The newspapers this week have been saying that fire danger is going to be even worse next summer.
This is precisely what most governments have been doing for a long time now – thinking climate – watching change - and not doing enough. The Australian Government ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, along with most of the rest of the world, back in 1992 (yes, SEVENTEEN years ago!). Back in 1992 this is what Australia and many other countries agreed to:
“Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage,lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures [to anticipate, prevent or minimise the causes of climate change]”, UNFCCC, 1992
“Think climate, think change” is a start – yes we need to think about this issue – but we need to go beyond thinking to action – all of us, not just the government. I much prefer the message developed by Darebin City Council – “think climate, make change”. Now.
You can reduce your own carbon footprint significantly if you want to. You can encourage those you know to do the same. And if you are an entrepreneur – think up solutions that cut carbon emissions then make them a reality, like Shai Agassi at Better Place. “I’m an imagineer. I imagine the future and engineer towards it.”
Reflecting on my interviews with various leaders in the energy efficiency space there are five things you must have to successfully reduce energy use and carbon emissions.
First you need leadership commitment.
Second you need a measurement and monitoring system. Whether you are a school (listen to Hannah Lewis, Westernport Secondary College, which has halved its energy use in the last four years) or a major corporation such as Wesfarmers, you must be able to track your progress.
Third you need more than one person active and driving the program. Witness Linfox, where a few programmers voluntarily took on the extra project of building a carbon tracking tool.
Fourth you need a well informed plan as to what you need to do. An energy audit by experienced energy efficiency engineers will provide this.
Fifth, you need investment. Money is needed to get the savings. The money could be spent on people (eg the driver training undertaken by LinfoX) or technology (eg lighting upgrades at Darebin City Council and Newcastle City Council, or the new paint plant at Toyota).
Do this and with time you’ll have a self-funding system that will continue to reduce your energy use and carbon footprint.
Yesterday Better Place announced that Canberra would be the first site in the national rollout of its electric vehicle recharge network.
Construction of the network will begin in 2011, with services available to electric vehicle owners from 2012.
ActewAGL – the electricity distribution business and retailer in the ACT – responsible for sourcing and distributing the renewable energy that Better Place will use to power electric vehicles within the ACT. “A significant influence on our decision to choose Canberra was the enthusiasm and support we have received from Michael Costello and his team at ActewAGL” said Evan Thornley, Chief Executive Officer of Better Place Australia.
The deployment of the network will include:
- Recyclable lithium-ion batteries that will power the electric vehicles and be provided as part of the service to drivers, reducing the up-front costs of purchasing an electric vehicle;
- Charge spots in homes, offices, shopping centres and other car parks where drivers can plug in to keep their battery fully charged; and
- “Battery Swap Stations” where motorists can drive in and have a depleted battery automatically exchanged for a fresh, fully charged one.
The vision of Shai Agassi, Better Place founder, is for electric vehicles to be cheaper and more convenient than fossil fuel powered cars. Australia is one of three countries where the technology is being rolled out globally. Its great to see this vision now being translated into concrete plans.
Linfox is well known for the “You are passing another Fox” sign on the back of its vehicles. But the company has also cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 9% in the last eighteen months, and is on track to cut its emissions by 15% by December 2010.
I had the privilege of interviewing David McInnes, Group Manager Environment and Climate Change yesterday and being inspired about Linfox’s approach to the climate change challenge. It was refreshing not to hear the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme mentioned once in the interview. Linfox is reducing its carbon emissions because it wants to, not because its being forced to, and is quietly getting on with it.
So how does a organisation with 15,000 staff, whose carbon emissions mostly come from diesel consumed in trucks, reduce its per km emission by 9% in eighteen months? You can find the interview on our “Good News Interviews” page.
For me a couple of the standouts from the interview were:
- Their staff engagement program. Almost all of their savings have come about by making better use of what they already have, rather than investing in new technology. This has been achieved by getting their staff involved in changing the way things are done and in how trucks and buildings are operated, and making hundreds of small changes.
- Their carbon accounting system – developed in-house. Linfox programmers set up their SAP system such that now monthly carbon reports can be generated, down to the level of individual trucks if necessary. A consistent theme of all organisations cutting their carbon footprints is their focus on accurately and frequently tracking their emissions
- David’s recommendation to any organisation wishing to cut their carbon footprint to undertake an energy audit, which provides the business case for action. Thanks for the plug for my profession David!
After the interview we discussed Linfox’s Greenfox program, and I wish I had left the voice recorder on. This is a fantastic program. Staff can become a Greenfox by passing five training modules. Everyone who completes the training gets a framed certificate, and drivers who complete the training get a Greenfox badge on the shoulder of their uniform. David mentioned that Greenfox’s often become ambassadors, with truck drivers going to their kid’s schools and talking about climate change.
Also not covered in the interview was the great help David got from Linfox’s IT department in modifying SAP. Normally there is a long queue in the organisation for projects requiring SAP changes. The carbon accounting adjustments though were undertaken by the SAP programmers on top of their normal requirements, such was their commitmen to the company reducing its carbon footprint.
Finally David also spoke off the record about the need to focus less on the science and more on the community and the emotional response that when sparked can result in great change.
As one of Australia’s larger businesses Linfox is taking a leadership role by getting on with reducing its corporate carbon footprint. David McInnes is providing inspirational leadership. Take half an hour to listen to David McInnes and I guarantee you’ll come away motivated and hopeful about what is possible if we focus on cutting carbon emission.