Carbon Conservation & Energy Efficiency


Bruce Rowse & Team

Archive for the ‘Carbon conservation’ Category

One of the most dangerous newspaper headlines you’ll ever see – “Climate change is a lose-lose affair”

Friday, December 12th, 2008

This blog exists because of my belief that a vigorous response to the climate change challenge provides a win-win situation, not a lose – lose. Yet Fairfax Digital’s Independent Weekly has just come out with this headline “Climate change is a lose-lose affair”.

This sort of headline is very dangerous because it promotes fearful thinking, and fearful thinking will not get us out of the economic crisis and neither will it solve climate change.

Let me give just one example of how a vigorous response to the climate change challenge provides a double win. From a manufacturing company which uses a LOT of energy. Supposedly a company that would be a big loser from climate change. But not just any manufacturing company, one of the world’s largest manufacturing companies. Big company. Uses a lot of energy. Surely acting on climate change is a bad thing for this company?

But no, in actual fact responding vigorously to the climate change challenge has yielded multiple WINS for this company.

Over the last three years its Australian manufacturing plant has reduced direct carbon emissions per widget manufactured by a staggering 30%. WIN = big savings on its energy bills.

One of its widgets is synonymous with “green,” is the most energy efficient on the market, and there is a waiting list to buy it. WIN = growth in market share.

Its environmental credentials attract some the best and brightest in the industry to work for it. WIN = people are the key success factor in any business.

The company of course is Toyota Motor Corporation, and the widgets referred to above are cars. Andreas Kammel, Environmental Policy Manager of Toyota in Australia recently said to me “there are strong business opportunities on the back of climate change, climate change does not have to be something that is difficult even for an energy intense manufacturer such as ourselves.”

The Toyota sustainability report can be found at

Cars are a major source of greenhouse gas pollution, and I’m certainly not saying you should ditch your bicycle for a Prius. But I would not be surprised if Toyota is one of the first manufacturers to come out with a mass produced zero emissions vehicle. For Toyota, acting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is good for the company and less harmful to the environment. It’s a WIN-WIN not a lose-lose.

We are in a time of economic crisis, and moving into a period of great environmental crisis. The last thing we need is the poverty of thought promoted by media with negative headlines.

The three pre-requisites for sustainable carbon conservation

Friday, December 12th, 2008

As I’ve observed organisations that are successful in reducing their carbon emissions in an on-going way I’ve noticed that they all have three things in place before they begin to significantly cut their carbon:

  1. Leadership commitment. More often that not the most senior level managers will be on the environmental steering committee.
  2. A system in place for accurately measuring and tracking their emissions. They measure what they treasure – in this case their carbon savings.
  3. Wider commitment in their workplace to emissions reduction.

With these three pre-requisites in place these organisations are more likely to move forward to actually cut their carbon pollution.

What is a comfortable office temperature (2)

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

A comfortable office temperature doesn’t depend just on the temperature, there are other factors that come into play. These include the relative humidity, the temperature of surrounding surfaces and the speed of any air movements.

Craig Ryan of Johnson Controls has prompted this second posting with some good observations about humidity and comfort on my first posting on a comfortable office temperature.

The more humid it is, the higher the temperature feels. This is shown in the thermal comfort chart below.

thermal comfort diagram - humidity vs temperature

thermal comfort diagram - humidity vs temperature

In climates which are always hot, or climates that are mostly cold, our bodies acclimatise somewhat to these conditions. The chart above is most appropriate for cooler rather than hot climates.

Moving air makes it feel colder. When its hot creating air movement (eg through fans) can mean that air conditioning systems can be set to provide higher temperatures than would otherwise be the case.

Radiant temperatures of nearby surfaces also make us feel warmer or colder. Because of this sitting next to a large window in winter may still feel cold even though the inside air temperature is 22 degrees Celcius.

By operating heating and cooling systems out to the limits of what is perceived to be a comfortable temperature significant energy and greenhouse gas savings can be achieved. Attention also needs to be paid to air movement and surface radiant temperatures.

Skylights slash our need for artificial lighting.

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Last weekend six solar tube skylights were installed in our office, which occupies the top floor of a two storey building. The skylights have eliminated the need for artificial lighting in thirteen of our work spaces.

It was amazing watching the reaction of staff as they came in this morning, many couldn’t contain their excitement. “Its so much brighter.” “The quality of light is fantastic.” “We don’t need the lights on at all.”

The cost installed was $5,550. Our landlord agreed to pay half of the costs. As we were pretty frugal with our lighting to start with, and it was already efficient, the lighting energy cost savings won’t be large, in the order of $500 a year. We may have to run the air conditioner more in summer because of the heat gain from the skylights, but this may also cut heating energy use in winter. Assuming it balances out the payback for us as tenants will probably be around 5 to 6 years in terms of energy savings. However daylight also makes the workplace more attractive, and may improve productivity. So there will be other benefits in addition to the cost savings. And of course the greenhouse gas savings will reduce the amount of green-power we need to purchase. If we were buying black power the skylights would be expected to save us around 2.5 tonnes of greenhouse gas a year.

How a school can save $300 and 1.2 tonnes of CO2 this summer holidays

Friday, December 5th, 2008

Schools waste a great deal of energy over the summer school holidays.

In 2005 CarbonetiX worked with the Victorian Department of Education and Training to produce a School Energy Shut Down Guide and then promoted its use to schools around Victoria, just before the summer holidays. When we followed up in February 2006, over forty schools sent their bills to us for analysis. How much had been saved? And the results were surprising, even to us.

Over the 6 week summer holiday period we calculated that improved switch off practices resulted in schools saving an average of $429 each!

Based on this experience I estimate that on average most Australian schools have the opportunity to save around $300 and 1.3 tonnes of greenhouse gas simply be getting better at turning things off before the summer holidays. This correlates to potential savings Australia wide of $2.8 million and 12,400 tonnes of greenhouse gas – equivalent to the annual emissions of 2,900 cars!

To make it easy for schools to realize these savings we have developed the online School Summer Energy Shut Down Blitz. It’s a simple, fast way to quickly come up with an action plan for your school, and shows you what you need to shut down before the holidays start. And it costs nothing to use.

You can access the blitz at