Carbon Conservation & Energy Efficiency


Bruce Rowse & Team

Archive for March, 2009

Save water save money

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

This blog aims to show how improving water and resource efficiency within a business not only improves the environment but also a business’s bottom line.

Australia is the driest inhabited continent in the world yet we have the highest consumption per person in the developed world, we also have extremely poor recycling practices with less than 3% recycling of waste water in Australia. Much of the reason for this excessive usage and indiscriminate wastage is due to the commonly accepted belief that we could never run out of water nor over pollute water bodies. Our water resources have been exploited since European settlement to promote economic and demographic growth and employment generation with no thoughts toward long term sustainability.   

Improving the way we use water in daily business operations has an immediate impact on the environment by reducing the depletion of our rivers and catchments and at the same time reducing the disposal of this water into the marine environment where it causes widespread environmental damage. Environmental improvement is essential for a sustainable future in Australia, but what part should business play in bringing this about?

 Improving the environment goes hand in hand with improving business performance. In fact you can’t have one without the other. Both are about using resources effectively. Businesses use various resources e.g. the workplace, labour, utilities and consumables. Importantly the use of all of these resources has associated costs that directly affect the profitability of business.  So it makes sense to use all of these resources as effectively as possible.

Businesses that improve their business performance by reducing their use of resources not only are better able to compete in the market place but are indirectly reducing the depletion or pollution of our environment. 

To demonstrate this take this example for water- A business pays to purchase water and pays to have the same water disposed into the ocean. There are costs associated at both ends. If you can reuse the wastewater you produce (e.g. for plant watering), you can reduce costs associated with its disposal. If however, you can reduce the amount of water you use in the first place you reduce both the costs for its purchase and disposal. This is the same with all resources, whether it is energy, consumables/waste or water. When you consider that unseen leaks are a major area of water consumption in businesses, you can see that business can unnecessarily be wasting money and resources at the expense of the business itself and the environment. Reducing consumption at the source is the key!        

Reducing resource usage is therefore an excellent opportunity for businesses to be competitive and save the environment. But there is another benefit that can be gained from a business improving its resource use, namely selling these environmental improvements to the customers to increase market share. Customers increasingly want environmental accountability from business and there is no better way than doing it than reducing resource use.

Business operators typically understand the benefits in being “seen to be green”, but often miss the opportunity available by not reaping the financial savings that can be gained with environmental improvement.

Ultimately, it is up to individual businesses to pursue resource efficiency and derive the full benefits from improvements to their resource use. As a whole however businesses will become more resourceful and greener in the future. The reason for this is that businesses that don’t simply won’t be able to survive in a highly competitive and frugal market place.   

Forget the CPRS – its up to you

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

This blog aims to show how acting vigorously to reduce carbon emissions is good for the environment and good for business. That it is possible to create a “win-win” with the right approach. The Emissions Trading Scheme – officially known as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) clearly, as explained in earlier blog posts, is climate negative - its not good for the environment.  

Various blogs today responding to the release of the draft CPRS legislation by Climate Change Minister Penny Wong point out that its not just bad for the environment – it goes so far in its compensation to major emittors that its actually good for big business. refer to a study commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation which shows that many of the major polluters will actually benefit from the CPRS as a result of the free permits handed out. The Crikey post summarises this as follows “So let’s be clear: the the Government’s rationale for amending its already-generous ETS so that it rewarded big polluters was not to prevent the loss of jobs and emissions overseas, but to ensure the profitability of big polluters.”

Paul Gilding in the Business Spectator writes “This is as good a deal as business will get. It is easy to imagine a future government, when the icecaps have melted, the cyclones are hitting and the fires are burning, imposing a much tougher regime than the one currently on the table. The CPRS is a bad deal for the climate but it’s a great deal for business. Take it and run or you’ll rue the day you didn’t.

So lets summarise the above. The CPRS is bad for the climate, but good for big business. Its lose-win legislation – a loss for the environment and a win for those businesses that are major pollutors. In the short term anyway its a win for the major polluters, but in the long run won’t be - big business managers and shareholders won’t be immune to the effects of dangerous climate change.

Which brings me back to the argument that those of us who want to be climate positive need to be coming up with ways of reducing carbon pollution that are also great for the hip-pocket - in the short to medium term and not just in the long term. With products and services that business willingly buy because its good for the bottom line as well as being good for the environment. And that we need to be making the CPRS irrelevant – by making it so easy to be sustainable that its foolish not to. We have clarity now that the CPRS won’t cut emissions, and may actually put a floor on the amount of emissions reduction that can be achieved. Hopefully this flaw will be removed over the next few months as the legislation is debated. But we have a heck of of an innovation and entrepreneurial challenge!

And there is also a tremendous social challenge – the challenge of changing society to the point where carbon pollution becomes abhorrent and morally repugnant – for most of us.

If you care about future climate stability I’d encourage you to act as a carbon-saving innovator or entrepreneur, or to influence to create a society that is carbon-intolerant, and not put too much faith in the CPRS.

Overnight energy audit saves $50,000

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

We assume so much in life, both personally and at work. Our assumptions and reality aren’t always the same. An occasional “reality check” can be very valuable. I wonder what expensive assumptions our organisations might harbour?

One of our clients, a medium size organisation somewhere in Australia, discovered in a very easy way that they were unnecessarily using $50,000 extra electricity each year.

It only took an overnight audit to discover this fantastic wastage. It was done by their staff as participants in our Greenhouse Gossip program

Most staff would shut down their computers when leaving work. No one was there to see that many of the computers were turning themselves back on around 8pm! Really, who would expect that?

After their audit, the staff came back the next day, to speak to the staff members whose computers were on. They discussed this and discovered the problem. By speaking to staff in other buildings in their organisation, and the ICT people, they discovered it was across the organisation.

The problem is now solved and they have an additional $50,000 to use each year from that one building (plus other savings identified and implemented in the program).

This is the kind of benefit that a structured, inquiring program can deliver.