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UK carbon emissions and key legislation changes

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With environmental concerns continuing to hit headlines, governments across the globe are taking initiatives to help alleviate the situation.

The UK, in particular, has taken steps forward in recent years, and legislation continues to evolve to support emissions reduction in line with international targets.

From the way we work, to the transport we use, the impact of climate change affects every part of our day-to-day lives – so it’s important we understand the policy changes that are being made to safeguard our environment. 

Net Zero Now 

From June 2019 this year, the government’s target to cut greenhouse gas emissions and achieve ‘net zero’ status by 2050 was officially signed into law. This makes the UK the first major economy to legislate to end its contribution to global warming.[1] This latest move is a more ambitious plan than the country’s previous target of an 80% emissions reduction by 2050, taking it one step further – cutting emissions to as close to zero as possible in the same time period.

Head of Corporate Affairs and Innovation at Flogas, David Taylor, said: “With so many premises still relying on high-carbon traditional off-grid fuels like oil – and heating making such a major contribution to current emissions levels – the transition to lower-carbon alternatives is long overdue. LPG is the cleanest, most efficient and effective conventional off-grid fuel, so it is uniquely placed to help reduce emissions immediately.

“Building on this, we see biopropane (or BioLPG) as a hugely significant part of the UK’s renewable future. Produced using biological sources(such as waste, sewage and energy crops), bioLPG is chemically-identical to LPG.

This means it can be simply ‘dropped in’ to the UK’s existing, comprehensive LPG network – so it will become increasingly important as we strive to meet the UK’s new 2050 net zero deadline.”

The Clean Growth Strategy

Another key part of the UK’s move towards a carbon-neutral future is the government’s Clean Growth Strategy – a plan brought into place to help accelerate the pace of ‘clean growth’ by decreasing emissions whilst simultaneously increasing economic growth.

Most notably, the Strategy aims to reduce carbon emissions in the six areas that together make up 100% of the UK’s emissions.[2] These are:

  • Improving business and industry efficiency (25% of UK emissions)
  • Improving efficiency within our homes (13% of UK emissions)
  • Increasing the shift to low-carbon transport (24% of UK emissions)
  • Delivering clean, smart, flexible power (21% of UK emissions)
  • Enhancing the benefits and value of our natural resources (15% of UK emissions)
  • Leading the public sector (2% of UK emissions)

To turn this vision into a reality, the government has pledged to roll out lower-carbon processes, systems and technologies nationwide – doing so in the most cost-effective way possible for businesses and homes alike.

Road to Zero Strategy

Introduced in July 2018, the Road to Zero strategy outlines the government’s plans on how it intends to slash road transport emissions and build a greener infrastructure. Part of this plan will be encouraging the uptake of zero-emission cars, vans and trucks, as part of the government’s mission to tackle air pollution and deliver cleaner air across the country. Changes such as putting a stop to the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040 is one of the most significant ways in which it intends to deliver this plan.[3]

In fact, the UK government is aiming for at least 50% (and as many as 70%) of new car registrations to be ultra-low emission by 2030, with a target for 40% for new vans.[4] What this means for the UK is that we’ll begin to see a huge rise in electric charging points as the government throws it weight behind the adoption of electric vehicles (EV).

Unfortunately, whilst the government remains steadfast in its aim to reduce carbon emissions, there have been some delays introducing Clean Air Zones (CAZs) into various UK cities. Most recently, Leeds and Birmingham have experienced delays with their digital vehicle checking tools, which allow drivers to check the type of emissions their cars produce. Delays to the introduction of this software are likely to push back their plans to introduce Clean Air Zones.[5]

The Paris Agreement 

Representing a huge step forward in the united fight against climate change, The Paris Agreement was the original catalyst for many of these recent legislation changes. It saw more than 200 countries take part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, resulting in an agreement that strengthened action for a more sustainable, low carbon future.

Essentially, all parties involved in The Paris Agreement (including the UK) have committed to limit temperature rises by no more than 2°C above pre-industrial times and, if possible, limit this further to 1.5°C.[6]

A regular five-year review will also take place to monitor progress as well as increased funding to developing countries to help keep them in line with similar national targets.







Sustainability pays: how to take care of the planet and your profits

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Being good to the environment is great for your business finances.

Taking control of your own energy needs – using onsite generation and storage – can reduce costs and cut carbon emissions. It will also protect your business from energy supply disruption.

Download our research report to discover the 4 steps you can take to accelerate your energy sustainability and improve your profits.

INFOGRAPHIC: UK businesses viewing energy as a key part of their sustainability strategy

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The latest research from Centrica has revealed a shift in priorities for UK businesses, with environmental and social responsibility joining financial performance and efficiency as a top 3 organisational priority for the first time.

But what is driving this change? Check out the infographic below for a full analysis:-

GUEST BLOG: Designing out food waste in hospitality – 4 stages to sustainability

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As the UK Government steps up its campaign to reduce food waste, the hospitality sector is firmly in the spotlight. No one can deny the sheer scale of the challenge ahead. The hospitality sector produces over 1 million tonnes of food waste each year, according to WRAP.

Yet while setting targets is essential to driving change, companies first need to establish a benchmark and determine up front the scale of the problem. Where is food waste occurring: is it from spoilage, preparation or plate scrapings? Then more importantly, why is food being wasted: is it a result of over procurement, incorrect food storage or inconsistent portion control?

David Coaton, Corporate Sector Director – Hospitality, SWRnewstar, outlines a proven four stage model for cutting food waste within hospitality – and it starts with segregating, measuring and tracking food waste production...

1. Understand scale

Targets for reducing food wastage are ambitious – with a goal to halve food waste by 2030. To date the Government has adopted a softly-softly approach. However, plans to encourage large businesses to publish their food waste statistics, plus DEFRA’s proposed mandatory food waste collections for households in England, are a clear indication of commitment. Indeed, the latter approach will further reinforce both the value of food segregation and public awareness of the scale of food waste across the hospitality sector.

Right now there is no specific legislation in place in England and Wales, unlike Scotland where any commercial business producing over 5kg of food per day has to segregate food waste by law. However, this is changing with a new UK Food Waste Champion and the government’s ‘Step Up to the Plate’ campaign. Along with other industry initiatives, including WRAP’s ‘Guardians of Grub’ and ‘Food waste, Bad taste’ from The Sustainable Restaurant Association which are actively encouraging food segregation to provide hospitality companies with an essential understanding of the scale, cost and cause of food waste.

There are so many factors that contribute to food waste, from over-buying stock to poor food storage and management and inadequate portion control – yet when all spoiled food disappears into the general waste bin there is absolutely no way to determine the cause of waste. However committed a company may be to improving sustainability, change cannot be achieved without fully understanding the level of food waste at every step of the process. By segregating and measuring food waste produced during preparation and cooking, plate scrape and stock clear out, a company can begin to see the trends in activity – and take steps to effect change.

2. Stop procuring waste

For any company still not convinced by the environmental drive to reduce food waste there is also a compelling financial argument for better food management – with companies saving £14 for every £1 invested in food reduction according to Champions 12.3 research. These savings are not derived solely from disposal costs, which are typically less than 1% of a company’s turnover, although there are undoubtedly savings to be made from maximising waste segregation. The very significant cost reductions are achieved by leveraging better understanding and smart procurement.

Growing numbers of hospitality companies now acknowledge they routinely procure waste by over specifying raw ingredients. In some cases this is due to suppliers’ minimum order value, which is a real problem for smaller businesses. But often it is because those placing the orders have no, or low, visibility of the level of wastage that occurs in the kitchen and cannot identify obvious problem areas. By segregating food waste at each step of the process, companies can reconsider spend – not only avoiding procuring waste but also looking again at processes for food storage, portion size and less popular menu items.

3. Gain employee commitment

The challenge in realising this sustainability goal is to get staff engaged in the process and that requires two key elements. Firstly, education and top level management focus. If a restaurant manager or chef is not committed to reducing food waste, nothing will change. And for chains with thousands of employees, with multiple different food production points, strong staff commitment is essential.

Staff buy in must be backed up by good processes. In a busy kitchen it is essential to make the segregation of food waste easy – if there is only one dedicated food bin, for example, hard pressed staff will likely resort to the general bin when the pressure is on. Simple steps in kitchen design can make a huge difference. For example, ensuring bins are arranged in pairs – general and food waste – at each food production station will make it easy for staff to automatically segregate food. Make it even simpler by colour coding bins and adding clear, concise labels, so that even when staff move between sections – even outlets – the recycling process is identical. By changing the mindset, a few very simple steps can help companies to design out waste.

4. Celebrate success to embed food waste reduction into the culture

Celebrating success is the key to maintaining employee commitment and embedding progressive food waste reduction into the business culture. The trick is to carefully define ‘success’. There are anecdotal reports that a strict, narrow focus on reducing the weight of food waste bins can lead to kitchen mistakes being hidden in black bags, leading to heavier general waste bins. A culture that acknowledges that accidents happen and lessons can be learnt from transparency is more positive in the long-run. The recent £4500 ‘wine incident’ at Hawksmoor made headlines for the right reasons.

There are also areas of cultural change that can radically reduce both the procurement and production of food waste. There is a strong argument for reducing choice and ditching less popular items as well as reconsidering portion size. Of course, this is a tough move, especially for those catering to a population that expects both choice and large portions. But the tide of public opinion is turning; from Blue Planet onwards, individuals are increasingly aware of the need for a more sustainable approach.  Understanding what food is being wasted and why helps identify menu areas to tackle. For example, garnishes of salad leaves or lemon wedges can be made optional, reducing waste and involving customers in the solution by offering them the choice. The return of ‘doggy bags’ is another potential solution. Better food management provides companies with the chance to embrace this shift in customer expectation and publicise their sustainability commitment and performance.

Recognising the position of hospitality businesses in the middle of the supply chain is useful to broaden the focus to include engaging suppliers and customers. A forward thinking waste management partner will provide recommendations and support to introduce stakeholder initiatives.


The hospitality sector has a significant challenge when it comes to food waste – and that means it is essential to set very bold targets. Ignorance is no longer acceptable. Create a benchmark, determine the scale of the problem and continually measure and track waste production. Ensure staff are engaged. Education is essential but what about incentives? It is important to celebrate success, for example, with league tables highlighting top performers.

Nominating a member of staff as sustainability champion is also a good step. Alongside a focus on food waste, this individual can help to reduce energy consumption by ensuring lights are switched off and minimising single use activity. With so many millennials and Gen Zs highly eco driven, embracing this wider sustainability focus can also help to build stronger staff engagement. 

Finally, don’t treat food waste as a one off campaign. Continual improvement is both essential and achievable. Review food waste metrics routinely and set new targets each year.  This is a long term commitment, and if the UK Government is to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal to halve global food waste at consumer and retail levels by 2030, legislation is inevitable. Those companies that start to segregate, measure and reduce food waste now will not only be ahead of the game but also gain valuable financial payback, as well as employee and customer support.

Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay

Sustainability: The advantages of using smart technologies in commercial buildings

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By Frankie Byron, Sustainability Surveyor at Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH)

As the UK Government pledges to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the urge for sustainable buildings is stronger than ever.

According to the UK Green Building Council, an estimated 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint is attributed to the built environment, half of which comes from energy used in building. Heating alone created 10% of the country’s carbon footprint. 

Yet sustainability is still out of reach for many property owners and managers. Old buildings, small budgets, tenants’ varying needs – there are many factors that make it hard for a property manager to truly measure the sustainability of a building and to act upon any findings.

Considering this, Frankie Bryon, Sustainability Surveyor at LSH discusses why smart technology can help buildings improve on sustainability as well introduce other benefits that include promoting health and wellbeing and enable agile working…

Smart is sustainable
Firms’ sustainability strategies have been a major driver of the rollout of smart technology. By providing more efficient controls over energy usage, it can deliver significant reductions in energy consumption.

It is no coincidence that some of the smartest office buildings in the world are also rated by BREEAM as among the greenest. Smart systems allow lighting, heating, air conditioning and ventilation to be monitored and adjusted according to a building’s usage and occupation. Energy wastage can be minimised by turning off heating and lighting when an office is unoccupied. Intelligent building facades may also be used to control the heat and light entering the building in response to changing weather conditions.

The next generation of energy efficient smart buildings have their own sources of power generation and some are even able to generate more energy than they consume, with surplus energy going back to the grid.

Workplace wellbeing
Smart technology is increasingly recognised as having an important role to play in promoting health and wellbeing. It can help to create environments that support alert, energised workforce. 

Sensors can monitor air and water quality, light, temperature and noise levels. Issues known to affect workers’ concentration levels such as poor air quality or a lack of natural light can thus be detected and fixed.

More advanced smart office technology can also make use of data from wearable biometric devices monitoring the health and comfort of workers. In fact, research by Instant Offices shows 45% of the UK workforce would feel comfortable with sharing information via wearable devices for the purpose of protecting their health and wellbeing. 

Ambient conditions can be adjusted when workers show signs of discomfort, or an individual’s immediate working environment can be changed according to their personal preferences.

Work smarter
Sensors, smartphones or wearable devices may collect data monitoring environmental factors such as temperature, light, air quality and noise, as well as data on employees’ usage of the building.

The data collected can deliver building managers with actionable insights on how to improve a building’s performance, or it may feed through to automated systems controlling the office environment. With smart technology continually evolving, it is being used to support an increasingly wide range of applications, providing multiple benefits to building owners, investors, occupiers and employees.

Enabling agile working
Smart technology is providing occupiers with a better understanding of who uses the office at any given time, how they work and with whom they collaborate. These insights can enable increasingly agile, flexible working.

Some of the newest generation of smart buildings have fewer desks than workers. Instead, employees may reserve a workspace using an app, with a choice of spaces depending on whether they would prefer a collaborative workspace, private meeting area or a quiet space.

Smart systems may thus facilitate a move away from the convention of employees ‘owning’ a desk, which then goes unused for periods when they are out of the office. Flexible workspaces can be used more efficiently and may be continually adapted to changing employee demand and new work styles.

Improving workplace experiences
As well as enabling desk and room bookings, workplace apps can also be used to order food and drink, book gym sessions or reserve parking spaces. They may allow employees to control ambient settings, as well as providing new ways of connecting and collaborating with colleagues.

Workplace apps are thus developing as important interfaces between employees and office buildings, giving individuals greater control over their office experience. This will help to align the modern office with the expectations of a younger workforce for whom smart technology already plays an integral part of their lifestyles outside of work.

The benefits of being smart
Overall the advantages that smart offices offer are in terms of the following:

  • Sustainability
  • Employee wellbeing
  • Agile working 
  • Workplace experience

Smart offices also aid talent attraction and retention, by creating spaces in which people want to work, while appealing to workers’ environmental values. Modern, sustainable offices can help to reinforce a company’s brand values and define a progressive, forward-thinking corporate culture.

Image by Quinn Kampschroer from Pixabay 

GUEST BLOG: Ensuring back-up generators come online in the event of a power cut

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Britain’s recent power cut saw almost a million people across large areas of England and Wales affected in what was the country’s most severe blackout in over a decade. And with Ipswich Hospital investigating why a back-up generator failed to kick-in during the power outage, many critical infrastructure providers such as hospitals will now want to check that their equipment is operating as expected, should an incident like this occur in the future.

In light of this, Jason Harryman, Sales and Business Development Manager – Electric Power-Diesel at Finning UK & Ireland, advises on three key considerations to help ensure back-up generators are working correctly, and any issues are addressed quickly should equipment fail to immediately come online when required…

  1. Testing times

Whether for public safety, national security or business continuity reasons, mission critical facilities must remain operational at all times. Yet, because back-up generators are designed to operate from standby for much of their life, it is important to ensure they are regularly tested.

As a result, a routine testing procedure of back-up generators should be in place. Indeed, for mission critical facilities, it is recommended that testing should be undertaken on a weekly basis. Mechanical components within the back-up generator containing moving parts must be used frequently in order to make sure they do not become inoperative and faulty.

One element that it is critical to test is battery voltage. A measurement of the battery voltage during start-up will reveal whether any problems are potentially on the way. For example, if battery voltage is too low, then a back-up generator may not be able to start quickly enough in the case of a power outage, which could lead to serious and costly repercussions.

2. Inspecting any issues

Do not overlook how important it is to recognise and act on any unexpected issues that may be identified by the back-up generator’s controller. Check regularly that no reporting faults have been identified; if they have then deal with these as a priority.

It is critical that any potential issues that the system’s controller might identify around the standby temperature, for example, are investigated. A hot engine for standby is needed, as it will then deliver load better than from a cold start should sites be faced with a power outage.

Generators designed to operate from standby will only come online in the event of an emergency. Therefore, they are not in regular use and may not be subjected to the same stringent inspection regimes as other capital plant. When not in use, for instance, a back-up generator’s fuel can become a common issue if preventative measures are not taken, as fuel can become contaminated by water condensation, dirt ingress or rust over time. This can lead to filter blockages, or premature wear of fuel injectors or pumps.

As a result, it is crucial that the appropriate equipment inspections are taking place.

3. Ensure an SLA is fit for purpose

A service-level agreement (SLA) means critical infrastructure providers can be confident that they can rely on repair and maintenance expertise from a trusted supplier, so back-up generators will remain operational no matter what the circumstances are. This provides sites with assured peace of mind, as well as fixed budgeting costs.

Nevertheless, it is critical that the SLA is fit for purpose, at an appropriate level to meet demand. Many believe that their SLA will automatically cover emergency call-outs, which is a common misconception.

At the time, many will have been tempted to opt for a more cost-effective SLA, which might not provide the site with the repair and maintenance support needed. This will often be due to the belief that they might have the in-house skills and capabilities to deal with any potential generator issues, and the decision has been made as part of a cost-saving exercise.

Therefore, it is always recommended that operators check the terms of their SLA and ensure it meets their site’s demands. Users should seek a trusted partner with a strong track record of delivering reliable back-up systems, which considers each site’s individual requirements.

Back-up generators require regular maintenance and testing to ensure they are operating properly, and this should be supported by a suitable SLA. By taking these steps, critical infrastructure providers can be safe in the knowledge that they have taken every precaution and have the right provisions in place should a power outage – such as the one recently experienced in large areas of England and Wales – occur.

CENTRICA REPORT: Why sustainability is good for business

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Sustainable businesses see energy as an opportunity, not a financial burden. They’re exploiting distributed energy technologies, such as onsite generation and storage, to cut costs and carbon emissions.

This also increases operational resilience and enhances reputation.  

Download Centrica’s research report to see the 4 steps you can take to accelerate your energy sustainability and improve your business performance.

CENTRICA REPORT: Steps to sustainable business growth

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What does it take to become a more sustainable, future-focused organisation? 

Today’s consumers, shareholders and governments are demanding that businesses take responsibility for their carbon emissions, and work toward a low carbon future.

Our new report explains what it means to be a sustainable business and the steps you can take to start your journey.

We share the most significant results from our research, the changing role of energy, and the actions businesses should take to prepare for a more commercially and environmentally sustainable future.

Energy managers can create cost and energy savings with the Energy Technology List

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By May Laghzaoui, ETL Project Coordinator, Energy Technology List

Energy managers and procurement professionals can save money and energy through investing in energy efficient products. However, sourcing energy efficient products can be often be time consuming and confusing with a bombardment of conflicting marketing messages. 

The solution lies with the Energy Technology List (ETL). Backed by government, it is a searchable database of energy efficient technologies in a variety of categories. The products featured on the list are in approximately the top 25 per cent for energy efficiency and have been independently verified, giving customers comfort in the knowledge they are purchasing high performing products.

Technology categories featured on the ETL include: automatic monitoring and targeting (aM&T) equipment; boiler equipment; combined heat and power (CHP); heat pumps; lighting; motors and drives; refrigeration equipment; and waste heat to electricity conversion equipment.

With rising energy costs and increasingly stringent standards and environmental measures, energy managers are under pressure to reduce costs and meet these targets. Investing in ETL-listed products can further aid these pressures, as it might entitle a business to accelerated tax relief through the Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA). The ECA can serve as a cash boost for businesses looking to invest in high-performing products. They can then avoid the false economy of cheaper products that consume greater levels of energy and incur long-term energy costs.

In order to qualify for the ECA, businesses must pay corporation tax and purchase products listed on the ETL at the time of purchase. The ETL can also be paired with other forms of accelerated tax relief, such as the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA). The AIA limit has been raised to £1 million for two years from January 2019, enabling businesses investing in new plant and machinery to be able to claim through their AIA instead.

The ETL also complements other government energy efficiency policies, such as the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) requiring large businesses to report on cost-effective energy saving recommendations, making the ETL a useful tool for those who want to implement recommendations.

Energy savings resulting from purchases of ETL-qualifying equipment have resulted in the sizeable abatement of carbon emissions in the UK – equivalent to approximately 88 million tonnes of CO2since 2001. In addition, it is estimated that the ECA scheme has been used by UK businesses to capture around £100 million a year in accelerated tax relief. This is a key time to factor the ETL and ECA into any procurement processes as the ECA scheme is coming to a close in April 2020.

With increasing awareness and concern around climate change issues, organisations have the opportunity to reap the reputational and economic benefits from reducing their environmental impact. The ETL, if integrated into the procurement process, can be a critical tool for businesses and public sector looking to achieve these savings.

Search for eligible products on the ETL here:

Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay

Should you choose oil or gas for your business?

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As the threat of climate change continues to gather pace, one of the burning questions of our time remains: ‘how can we create a greener, more sustainable future that still allows businesses to thrive?’ Here, Flogas, examine the debate currently gaining traction. 

Central to solving this challenge is energy usage, and the fuel we depend on in our daily lives and commercial operations. As such, businesses across the UK are now looking at ways to become more fuel-efficient – not only to help lower their carbon emissions, but also to bring down energy bills and save money in the long run.

Nowhere is this debate more prominent than in the 16% of the UK not serviced by the main gas grid, which relies on alternative fuels to meet its energy needs. For the majority of off-grid operations, this means a choice between oil, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) or LNG (liquefied natural gas) for high-volume commercial applications. But what exactly are the differences between these fuels – and what should off-grid users consider when making decisions about their energy supply?

Click here to read the full article.

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