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How Purpose-Built Containers Can Help Businesses Meet Their Environmental Goals

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In the age of sustainability, businesses are growing the efforts to meet new environmental goals. Whether preserving the environment or reducing waste, your choice of workspace is vital.

Of course, sustainability has more benefits for businesses than simply protecting the environment. For consumers, sustainable businesses that are ethically aware are rewarded with their custom. In fact, one consumer index found that 47 per cent of people worldwide have changed to a different product or service because a company violated their personal values.

Considering environmental practices as a strong consumer value, you can expand your operations while remaining sustainably aware. Purpose-built containers have long been used as extensions for businesses. However, the benefits of this space can also help meet your environmental goals. Here, we look at why purpose-built containers are the solution for your sustainable business. 

Less is more

Purpose-built containers can add a lot to a business. But it is actually what they take away which makes them so environmentally friendly. According to WRAP, the UK construction sector uses 400 million tonnes of materials and generates 100 million tonnes of waste every year. This waste contributes to over a third of the UK’s total waste. The evidence suggests that construction is currently operating at unsustainable levels.

Containers can reduce the amount of waste generated by minimising the types of materials used in their simple yet effective design. The steel walls are fabricated to minimise waste, each being designed and cut to size. Any excess materials can contribute to the construction of another container. A typical 20 ft container may only weigh about 2,230 kilograms, meaning that the weight of materials is lower than purpose-built brick and mortar spaces.

The benefits of this are overwhelming for businesses. Money can be saved on both material cost and constructing heavier-bearing foundations. To further meet your environmental goals, this saved money can be diverted into other sustainable investment funds.

Purpose-built containers can also save space. Condensing your working environment into a container helps protect the natural environment too. This means that natural habitats are not disturbed by the construction of larger industrial spaces.

Energy conservation

Purpose-built containers can benefit your business through energy conservation. Containers can be easily insulated, meaning that temperature is regulated during both hot and cold seasons. Fuel needs are also minimised, as the confined space of the container means that not as much energy is needed to climate control work area.

Containers can also help with your investments in renewable energy. The simple design of the container means that solar panels can be mounted on the roof of your repurposed space. The energy from which can be used to power electrical essentials within your new space. Using renewable energy is the most proactive way for a business to meet its environmental goals. It is also a visible sign for customers that your business is dedicated to sustainable practices.

Longevity and reusability

One concern that businesses may have with purpose-built containers is their longevity. However, this issue is ill-founded. In fact, containers used for retail or industrial space can last around 30 years. Hard-wearing materials such as steel are coated with zinc paint coat, slowing the process of rusting. Erosion is also less likely than one would expect with brick-and-mortar spaces. 

The solid structure of these containers mean that your business can rest assured that its space is protected from the elements. Reducing repairs can help to combat issues with sustainability and will contribute towards your environmental goals.

Equally, the long-lasting and minimal material needs of containers means that they can be reused and repurposed. Of course, the original purpose of these containers was for hauling and storage. Today, they are a popular alternative for many businesses looking for a workspace. When container space is no longer needed, the space it occupied can be easily reclaimed without contributing to landfill waste or paying for expensive deconstruction. The material or container in its entirety can then be rebuilt or reused by another business or for other purposes.

When reviewing your business’ environmental goals, consider how your workspace can help to achieve this. Purpose-built containers can be used to achieve energy efficiency and reduce waste. Plus, the simple design benefits the installation of insulation and renewable energy sources. These spaces are a viable tool for growing businesses to ensure they maintain sustainable practices.

Self-sustaining cities: The UK’s best city to survive a zombie apocalypse

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Wind farms, electric vehicle chargers and recycling centres are just a few ways the UK has learned to be more sustainable and benefit society at the same time. But which UK city would be most successful if left to their own devices? 

Based on the environmental factors and number of self-sustaining features in the most populated UK cities, such as air quality and farming areas, SaveOnEnergy.com/uk created an index-based point system to uncover which city is most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse.

Living in Cambridge is your best bet to surviving a zombie apocalypse, amassing 348 points.

Cambridge is home to the most onshore wind farms (24) and recycling centres in the UK (5.68 per 100,000 of the population) – meaning that those looking to self-sustain are more likely to be successful in producing their own energy and reusing waste!

Following in second place is Swansea, with the city collecting 341 points. Surviving an apocalypse in Swansea would be made easier as they have the largest number of open park space (45.8 parks per 100,000 of the population) along with the most farmers (1.86% of the population), resulting in lots of outdoor space and professional farming knowledge. 

Belfast is the third best place in the UK to survive a zombie apocalypse (329 points). The city has the fourth highest percentage of farming areas in the UK (75% of land) and a significant number of wind farms(19). 

Fourth and fifth place go to Bristol and Armagh city, receiving 275 and 262 points respectively. Bristol has the best air quality in the UK and Armagh places highly due to the city’s large farming areas.

To complete the top 10 cities most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse, along with their best features, the results are as follows…

=6. Plymouth (254 points) – yearly solar energy production and farming areas

=6. Newry (254 points) – recycling centres and farming areas

7. Edinburgh (249 points) – parks and farming areas

8.  Dundee (230 points) – farmers in the city and farming areas

9. Gloucester (226 points) – parks and farming areas

10. Manchester (207 points) – parks and farming areas

Collecting just 82 points, SaveOnEnergy.com/uk found that Oxford is the worst city to live in if there was a zombie apocalypse. Due to the lack of wind farms (0), farmers (0.53% of population) and moderate air quality, they rank at the bottom of the table.

The second worst city is Preston. With 104 points, the city has just over 2 parks per 100,000 people and only 32 electric vehicle charging devices per 100,000 people.

Following in third is Derby, amassing 108 points in total – the city’s moderate air quality and low volume of recycling centres are partially responsible. 

In fourth place are Southampton and Nottingham, both joint with 110 points, and following in fifth is Glasgow with 111 points

To complete the top 10, alongside their worst rated self-sustaining features, the results are as follows…

6. Leeds (134 points) – wind farms and electric vehicle charging devices

7. Sunderland (136 points) – recycling centres and farmers

8. Leicester (140 points) – electric vehicle charging devices and recycling centres

9. Reading (141 points) – parks and wind farms

10. Liverpool (142 points) – recycling centres and farmers

You ca read about the full methodology and more information about each city’s factors here: https://www.saveonenergy.com/uk/best-cities-to-survive-a-zombie-apocalypse/

How to turn sustainable energy targets into action: a leadership guide

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By Centrica Business Solutions

Sustainability and profit are two sides of the same coin, which is why CEOs must build back greener from the global pandemic. But how can senior executives turn their decarbonisation ambitions into action to deliver on both their environmental and economic goals? 

Long-term carbon reduction plans will quickly falter without the backing of senior leaders. These individuals are in a unique position to drive sustainability by setting a clear direction, nurturing team collaboration and managing cultural change.

There’s a groundswell of commitment to decarbonisation from businesses and investors alike, with many of the world’s best known brands setting net-zero targets. However, delivering on these long-term targets is complex and challenging. 

Centrica Business Solutions is helping organisations to overcome these challenges. We have published a new guide to show business leaders  ‘How to Turn Ambitious Sustainability Targets into Effective Action.’

To accelerate the delivery of ambitious sustainability goals, CEOs and their executive teams  need a clear, dynamic action plan that de-risks commitments, shows tangible progress and reassures stakeholders.

The sustainability leaders’ guide explains how business leaders can create a carbon reduction plan that aligns fully with business strategy to deliver results, while demonstrating progress along the way.

This involves developing a sustainable energy pathway – broken down into  manageable, incremental steps.  Using this his methodology,  organisations can  translate both short and longer-term goals into feasible, detailed action plans that balance both economic and environmental priorities.

Download our guide to how senior executives can deliver on sustainable energy ambitions

How can businesses be more sustainable post Covid-19?

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When faced with great change, we often tend to focus on the negative implications, and in doing so, lose sight of the positive opportunities for our lives and our businesses. These not only help us to protect our businesses and our employees, but allow you to make a positive and lasting improvement to the environment.

Amongst the tragedy and widespread disruption caused by Covid-19, there’s been one glimmer of hope – namely the future of our planet. Carbon emissions have dropped dramatically across the globe, with some reports showing that CO2 levels are 36% lower since lockdown started. But now, as restrictions start to lift, experts have warned that this won’t last unless we start investing in clean energy and continue to galvanise behavioural change across every sector.

But where do we go from here? And what role could SME owners play in ensuring that any environmental gains made during the last few months haven’t been in vain?

Here, Opus Energy, the renewable energy provider to small and medium sized businesses, shares some ideas on how we can take the lessons we’ve learnt from the pandemic and implement them over the long term to reduce our carbon footprint.

Limit the travel of your employees where possible

We have all seen the inspirational images from across the globe of reduced CO2 levels and even wildlife remerging in places we thought they were lost, and it’s disheartening to think that it could all be lost as soon as we begin to mobilise again. As a business owner, it may feel as though this is out of your hands, but as small and medium sized enterprises are the employers of 60% of the UK’s population, supporting your employees to make greener transport choices will make a real impact on the country’s pollution levels.

Even better, if your employees can continue to work from home, consider offering days where your team can do so. Since March, we have seen that businesses can continue to thrive with teams virtually working, and that has been reflected in the reduction in traffic.

There’s no getting away from the fact that transportation constitutes a huge percentage of the UK’s total carbon emissions, with research showing that work-related travel accounts for over a third (37%) of total emissions from passenger transport – 24% from commuting and 13% from travel in the course of business. So, if letting your employees work from home is a viable option, this is definitely something to consider.

Be an advocate for cleaner transport 

For some businesses, it’s not possible for employees to work from home, and as they begin to filter back into the workplace, it’s important to continue the gains we’ve made on reducing the environmental impact.

Public transport or carpooling are usually the go-to option for greener travel, but as we continue to combat Covid-19, social distancing measures will likely impact these forms of travel. With this in mind, options such as cycle to work schemes can work for employees that have a shorter commute, and are a great employee benefit to consider – and carbon neutral. The cycle to work scheme also has tax benefits for your business, as employers can save 13.8% on National Insurance Contributions.

If you have a fleet of vehicles though, consider making the switch to electric. While this might not be available to you immediately due to budget restraints, in the near future, it’s a positive option to explore, particularly as the sale of petrol, diesel and hybrid cars will be banned from 2035 under new Government regulation.

If you offer company cars, incentivise the electric options, for example, installing charging points. We know that range and charging anxiety are still key factors holding drivers back from selecting an electric vehicle, so having the infrastructure in place to allow your employees to charge their vehicles during the day will go a long way to settling that feeling. Electric vehicles solve two problems at once: reducing exhaust-related emissions and reducing the use of fossil-derived fuels – meaning we can keep air pollution down to a safe level.

We saw during the lockdown period the impact that the reduction of traffic had on air pollution across our towns and cities. This showed us that that not only is it possible to reverse the damage, but that we need work together to keep these new-found levels down, and advocating the use of cleaner, more green transport is a huge step in achieving and maintaining this.

Flexibility is key 

Covid-19 has shown us that flexible working means more than just letting your employees work from home: it’s about fostering working relationships built on mutual trust and autonomy, and not being afraid of making bold changes to your business. It’s important for business owners to acknowledge this and to continue to allow their employees flexible working where possible. Not only will this be appreciated by your current employees, but would-be applicants will now, more than ever, be looking for flexibility from employers. It could also help you reduce your energy consumption.  

When the time comes to reintroduce your employees back into your working environment, you should talk to your staff about their needs as many people’s circumstances will have changed. You should also look at how you will allow for social distancing measures, as the safety of your team needs to be at the forefront of all your decisions.

Staggering shifts may be a viable option here. Having half the team work from your premises one week and the other team the next, or even adjusting your opening hours, will go a long way in supporting your team as they return to work. As well as this, adequate space between employees is vital. You’ll need to be smart about your layout, as relocating people to opposite ends of the property or across several floors will only increase your overall electricity consumption.

If you haven’t done so already, you might want to look into installing motion-sensor technology to your office appliances. This can be an effective way to cut your electricity consumption, especially if there are going to be times where there isn’t anyone in the premises or large parts of the building.

Utilising smart meters will help you monitor your electricity consumption during this time. The near real-time data they provide on business energy usage means that you can spot key trends and identify areas for improvement, as well as address any issues swiftly and appropriately. Ultimately, evaluating your habits and identifying opportunities for intelligent change can make a huge difference to your bottom line.

The power of collective action

Although the sharp reduction in emissions we have seen during the lockdown may be temporary, it’s shown us what is possible and what can be achieved through collective action. Together, we should try and continue to reduce our emissions and not slip into old harmful habits.

IT sustainability ‘being ignored by business’

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Only 28% of managerial knowledge workers in large UK businesses consider information technology (IT) sustainability to be a top priority for their business beyond mandatory reporting and regulatory requirements.

That’s according to research from Citrix, which also highlights somewhat encouragingly that the majority of large UK businesses (60%) have a specific corporate social responsibility (CSR) or sustainability strategy in place for IT, which includes strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Despite this, only 37% of companies currently measure greenhouse gas emissions created by employee computing. The majority of respondents working in the telecoms sector (70%) confirmed that this is currently measured by their organisation. Yet only 15% of those in utilities, 19% of those in healthcare, 40% of those in local government, and 43% of those in technology could say the same.

The data also suggests there is division amongst large UK businesses in regards to the measurement of IT end user device electricity consumption, with 55% currently measuring the consumption of devices such as desktops, laptops, notebooks and tablets. A further 59% currently measure IT data centre electricity consumption.

Almost a third (31%) of managerial knowledge workers – those in management roles up to CxO level in companies of 250+ employees – believe that IT departments have more of an impact than any other department when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, improving sustainability and driving widespread and crucial change across the whole business. This is reflected in the fact that the majority of Chief Technology Officers (93%) and Chief Information Officers (83%) are responsible for reporting on IT electricity consumption across the business.

Interestingly, a large proportion of Chief Financial Officers (88%) are now responsible for reporting to the board on IT use related to greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, 78% of CFOs are subject to performance measurements such as goals or KPIs related to IT sustainability, which suggests that organisations across the UK understand the potential financial implications of not shifting towards more sustainable IT practices. 

However, 48% of respondents cited budget constraints as the biggest barrier holding back their organisation from building a more sustainable IT model. A lack of time (33%) and board support (21%), as well as employee pushback to changes made to IT (20%), were also cited as significant barriers.

Michelle Senecal de Fonseca, Area Vice President, Northern Europe at Citrix, said: “Anthropogenic interference has already caused a 1° C rise in global temperature. With no time to lose, every business in every industry must think about how they can reduce carbon emissions, improve sustainability and embrace greener practices by default.

“With digital technologies having an unprecedented impact on the workplace, organisations should review their existing IT infrastructure and evaluate its efficiency. They will soon realise they can cut their impact on the environment by transitioning workloads from less efficient on-premises data centres and migrating to hyperscale hosted cloud services.

“However, embracing a more flexible working culture — underpinned by the cloud — will likely have the most far-reaching consequences. The ability to work anywhere and from any device means lower commuting emissions and the freedom to work from devices that consume up to 90% less energy than a standard PC, such as a Google Chromebook or Apple laptop. By embracing this kind of approach UK businesses can reduce their carbon footprint, while benefiting from happier staff and improved productivity.”

Epson Europe assesses its eco-credentials

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Epson Europe has unveiled the second edition of its dedicated European Sustainability Report, ‘The Green Choice’.

The report, a voluntary effort of the company, tracks the progress of its sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives to date, in alignment with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).

It also outlines Epson’s goals and ambitions for the future. The practical steps the company took in 2018 include schemes to reduce emissions, waste, energy and water use from the company’s offices as well as its supply chain.

Building on previous projects, such as Epson Europe’s robotics and textile printing programmes with universities, local school collaborations and international sponsorships, the firm has announced a new educational scheme to support over 10,000 students of all ages.

Entitled the ‘New Horizons’ initiative, the scheme is being developed across the 2019 financial year (up until April 2020) to elevate the understanding of sustainability, drawing from the company’s expertise in sustainable technology, paper recycling, waste reduction and more.

“Initiatives like ‘New Horizons’ are just one piece of a global puzzle for Epson, recognising and acting on what we acknowledge as our responsibility as a global technology company,” said Kazuyoshi Yamamoto, President of Epson Europe. “We must look beyond profit generation to long-term solutions, providing our customers and communities with products and services that not only meet their needs, but exceed them.”

Moving forward, Epson has confirmed partnerships with:

  • The Royal Academy of Arts, UK: Continuation of a long-term partnership allowing around artistic students from varying backgrounds to have access to the latest technology to support their education.
  • Sustainability classes, Germany: In-school workshops to teach students about the importance of sustainability and the concept of energy efficiency.
  • EDU2030, Spain: Supporting a pilot project in Barcelona to introduce sustainable technology solutions and biodiversity conservation areas to a school of more than 400 students between the ages of three and 11. 

“Epson has always sought to enhance efficiency in everything it does as a company – including improving its impact on society and the environment, from conception to mission completion,” said Henning Ohlsson, CSR Director Epson Europe. “Embedding the United Nations’ SDGs into this approach has only strengthened our resolve to demonstrate and expand the value that we bring as a company.”

Highlights from 2018 CSR activities include:

  • All Epson European offices have taken steps to ensure that all single use plastics will be removed from offices by 2020
  • Increased renewable energy use to 55%, on target for the new goal of 100% by 2020.
  • Reduced CO2 emissions by employee by over 6%, and reduced scope 1 & 2 GHG emissions by almost 18% in warehouses, despite expanding in both employee base and warehouse footprint in Europe.

You can download Epson Europe’s full 2018 Green Choice sustainability report here.

Image by Dominique Knobben from Pixabay

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.

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 

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.

https://www.centricabusinesssolutions.com/distributed-energy-future-trends-LP