Tag Archives: Carbon Footprint

Is your business ready for change?

“A business is a living organism; it has to continue to shed its skin.

Methods have to change.

Focus has to change.

Values have to change.

The sum total of those changes is transformation.”

So said Andy Grove, ex-President and CEO of Intel. Grove transformed Intel from a manufacturer of memory chips into one of the world’s dominant producers of microprocessors. During his time as CEO, Grove oversaw a 4,500% increase in Intel’s market capitalization from $4 billion to $197 billion, making it, at the time, the world’s most valuable company. (Source: Wikipedia).

Mr Grove undoubtedly knows a thing or two about running a successful business but his ideas are also common sense. One of his key philosophies is that “inertia is the enemy of good business management”. In other words we too often settle into established patterns of behaviour, relying on past successes and what we think led to those successes, without objectively looking at ourselves and our business in the changing context of the world around us (our competitors, our customers, the environment etc.)

In terms of our environmental impact, we all recognise the need to minimise the negative impacts (even it’s only a very quiet voice somewhere deep inside) but that doesn’t mean we are ready and equipped to make the changes required. You will no doubt hear about carbon reduction in the media, from Government, from business advisors, from your staff and customers. You will see your energy and transport costs creeping up but you will also know that you can choose to do nothing for a few more years (even if it will cost you a little bit more each year). But, at some stage, we will all have to change the way we do things. We won’t all be able to travel 35-40 miles to work by car. We won’t be able to fly to meetings all over the world. We won’t be in a position to heat and power our businesses using fossil fuels.

We will have to transform our methods, our focus and our values to transform our businesses into “organisms” equipped to thrive in a low carbon future.

If you disagree with this, then perhaps the Low Carbon Alliance isn’t for you. But if you do agree, and share a desire for change without necessarily knowing all the answers about how to achieve it, then we want to help you with the transition. If you can commit to first of all calculate and then reduce your carbon footprint by 10% each year for the next 5 years then you can be confident you are aligned with internationally recognised timescales for weaning ourselves off oil, gas and coal in order to keep CO2 in the atmosphere below 400 parts per million and avoiding the kind of climate change that will impact on millions of people.

Your business will benefit by becoming more resilient to the changes but, more importantly, local and wider society will benefit from your business decisions. After all, businesses are an essential part of a properly functioning society. At the same time, businesses have to take responsibility for the fact that, in the UK, they produce over 60% of direct emissions, many of which are avoidable.

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Waste of Time No. 1: Which is lower carbon: paper towels or hand dryers?

Hand dryers (Airblades or Xlerator in particular).

Now here’s why it doesn’t matter:

The carbon emissions of drying hands is between 3 and 20 grammes of CO2e (all greenhouse gases converted into a carbon dioxide equivalent). Assuming you wash your hands on average twice a day whilst at work (and that you work for approx 245 days a year) the annual handwashing carbon emissions of each employee will be between 1.5kg and 10kg each year.

Now consider that the average carbon footprint of an employee whilst at work is 5 tonnes (worked out as the business’s carbon footprint divided by the number of staff working there). That’s 5,000 kg. So handwashing represents roughly 0.1% of an employee’s footprint.

For an average business each Airblade will cost around £30 a year to run (each unit uses around 349 kWh per year, or 1 kwh per day according to this information).

So really, the question shouldn’t be which is lower carbon out of paper towels and hand dryers. The question should be what is more important than either of those things in terms of business carbon emissions and costs. And the answer is almost everything.

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Quick and Easy Ways to Lower Your Carbon Footprint Tonight

It’s Friday. Thoughts are naturally turning towards the weekend. What does that mean for most people? It means blow out. Forget the diet and the “drink less” resolutions. Your body craves, no, demands fuity cocktails and salty bar snacks. Then, once the drinks are flowing, you might turn the heating up, put on a hawaiian shirt and dance the Macarena with your labrador under the coloured glow of your living room disco lights. Much later, you might put some oven chips on and doze in front of your electric fire with the TV blaring, whilst empty rooms around your house are lit up like Disneyland.

It might be fun, but it’s gonna cost ya. The next day will feel like a slow crawl through a piranha tank and your next energy bill will be that much higher. Also, the world will be a tiny fraction of a fraction of a degree warmer. Because of you.

So, presuming you want to avoid losing money; having facebook photos of you and a dog in a compromising position and being responsible for the Maldives disappearing, why not take these simple steps:

Drink locally produced beer/cider/wine.

Snack on homemade flapjacks.

Switch your lights and TV off.

Enjoy your weekend.

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