Tag Archives: Environment

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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Promoting Carbon Reduction on the Radio

I am quite excited today as I have my first meeting with the creative team from Central FM, who we are using to broadcast radio ads throughout 2011-2012 to promote various team activities. One of the activities selected for the ads is the Low Carbon Alliance, so we have to create a 30 second promotion to entice businesses in Stirling to join us.

I clearly think there are many benefits to getting involved, otherwise I wouldn’t have set it up! However, it’s not easy to summarise the benefits in just 30 seconds and it’s even more tricky to do so in such a way that businesses pick up the phone and give us a call or visit our website.

The other conundrum is that we are currently trying to avoid “extrinsic” marketing techniques in all our activities. This means we don’t want to appeal to people’s selfish or materialistic side when encouraging them to act in the best interests of the environment. Studies show that extrinsic marketing (e.g. “cut food waste and save £400”) might work in the short-term but isn’t necessarily effective for establishing new social norms over a longer period. For that to happen people have to believe that what they are doing is both the right and proper thing to do.

That’s not to say we can’t feel good about the cost savings from cutting energy, fuel or waste, just that it shouldn’t be our only reason for doing it if we want it to become normal behaviour. After all, in three years time you might be in a better paid job and not care so much about your electricity bill. Will you start leaving lights on again? Unless you really believe in the benefits of cutting energy use, the answer is quite possibly yes.

I think there are “intrinsic” benefits to caring for the environment and most of these come from improvements in our relationships with other people within society. It has been shown that people would rather work for a business that cares about the environment. Other businesses would rather work with a business that care about the environment. Customers/clients would rather buy products and services from a business that care about the environment. Most business owners and managers would rather be a business that cares about the environment.

So what’s stopping businesses doing things to improve their environmental performance? Is it inertia? Cost barriers? Lack of knowledge? The truth is it is probably a mixture of these?

The purpose of our environmental network is to lower and remove such barriers to foster a shared belief in the need to do the right thing, and to empower businesses to make the right decision.

I’m still not entirely sure how to translate this to radio, but hopefully Central FM will! I’ll update once we decide what approach to take.

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Is Low Hanging Fruit Enough to Stop Us Going Hungry?

You might need a ladder...

When it comes to choosing energy reduction measures in our homes and businesses, we often start with things that take the least amount of effort. In “the trade” this is called the “low hanging fruit” as it’s the things we can pick off easily, without too much bother. An example of low hanging fruit is pressing the “off” button on the TV or PC Monitor rather than leaving it on standby. It’s easy enough to do, doesn’t cost anything and saves a bit of energy.

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Why UK Business Holds the Key To Carbon Reduction

The Carbon Trust (who work with closely with our Low Carbon Alliance), have produced a neat slide show to highlight how businesses are absolutely vital to emissions reduction in the UK.

Click the image below to see the slide show on the Carbon Trust website.

It’s only 5 slides, yet it demonstrates nicely the scale of the challenge and the need to ensure both businesses and the consumers that use those businesses’ products and services are aware of the issues and starting to act in a meaningful way to reduce emissions.

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UK drivers the best in Europe – it’s official!

An in-depth study conducted by Fiat into driving techniques across Europe, which is apparently the first of its kind anywhere in the world, proves two quite remarkable things:

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Do we Have the Stomach for Renewables?

I have written about David MacKay’s work before [update: David is now Chief Scientific Adviser to Department for Environment and Climate Change (DECC) – so there!], when I highlighted his experiment involving a power meter and mobile phone chargers. This showed how very small the power used by each one when the phone isn’t attached to it really is (less than 1 watt) and how public messaging campaigns which focus on this are essentially a waste of time.

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Reasons to be Cheerful… and Cautious

One thing I notice time and time again whilst visiting or communicating with businesses is just how much work they have already done to reduce energy use. Often it has been done without an environmental focus, and it has rarely been communicated effectively to staff but let’s give credit where credit is due, efforts are being made to cut energy.

Eco-bulbs are Everywhere!

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