Decarbonisation is a journey and, like all journeys, starts with an initial step followed by many more. Siemens has reduced its carbon footprint from manufacturing operations by more than 50 per cent over the past 6 years on its journey to become carbon zero by 2030.
Significantly, the reduction has been achieved with the use of existing technology and by modifying existing processes to significantly lower our CO2 emissions, in addition to our costs.
Embarking on your journey to decarbonisation
Green energy 1
Switch to a green energy supplier, one that generates electricity 100% from renewable sources. This takes an immediate large chunk out of your CO2 The UK has made great strides with decarbonising its electricity grid. Consider replacing gas heating with an air-source or ground-source heat pump. As gas prices rise, electrifying your energy is a sensible move. The amount of renewable capacity connected to the grid has increased from 8GW in 2009 to 48GW at the end of June 2021, an increase of 500%. Switching your tariff to a green supplier is quick, easy and makes a big difference to your individual, household or industrial emissions.
These are one of the quickest and cheapest ways of reducing your carbon footprint and also, saving some money. Whether it’s on the Christmas tree, in the office or on the factory floor, replacing neon, halogen and incandescent bulbs will save energy, save bulbs going to landfill, reduce your energy bill and usually pay-back investment in two years or less.
Green energy 2
Could you be a producer of some or all of your energy needs? Generating your own renewable carbon-free power using solar panels, wind turbines, water turbines all make massive differences to your need for grid-sourced power. You may be able to finance through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), an arrangement in which a third-party developer installs, owns, and operates an energy system on a customer’s property. The customer then purchases the system’s electric output for a predetermined period, so there’s no capital outlay. If you don’t have the space, talk to any neighbours that have and join forces.
Knowing how you use energy and what you’re using it for means you can more accurately reduce energy demand and costs. Audit your energy usage so that you can identify the easy routes to reducing demand in the system. This may be as simple as turning things on and off while checking your smart meter or it may require a more sophisticated Energy Management System. Once you know where the carbon is produced you might be surprised at how simple it can be to cut energy usage and costs. The supply chain accounts for the largest share of CO2 in products but a system like SiGreen can help identify exactly where to improve and quantify the positive impact on your products’ sustainability.
A study by The Carbon Trust a few years ago found that UK workplaces could save more than £300 million per year if they educated and engaged employees on the benefits of energy efficiency. Train and incentivise staff at all levels to turn heating down rather than open a window, to close doors and prevent drafts, turn off lights and heating when they leave rooms, and turn off equipment rather than leaving it on standby overnight or at weekends.
Electrify your business fleet and provide charging for staff electric vehicles too. The costs are starting to fall and battery technology is rapidly improving so it’s a sure fire way to cut energy use, CO2 emissions and costs.
If your building is old enough not to have double glazing, look at installing double glazing or, as a lower cost option, maybe secondary glazing using glass or Perspex. Also consider internal or external cladding or lining to walls and ceilings to reduce heat loss and don’t forget lagging pipes to prevent loss of heat. Pay-back times are now increasingly quick depending on which measures you take.
If you package things in your business, make sure the materials used are easy to recycle and that you pack in the most energy efficient way. Look at your supply side to cut waste to landfill from packaging. Siemens helped TrakRap remove the heat and waste from its packaging line with an innovative new ‘cold wrapping’ technology.
If you have grounds around your buildings, or even roof space, consider what you can do for biodiversity on your site. Carbon absorption helps the planet just as much as carbon cutting.
Ensure you are not just passing your carbon emissions down your supply chain and support your suppliers in moving to greener more sustainable operations.
Implementing some of the above measures will increase your costs as demand increases faster than supply because of companies adopting greener operations under growing pressure from government and shareholders.
Others, however, may result in reduced costs as providers achieve economies of scale.
Neither scenario, however, should be an excuse for postponing your programme of carbon reduction, as climate change requires us to make progress now – and the evidence suggests early adopters are the winners in the short, as well as the long term.