Around the world environmental concerns are at an all-time high, and business owners want to ensure that they do what they can to reduce their environmental impact of their office or other business premises.
Businesses can lobby through professional bodies, industry groups etc. for greater action at a national level, but what else can be done to confront the climate crisis by businesses themselves?
Let me share some of the most promising solutions to help reduce your environmental impact of your small business’s offices:
When people think of environmental impact, they often think of energy use. There has been a big push towards finding renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar, and I would encourage switching to a renewable energy supplier.
Having a business policy of swapping out light bulbs for energy-efficient LED bulbs, for example is a useful. The cost of solar panels has fallen, and efficiency improved. If your business premises do not have solar panels yet you might want to look into your options.
And there is another exciting technology raising the question: what if every window in your commercial building could generate energy?
With solar glass, it will be possible to turn windows into solar panels. While still transparent, they trap the sun’s energy as it passes through, generating free, renewable energy for your business.
While the transparent nature of solar windows reduces the efficiency of solar windows, teams are working to improve the efficiency to 15%. This may not sound like a lot, but with billions of square meters of glass windows in the UK alone, even 15% could generate all the energy the nation needs!
As well as generating more renewable energy, there are also new innovative ways to reduce a business’s energy consumption in the first place. One area where we are particularly wasteful is in lighting ‒ leaving lights on accidentally or when we are out of the office.
Smart switches help combat unnecessary energy usage from lighting, switching them off when unneeded. They use a combination of automation tools, such as motion sensing and programmable times, to automatically turn lights off when they’re not being used.
Not only will this help save energy, but it will also cut down on your energy bills!
While we tend to think of electricity use when we think of environmentalism, heat loss is another huge contributing factor. Heat is still energy and heat loss both wastes energy and warms the environment.
Of course, using modern insulating materials and double-glazed windows are essential. However, there are also some new ways of recapturing heat energy, reducing environmental impact.
Many businesses have shower facilities for people who, for example, run or cycle to work. With smart meters, you’ll be very aware that electric showers take a large amount of energy to quickly heat the water
Fortunately, Zypho has been working on a clever device that recaptures the heat from your shower water. Zypho devices can be retro-fitted into existing showers both in the home and commercial buildings. They exchange heat between the water disappearing down the drain and the water heating up to the heating unit, reducing energy use by up to 67%. That means for every three showers, two are free!
The amount of fresh drinking water available is rapidly declining. As such, water efficiency should be considered just as important as energy and heat. If your business happens to have high water usage you’ll want to look at your manufacturing processes to see where this can be reduced.
To stick with the shower example, and to demonstrate what is possible, there are a number of companies developing solutions that reduce the amount of water used in a shower by up to 65%.
One is Nebia, creators of a new showerhead that uses up to 65% less water than a traditional shower. It does this by atomising the water for a more efficient shower without sacrificing on the quality of the shower. Another low-cost option is the Niagara low-flow showerhead that simply reduced the amount of water sprayed out by the shower while ensuring a consistent pressure.
If every small business makes use of the kinds of technologies discussed here it will collectively make a big impact. The reduction in environmental impact will be good for the planet. It will also get a positive response from customers who want to see businesses making decisions that show they share the desire to combat climate change.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
André Fonseca is the CEO of Zypho, a company developing internationally-patented shower-drain heat recovery solutions for domestic and commercial showers.