Guest Blog: Michael Prager – Lessons from Lockdown: Embrace Sustainability

How to grasp the new normal by its horns and make it work for you.

Embrace Sustainability

There’s maybe half a dozen people on the planet left that don’t accept that climate change is: a) a real and present threat that needs to be addressed regardless of however it was caused; b) It’s probably man made or at least worsened by humankind and three of those are Heads of State (feel free to input names here).

We’re past the shouty stage of well-meaning but perhaps not totally practical people gluing themselves to random things and going on strike from organisations that didn’t necessarily know they were there until they announced that they weren’t and we’re into the, ‘well, how do we do something about this’ phase now, which is where folks like us get involved and make change happen.

The imperative for sustainable development isn’t just altruistic any longer. Sustainability is going to be brand requirement just like health & safety, provenance, equality & diversity have been before it and companies that don’t wear their sustainability credentials proudly on their sleeves are going to suffer unless they change tack and reflect their customers values.  It leads to two questions that should be asked in tandem.

How do I do what’s right for the planet and what’s right for the business in the same set of actions?

Image: Shutterstock

There’s no one answer as sustainability is an enterprise wide way  of thinking but to focus on one, energy demand.  How do I reduce demand (and therefore cost) without reducing quality – of staff and customer comfort, service quality, asset maintenance and all the rest of it.  We all tend to look at energy or utility demand management as just switching off the lights when the building is empty and there’s nothing wrong with that but it can be so much more.  How do I change ingrained behaviours in a way that will permanently reduce my baseload and how do I evaluate, verify and justify capital expenditure to reduce cost and carbon emissions to get to net zero?

There’s a clear hierarchy here:  Pick the low hanging fruit – turn off what should be turned off, set heating & cooling controls to constantly optimise against outside temperature.  Look at what constitutes baseload and how that can be reduced; e.g. don’t leave equipment on hibernate with all of the little red dots glowing through the night, don’t plant gardens that need more water than the natural environment can provide.  Plan capex on the usual return on investment criteria for all energy reducing projects plus an emissions reduction criterion . Measure everything and you’ll get a double dip.

Whether you’re focused on energy expense reduction or carbon emissions reduction, do one and you automatically do the other. It really is a no brainer. So why delay, start a new mindset where sustainability is like honest accounting.  Something you do unquestionably because it’s right. We can help you here, if you want.

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