17 March 2021|Crisis Management, Eco & Ethics, Latest Posts
By André Fonseca. Environmental concerns are at an all-time high and entrepreneurs will want to ensure that their businesses do what they can to reduce their environmental impact.
Entrepreneurs can lobby through industry groups etc. for greater action at a national level, but what else can be done by a startup or growth business as they set up or expand their offices or other commercial premises?
To paraphrase Anne Marie Bonneau, “We don’t need a handful of people [reducing their environmental impact] perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
Here are some of the most promising solutions to help reduce your environmental impact of your business premises:
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 thing to do. The cost of solar panels has fallen, and efficiency improved. If your business does not have them 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 we need as a nation!
As well as generating more renewable energy, there are also new innovative ways to reduce our 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 in any business premise. However, there are also some new ways of recapturing heat energy, reducing environmental impact.
Many businesses have shower facilities for people who, for example, cycle or run 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 startup 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 there is laundry to do…
For startups who want to include an eco-friendly ethos in their culture one fun way to do this is to do any business laundry in the office. How? You could use the Laundry Pod. This has been developed to drastically cut the energy and water used to clean laundry. Functioning much like a standard washing machine, complete with wastewater disposal, the Laundry Pod is a manual washing device that doubles as an exercise machine. So, not only will you save the vast amounts of water used by a traditional washing machines that you would use otherwise, you’ll use zero electricity and you and your team can get some exercise as well!
Yes, the planet may be heating up at an unprecedented rate and action is needed by governments and international bodies. However, as entrepreneurs we can still make a huge impact by being more careful with our energy, heat and water use and taking steps to reduce them. For example, your business could reduce your non-renewable energy usage to zero. By taking on board the types of technologies discussed here your startup or growth business can commit to a reduced environmental impact and keep your costs down at the same time.
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.