It’s not all doom and gloom for the future of natural resources, however. There are alternatives. From utilising these more renewable resources, to the difference individuals can make in an office, there are solutions which will have a noticeably positive impact.
Renewable and clean energy sources
The elements have the potential to cause incredible destruction – but they can also be harnessed to our benefit. These clean energy sources have the potential to keep us powered for a substantial time after more traditional resources run dry.
Solar Power – This type of energy is produced by the sun. It works by absorbing the power given off by solar rays via a system of specialist panels. These are often attached to the roofs of houses or buildings, which in turn generate power. Depending on the panels (PV or thermal) you choose, solar power can create electricity or heat.
Wind Power – The forerunner to this brand of energy production came in the form of the windmill. Today, gigantic turbines power generators without the need to tap into limited resources. Many do cite them as an eyesore, but large-scale farms have been set-up all around the British coastline.
Biomass – These are fuels made up of natural ingredients (such as wood substances and crop materials), and provide an environmentally healthy means of energy for businesses. Biomass is viewed as a carbon-neutral option, as when burned, it only releases the carbon it has previously absorbed.
Hydropower – Water flows through specially controlled gates to produce this form of energy, which is said to account for as much as 7% of the US' electrical generation. Again there are drawbacks to consider. This time around, it comes in the form of the potential for droughts to affect energy supply, as well as the fact water is not actually a completely renewable resource.
Energy saving ideas in the workplace
We’ve already looked at the overarching changes a workplace can make to ensure better environmental standards are met regarding a corporate approach. Here are some innovative ideas which can be carried out on a more human level.
Assign an energy warden – Just as you have a fire warden and first aider to ensure your safety requirements are met, so too should you introduce someone who keeps tabs on energy usage. They could file regular reports on a monthly basis, detailing issues and suggested improvements.
Make it a competition – To really spice things up, why not make it a competition between departments or teams? This will not only promote better energy saving standards, but also boost morale and team spirit in the office.
Construct a tea rota – Rather than having everyone head off and make tea whenever they see fit, instead opt for a system which ensures the kettle is only boiled once. You can use handy tea generator tools in place of a rota system if people would prefer. These little office tricks can save a lot of energy in the long run.
Offer rewards – People are bound to strive harder towards an end goal if they know there’s something in it for them. This doesn’t have to be anything ridiculously expensive. Something as simple as a box of chocolates or bottle of wine should be enough to compensate the additional effort employees are putting in
Bring in an energy saving jar – Just as swear jars have been introduced to prevent people from cursing, an energy saving jar can be used to stop someone from being wasteful with the amount of energy they’re using. Enforce a small fine every time someone is found to breach the rules of the jar.
Schemes and initiatives
As well as the basic steps you and your employees can take, there are a number of schemes which have been set up to help encourage everyone to have more of a positive impact from an environmental perspective. These include:
CRC (Carbon Reduction Commitment) Energy Efficiency Scheme – This initiative encourages businesses to register themselves for a scheme which monitors the levels of CO2 they’re producing. The idea is to improve energy efficiency, and buy an allowance from the government to ensure you don’t exceed your allotted annual emissions.
Workplace Charging Scheme – This innovative idea allows employers to purchase vouchers which each relate to a specific charging port in their building. Each port has a limit of ￡300 you can spend on it. The concept of the scheme is to promote the use of ultra-low energy emissions.
Groundwork Business Award Scheme – This tier-based ranking system has been introduced in some parts of the UK to encourage organisations to adopt a more environmentally friendly approach. The awards system is broken up into four categories:
Bronze – A company ensures a good grounding for a healthier and more environmentally way of working
Silver – Monitoring environmental patterns, and bringing in reasonable and realistic improvements
Introducing advanced environmental practices and initiatives at your company
Platinum – Becoming an inspiration to other companies in the local area for your green standards
ISO 14001 – This is a certification handed out to businesses who manage to create an Environmental Management System which consistently adheres to strict requirements. Annual assessments take place to ensure these standards are being continually met.
The beauty of the ISO 14001, is you’ll be guided through every step of the process to guarantee you don’t fall short of what’s being asked of you. As a nationally respected certification of environmental excellence, it’s a process worth entering into.