Neutral Territory Doing Well With Emissions!

Buildings derived carbon emissions are constantly monitored at Claydon Court and we analyse the results so to identify ways to improve. Below is a graph of the Claydon Court emissions from January 2013 to present. Clearly there are some interesting trends we need to address.

CC_Utils_pin-Up_2013_feb_15

Click the graph to enlarge.

Some trends worth noting:

1. Total Co2 emissions (blue line) have steadily risen as we’ve reached full occupancy

2. The amount of Co2/person (red line) has decreased despite the fact that more people have moved in which would indicate an overall reduction as we would expect it to remain constant.

3. Generally emit the most carbon/ person in January (red line).

4. Don’t emit that much less carbon in the summer months (blue line).

It would be expected that our total Co2 emissions would rise as more tenants move into the buildings but it seems so far that these tenants have been more efficient ones than those already here as the amount of carbon per person is lower than previous year so far particularly during the summer.

Neutral Territory is investigating implementing smart shading and ventilation measures at Claydon Court to decrease the variable temperature in the building without mechanical intervention. We will be posting on this in the next few days.

 

Buying Renewable Energy = Carbon Neutral = Cheaper Than Balancing?

We’ve been looking into changing our electricity provider at Claydon Court at the moment so we did some research on the cost of buying a renewable energy policy vs balancing out “dirty” electricity with the World Land Trust as we currently advocate.

A number of electricity suppliers in the UK now offer a plan which is advertised as 100% renewable energy.

CN Icon Wind

UK renewables electricity tariffs actually work by supplying the user with electricity from the national grid but for every unit (kWh) consumed, the energy provider buys one back from renewables generators to be added to the grid subsequently.

As it is not currently possible to trace the source of the actual electrons you receive and so this is currently the best way to allow customers to pay for renewable energy.

This is a similar process to carbon balancing – (a process where you can pay after you’ve generated emissions to fund projects that reduce the net level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) – in that you take supply of dirty energy initially and take action to neutralise the carbon emissions afterwards.

We got some quotes for a small/medium sized business and undertook some cost analysis to see which of these similar processes is currenly cheaper to enact: renewable electricity or balancing normal electricity.

According to the Department of Energy and Climate change, the average Non-Domestic (i.e business) electricity consumption for the East of England as 69808 kWh per year.

green_pound2_13084

A reputable comparison service last week supplied us with the best current prices per kWh for a renewable and a non-renewable tariff (excluding standing charges for now to keep things simple):

There’s currently a 1p/KWh (day units) difference between the cheapest standard electricity plan  and the cheapest renewables plan for a small/medium sized business. This works out annually thusly:

Renewables plan: £8,377 / annum on average in East of England

Standard plan: £7,679 / annum on average in East of England

This produces a yearly saving of just under £700 if you chose the standard plan and aren’t concerned with the emissions output.

However, using that amount of electricity would generate emissions of 35 tonnes of CO2 with a standard plan (the renewables tariff comes ready-balanced). The cost to balance out the 35 tonnes of CO2 with the World Land Trust’s stands at £524 (£15/tonne).

So the effective cost of a carbon-balanced, non-renewable energy plan (electricity cost + carbon balancing cost) would still be £100 cheaper (£8,202) than the renewables plan (£8,377) per year and I haven’t even included the standing charges which were also higher with the renewables plan.

Greenwashing-Carbon-Offsetting-Cartoon

It is also worth noting that carbon balancing often has further reaching benefits to the world than only balancing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Many projects also restore the ecological structure of endangered forest habitats as well as their plant-density and consequent capacity to sequester CO2. Projects may also have socio-economic benefits where ecosystem restoration provides improvements to the quality of life of peoples local to the project area in tourism or ecosystems services for example.

So for the best deal on a carbon balanced electricity policy, we can conclude that it is currently cheaper to use the cheapest standard plan you can find, minimise the amount you use and balance what you can’t reduce via the World Land Trust.

As we’ve always said Measure, Reduce, Balance!

 

Measuring Your Footprint Is a Great Way to Get People Interested

As I share office space with the company, I (Andrew) agreed to help out with an annual carbon footprint size-up for Strident Computer Systems (holders of Gold Suffolk Carbon Charter status). So, this morning, I spent the last half an hour or so collating some of their carbon information including asking staff about their transport habits.

It struck me as I was walking around asking people about their cars’ engines and how far they travelled to work that the measurement phase is a really great way to get people clued up on the low-carbon programme and/or refresh interest and participation.

People were proud to tell me that they used fuel-efficient cars and mildly sheepish if not, they asked if there was anything more they could be doing to reduce their contributions to the business’s carbon footprint.

I thought that this confirmed the message that we try to put out with the LCC CIC site that the smallest steps are the both the easiest and the most effective in a small business in managing carbon emissions and so I thought I would share.

Likewise, we’d love to hear from anybody who has successfully completed a carbon footprint measurement and hopefully how quick and easy they found it! Just post on the Q&A or comment on this post.

Website Update & New Team Member!

As you’ll be able to see surrounding this post is a slightly altered website.

It’s not quite the finished article yet but its function remains very much the same.

LCC CIC Logo

We’ve cut things down to be ultra-simple, rather like we did with our Measure Reduce Balance model to reduce your footprint by.

You can still ask questions to the champions community and gain points to your profile (which we will reward the fortnightly best contributor with a tree planted in your honour).

It would be a great (re)start if you were a fairly active user last year to let us know what you have been up to over the last few months and any changes you’ve made to your low carbon agenda!

This blog will be updated at least once a week with thought provoking posts and novel suggestions on how we can improve the way we manage carbon in our operations.

Hope to see and contribute to some great discussions from you out there in Suffolk very soon!

I should also take this opportunity to introduce myself as the newest member of the LCC team. My name is Andrew Woodhouse, I’m a physical Geography graduate and I’ll be the principal site monitor for the next few months at least.

I’m really looking forward to helping unlock the power of knowledge that I know exists in pockets of Suffolk already and helping it to spread the low carbon message all over what will become known as ‘the greenest county’!

Intern_andrew

P.S. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for more regular updates on all things low carbon Suffolk. www.twitter.com/LowCarbonChamps

Energy harnessing road ramps?

Having read an article on G. Park Blue Planet, the first building to achieve a BREEAM Outstanding rating, I couldn’t help questioning the use of something I had not heard of before, electro-kinetic road plates.

Apparently they are set within roads to help generate electricity from vehicles passing over them. Hang on, taking power away from cars? Surely counterproductive.
However, they are only used in places where vehicles are meant to be slowing down anyway, so it’s utilising power that would otherwise be lost in the breaks.
Still sounds overly expensive for the amount you get out though, not sure about it being a viable part of green plans unless you were really tight on space and had loads of money to spare.

Here’s a video of how it works for those interesteroadrampd. Most coverage of it seems to be 4 or more years old which makes me think it was a bit of a fad.

 

 

Making the commercial case for Green commercial property

Research suggests the green building benefits can add 7% to rents but the message isn’t getting through to landlords yet.

This was identified at the earlier Low Carbon Champions programme and the recent SABRE close out event.  Landlords face a dilemma when matching the term of low carbon investments which can be as long as fifteen years with lease commitments which can be as short as six months.

The problem for landlords is how to recoup energy saving investments.  Typically energy costs will be charged directly so tenants enjoy the cost reduction not them.  The main options are a surcharge on energy prices and/or on rent.  This can work but only if the linkage is both plausible and explicit and at Neutral Territory we follow a simple 3-step Measure, Reduce, Balance model.

  • First, we Measure energy use and cost out viable reduction projects.
  • Second, we calculate the cost of energy Reduction projects and amortize these over the payback period of a maximum of ten years. This is then clearly charged on to tenants (£1.00 per sq foot) at above the market rent.
  • Finally, we make a small surcharge on energy use (£0.15 per sq ft) to pay for Balancing (i.e. offsetting) the remaining carbon through World Land Trust.

Neutral Territory encourages all tenants to pay this due to the resultant savings in energy and their commitment to a green economy.