Incorporating Renewable Energy Solutions into Your Business

It has become a necessity for small businesses to be accountable for their environmental impact, with many now even incorporating their green credentials into their brand profile and using their sustainability policy as a powerful marketing tool.Energy

You’ve probably been practicing green policies on your business premises and throughout your daily operations for years, with recycling efforts, dual flush toilets and staff incentives to save energy commonplace in businesses of all size and scope.

But what can you implement when you’re looking to really make an environmental impact? When you’re looking to save money in the long term, establish yourself as a forward thinking environmentally friendly brand and really make innovative changes?

The way we’re harnessing energy has changed dramatically over recent years and unless you’re really on the pulse, you may not be fully aware of the options open to you. So cutting the jargon, these corporate (and domestic) solutions are reliable, intelligent and designed to significantly affect your impact on the environment.

Ground Source Heat Pumps

What is a ground source heat pump?

Ground source heat pumps essentially utilise natural heat from the ground via a network of underground pipes (a ground loop) containing water and anti-freeze. Heat from the ground is transferred to the ground loop before passing through a heat exchanger and into a heat pump. The cooled fluid then starts the process again. It goes without saying that in order to heat a large space you will need a longer loop, but if you are short on surface area then it is also possible to use a vertical borehole, which can reach depths of between 50 and 250 metres.

The heat pump does require some electricity to operate, however considering a ground source heat pump harnesses renewable, natural energy, this heating method is still considered highly environmentally conscious.

How does this benefit me?

Ground source heat pumps effectively heat your space and your hot water while reducing your carbon footprint and reducing your reliance on fuel. They are suitable for year round use, however in the winter, unlike conventional electric heating, the heat pump may need to be in constant operation – you could still reap lower fuel bills by changing from conventional heating however.

You can also benefit from the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), a government initiative which financially rewards businesses and homeowners using ground source heat pumps. The system is also basically maintenance free, so you don’t need to worry about regular inspections.

Air Source Heat Pumps

An air source heat pump extracts heat from the outside air – even at incredibly low temperatures. The heat extracted is then absorbed into a liquid that passes through a compressor. Here its temperature is increased ready to heat the premises via your central heating system (air to water system) or via fans (air to air system – used for heating the air and generally not water). Just like ground source heat pumps, they do require some electricity to run, however again the heat energy is a natural product.

How does this benefit me?

Air source heat pumps are robust enough to deliver hot water in temperatures as low as 20C, so rest assured they are certainly fit for cold winters! Even at these cold temperatures, the pumps are still efficient with zero CO2 emissions. They can also be interchangeable and used to cool as well as heat.

An air source heat pump is a great budget solution, a little like an air conditioning unit they can sit on the ground or be attached to a suitable wall – no ground loop is necessary.

Vehicle Policy

Establishing an entire green fleet of zero emission vehicles may be stretching your budget, but you can improve vehicle efficiency by simply just practising ‘efficient’ driving techniques within your team. By reducing loads wherever possible, reducing engine idling time and refraining from harsh accelerating, you can start working on your environmental impact quickly and easily. Your staff may not appreciate going back to the Highway Code, but a lot has probably changed since they sat their driving tests!

How does this benefit me?

As well as getting more miles per gallon and saving on fuel, a fleet of green vehicles should be worked into your marketing strategy as a feature which puts you above your competitors. Retail giants Marks and Spencer are a good example of a company that has utilised their green policy to cement themselves as a forward thinking company, with streamlined green lorries (complete with printed on credentials) regularly cruising the British motorways. Setting up a sustainability policy, showcasing it on your website and creating a PR piece are also great ways to reduce your carbon footprint, save money and give yourself an edge in how you market your business. You’re green and innovative – embrace it.

About Victoria

Victoria is an environmental blogger for REC Resource and Environmental Consultants Ltd. REC specialises in a range of corporate service such as renewable energy and air quality assessments.