Real Earth Solutions

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Principle 2: Catch & Store Energy

Catch and Store Energy:

This design principle may seem obvious on the surface – and there are obvious ways to apply it. However, taking a deeper dive into how it may be useful for your business or organisation could yield some less obvious applications.

1. Renewable Energy:

Let’s take the obvious one first – in an era of net-zero targets and renewable energy, how can your business access clean renewable energy? Are solar panels on the roof a viable option? Or if the solar panels are already in place, is adding a battery worthwhile? An alternative may be to invest in electric vehicles for the business or staff, to be charged during the day, taking advantage of the solar gain. You may be able to access rebate programs or low/no interest loans to assist with the initial capital investment, with the subsequent energy savings available to repay the loan. The same questions can be asked of alternative renewable energy sources including green hydrogen, wind, or ground-sourced heat.

Perhaps you are leasing premises, don’t have access to capital, or don’t have access to enough sunlight?  If you are not able to directly invest in renewable energy infrastructure, you can instead purchase renewable energy through your energy provider. This may not be the cheapest energy available, but if driving a renewable future is important to you, your business, and your customers, this investment helps to drive renewable infrastructure more widely, and may be paid back many times over through leveraging the positive perceptions of your customers or investors.

2. Energy Efficiency:

Reducing energy requirements saves energy and money.  Examples could include installing movement sensor lights for bathrooms, store rooms or hallways, reducing drafts into office spaces, replacing gas heating with heat pump technology (Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning), cleaning RCAC filters (this can make a surprising difference, as well as providing health benefits), improving insulation, installing ceiling fans, or providing external shade to windows in summer. Depending on the nature of the business, the type of actions will vary and may make a small or larger percentage improvement to overall energy consumption. Becoming 100% electric will save on gas connection fees, usage, and reliance on fossil fuels. Perhaps there is an opportunity to harvest ‘waste’ heat or water from other activities or processes, to use elsewhere within the business.

Once you have done everything possible to reduce energy consumption, you can purchase offsets to invest in tree planting, which in turn harvests the sun into timber. A word of caution though – offsets do not make up for poor behaviour – they are the last stage after all the other measures have been taken. Take time to research any program that provides offsets, and make sure they are legitimate and measureable.

3. Invest in your people:

Show that you value your staff by providing opportunities like training, conferences, leadership mentoring, team building days, mental health programs, and flexible working arrangements. Constructive and positive reinforcement cost nothing! If your workforce are engaged and happy in the job, they will in turn invest in the business and provide a better service, stay longer in the position, and be the best advocates for your organisation. The knowledge held by your staff can also be considered a type of ‘energy’ and is valuable to the organisation. A constant turnover costs money in terms of down time and training of new staff, and creates a poorer perception more broadly. Investing in existing staff costs less, and creates a positive perception of the organisation as a desirable place to work.

4. Invest in your customers:

Your existing customers are potentially more valuable to you than chasing new customers. Train your staff to provide excellent service. Create value for customers by providing benefits, which could be discounts on return orders, rewards for referrals, or bonus information and newsletters for members only. Keep your mailing lists up to date, and use them strategically to remind your customers of special offers or events (no spam please!).

5. Invest in your community:

The reputation of your business or organisation and perception of good will within the local or professional community are difficult to quantify, but could make the difference between success or failure. Participate in professional networks, offer to sponsor a local community organisation or event, or create opportunities for your staff to participate in team fundraisers. Activities like these may take a little time, but don’t need to have a large financial investment. Be active and seen in your local community. A good reputation is like money in the bank, but once lost can be very difficult and slow to regain.

Energy can be perceived in a variety of ways, and taking a broader view of how your business or organisation inputs, uses, and loses energy can be a valuable exercise. Expanding our understanding of energy to include the workforce, the knowledge base held within the organisation, the value we place on staff and customers, and the reputation and goodwill of the organisation, creates multiple inflection points where we can take action to catch and store energy.

Are you ready to catch and store energy within your organisation or business? Email to discuss how we can support your aspirations.

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