Strategy and Best Practices
Article | July 8, 2022
“With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”
– Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet)
We, humans, had completely buried this quote until it was brought back to life recently. Business leaders should remember this quote as it perfectly fits into the environmental-business perspective that we are presently facing.
If the world has to tackle the problem of climate change or come even close to achieving that goal, businesses and industries will have to play a key role. Almost a quarter, or 23% to be precise, of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, come directly from industries. This number rises to 29.6% if we combine indirect emissions too.
When looking for causes of climate change, the private sector is often linked to. Minimizing your carbon footprint appears to be the year's buzzword, but where can businesses begin with such an ambiguous task? How do we assess progress? Peter Drucker wrote the premise of an answer back in 1954: "What gets measured, gets managed."
If a business really wants to become more sustainable, the first step should be to try to understand its current situation and begin tracking its carbon emissions. Measuring carbon emissions is a difficult problem. Major businesses that do not have carbon monitoring and reduction programs have become the exception.
Recognizing and measuring CO2 emissions aids in the identification of excessive energy consumption and other inefficiencies. Most of the time, lowering greenhouse gas emissions goes hand in hand with making a business's processes more efficient and cost-effective.
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: What Do Businesses Gain?
In addition to the long-term environmental benefits that will help us in saving our planet, organizations can also benefit from the positive impacts of greenhouse gas emission reduction. Some of the top benefits of effective emission management are as follows.
When it comes to cost reductions, simply minimizing your energy consumption reduces both your organization's carbon footprint and its operating expenses. According to a 2016 Energy Star report, the owner of Kimberly-Clark Berkley Mill invested $350,000, which generated yearly savings of $160,000 and a rapid return on investment (ROI) of just over one and a half years when LED lighting was installed to replace the fluorescent and HID lighting that was traditionally used.
With a 20-fold rise in global climate change regulations since 1997, securing proactive regulatory compliance is much more important than ever in the minds of corporate leadership, public spheres, and stakeholders – and it's only becoming more important. Adopting an effective greenhouse gas emission reduction program, as well as tracking and reporting on progress, is essential for businesses to adopt in order to maintain operations and avoid penalties.
Improved External Relations
Consumer spending power has an enormous impact on the process of shaping organizational action. In the eyes of the public, the process of committing to responsibility in the domains of broader sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions reduction is a significant credibility boost. When your company takes proactive steps to reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, the resulting increase in the quality and depth of relationships with potential partners and external business connections is priceless.
Enhanced Stakeholder Relationships
Along with a stronger relationship with the audience, the influence of transparent sustainability indicators and performance has the potential to strengthen crucial relationships with stakeholders. More investors than ever are shifting capital away from carbon-heavy, secretive businesses and toward companies that have decided to be open, proactive, and honest regarding their greenhouse gas emissions management within the sustainability world and beyond. Emission Sources Defined in Business Operations Within a business's operation chain, emission sources are classified into three categories. These scopes are established so that businesses can trace the source of their greenhouse gas emissions and modify their operations to minimize their carbon footprint.
Emission scope is defined as follows:
Scope 1 Emission
Scope 1 emissions are directly caused by business operations. Organizations with fossil fuel-burning vehicle fleets, for example, are directly liable for carbon emissions by burning those fossil fuels.
Scope 2 Emission
Scope 2 emissions are caused by an organization purchasing energy (e.g., electricity, heat, or air conditioning) produced by a process that emits greenhouse gases. A scope 2 emission is, for example, electricity generated by burning coal that a business later purchases. Because the company consumes this energy, they must record the emissions generated when it was generated.
Scope 3 Emissions
Scope 3 emissions are not caused by a company's direct activities. Other entities in a company's value chain are responsible for these emissions. Scope 3 emissions for one organization could be scope 1 and 2 emissions for another. A company that manufactures products, for example, would have scope 3 emissions from a company that eventually disposes of those items. Scope 3 is responsible for most of a company's emissions, accounting for 65% to 95% of a company's carbon footprint. Currently, reporting scope 3 emissions is optional for businesses. Organizations must, however, start tracking their scope 3 emissions since this is where tremendous reductions in carbon emissions can occur.
How Are Large Enterprises Measuring and Reducing Their Carbon Footprints?
Larger enterprises, like Apple and ExxonMobil, have begun to provide scope 3 emissions data. Other companies are collaborating with their supply chain to build collaborative initiatives among companies to report these emissions. Businesses have begun to cooperate even outside of supply chains. Competitors in the same industry have started to form partnerships to solve the issue of measuring their carbon footprints. Because these organizations often share manufacturers and suppliers, they have decided to deal with the issue together.
Other businesses manage environmental sustainability in a different manner.Enterprises in the agriculture industry have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, recycle, and provide resources and information to smaller agricultural organizations wanting to go green.Many of the world’s leading auto manufacturers help by producing vehicles that are more environmentally friendly and have the better fuel economy. Others are creating alternative-fuel cars or investing in sustainable energy projects.
The major retailers, manufacturers, and software companies have all made efforts to reduce their carbon footprint in different ways. Many multinational enterprises are adopting more sustainable business practices, such as using renewable energy and recycled materials in product manufacturing.
How Can Small Businesses Seek Help Measuring Their Carbon Footprints?
For the time being, many small businesses are finding it difficult to gather data on all these emissions that are beyond their control. According to the BBC, only 10% of more than 1,000 organizations surveyed in the United Kingdom keep track of their carbon footprint. Moreover, one in every five companies does not understand what the term "net-zero" means and a third really hasn't sought any help to make their company more sustainable. Exploring available information on measuring emissions data is the best approach for small businesses to understand more about the ways they can reduce their carbon footprint. The EPA Center for Corporate Climate Leadership includes a wealth of resources to assist small business owners in measuring and reporting their emissions. Business owners can learn how to establish a greenhouse gas inventory, measure their emissions, collaborate with sustainable suppliers, and gather data to develop sustainable solutions.
Small businesses can also utilize a carbon footprint calculator to determine the quantity of emissions generated by their activities. Once company owners realize how much carbon they are emitting, they can start to tackle where it is coming from and make the necessary modifications. The most important thing that business owners can do is to always look for ways to improve their business's sustainability. Additional information will be made available to help company owners as they seek guidance on how to minimize their carbon footprint.
Best Practices for Companies to Achieve Net Zero and Stay Profitable
Transitioning to net zero is such a demanding task that many businesses believe it is impossible to do while retaining profit margins. As a result, many businesses concentrate on low-hanging fruit and short-term alternatives, like offloading emissions onto others by divesting from high-carbon-emitting companies. Businesses, on the other hand, can start by creating a greenhouse gas inventory to monitor their carbon emissions. Here are just a few of the many ways we found that could help your business.
Cut Emissions Across the Whole Value Chain
For most businesses, the majority of emissions and the possibilities for climate action lie in "scope 3 assets". These aren't owned or managed by the reporting company, but they add to the business's value chain indirectly. Businesses must take action on scope 3 emissions in order to successfully cut emissions.
Use Sustainable Web Hosting Services
Hosting services are the silent consumers of fossil fuels. Until you host it yourself, your website is most certainly hosted on a data server in a warehouse that runs on fossil fuels. Data servers use a lot of energy since they have to be turned on and kept cool all the time. Renewable Energy Certificates are acquired by sustainable hosting providers in order to claim their renewable energy utilization.
Tackle the Root Causes
The areas of major emissions are often not the most effective sites for action. It is found that businesses are measuring emissions in order to determine underlying causes, either inside their own processes or anywhere in the value chain. Big tech businesses evaluate power efficiency down to the code level in their AI and cloud implementations and collaborate with chip manufacturers to reduce energy usage in the use of their products.
Don’t Automatically Defund High-Carbon Business
Investors are often enticed to enhance their portfolio of low-carbon activities merely by rearranging their capital allocation. However, when it comes to really incentivize reduction, a more effective technique is to engage in activities that presently generate high carbon emissions while giving out a clear and urgent roadmap to change. Some activists have realized this idea and are shifting their demands from divestment to a managed shift of high-carbon businesses.
Purchase Carbon Offsets
Carbon offsets are a type of trade. When you buy an offset, you are contributing to projects that decrease greenhouse gas emissions. A carbon calculator can help you calculate your travel carbon footprint and the monetary cost of those emissions. Remember that carbon offsets do not decrease the quantity of carbon in the atmosphere; rather, they serve as a balancing agent to neutralize the carbon emitted. Carbon offsets could be tax-deductible based on the company from whom you purchase them.
Many prominent brands, from Amazon to L'Oréal, have started to make significant investments in renewable energy and commitments to reduce emissions in their freight and logistics operations. Being mindful of how your activities contribute to greenhouse gas emissions can assist you in minimizing your carbon footprint. With the above-mentioned methods under your belt, you will be able to support the environment that we live in a while simultaneously pushing your organization to the next level of success. Don't miss the opportunity to get involved in energy-efficiency and sustainability initiatives for your company because the newest generation of consumers, millennials, have $2.45 trillion in spending power and are eager to spend more on brands that share their values of going green.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are scope 3 emissions?
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard divides a company's greenhouse gas emissions into three "scopes." Scope 1 emissions are those emitted directly from owned or controlled sources. Scope 2 emissions are those caused by the production of bought energy. Scope 3 emissions encompass all indirect emissions (not included in scope 2) that happen in the reporting company's value chain, both in upstream and downstream emissions.
What are product life cycle emissions?
All emissions related to the production and utilize a single product, from the cradle to the grave, are referred to as the product life cycle emissions and include emissions from raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, storage, sale, usage, and disposal.
How can industries reduce global warming?
By implementing passive or sustainable energy-based heating and cooling systems, increasing energy efficiency, and solving other important concerns such as methane leaks, the industry can cut its emissions by 7.3 Gt per year. New food production technologies have the capability to cut emissions by 6.7 Gt per year
Article | July 7, 2023
The pandemic emptied out most of America’s offices as workers across the country set up home workstations. Although this looked to be a temporary situation for many, it has become clear that many workers are choosing to continue to work from home, and many businesses are embracing this concept as well. If you’re one of those individuals, you may want to consider adding solar to your home.
A shift in power usage
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, “Americans spent $6 billion more on at-home power consumption from April to July 2020 than during normal times, nearly offsetting a decline in business and industrial demand.” The increase in residential consumption was fueled by increased home heating and cooling demands, workers participating in virtual meetings, running computers, printers, lamps, and other electronic devices all day long. This has resulted in a shift in energy costs from corporations to employees, with many workers seeing significant increases in their home utility bills.
Capitalizing on higher demand to maximize your system size
Solar can be a great way to offset the costs of your home's energy demands. Because your consumption is currently higher than it would be if you were working at your company's office, you have the ability to install a system that will more than cover your electricity needs if and when you do return to a corporate office setting. Although your increased usage means you'll need to add a more extensive solar photovoltaic system to your home to do this, it also provides you with an opportunity to maximize your system's size to meet your needs.
Incentives and savings
The federal solar tax credit, also known as the investment tax credit (ITC), allows you to deduct 26 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes. However, that number falls to 22 percent in 2023 and goes away in 2024 for residential projects, while commercial projects are reduced to 10 percent ongoing. The ITC applies to both residential and commercial systems and there is no cap to the size of the system the ITC can be applied to. Making plans now to invest in a solar PV system for your home can be a great way to continue to reap the rewards of working from home without it having a significant negative impact on your monthly utility bill.
Strategy and Best Practices, Energy
Article | July 27, 2022
Earth has become increasingly warmer every year with rising temperatures. The burning of fossil fuels in the past 150 years for electricity, heat, transportation, and any other human activity has increased greenhouse emissions. Other natural resources are also rapidly depleting, thus giving us a cause of worry.
Several homeowners and mainly businesses are, therefore, turning to renewable energy sources to become self-sustainable and self-reliant. Costs of commercial electricity are rising day by day with no end in sight. By turning to green energy, businesses can reduce operational costs and reinvest that amount back into their businesses.
If your business uses electricity for lighting, HAVC, computing, or production, opting solar for businesses will significantly reduce the cost. Installing these solar panels and combining them with an appropriate energy storage system, your business can save up to 20 to 25% energy and move towards energy independence.
Eligibility for Going Solar
One of the major factors to consider when going solar is whether it makes sense for your business to do so. Apart from this, going solar would be ideal for organizations that:
Work in states like California, Hawaii, or any state that either has expensive energy or massive Federal incentives
Have enough land, rooftops, or parking lots adjoining their businesses where the solar panels can Be set up
Have prioritized sustainability
Have massive energy demands
Market themselves as an environmentally friendly business
Reasons to Use Solar Power for Businesses
Growing businesses opt for investing in commercial solar power mainly to aid in offsetting additional expenses. With the expansion of the business, electricity consumption will also increase. You can also time your roof repairs or new constructions to coincide with installing new solar panels. Transforming into a business that chooses to become carbon-neutral by utilizing solar energy will enhance your business image in the community.
Implementing commercial solar panels cuts down your energy consumption and helps increase your savings. Excess energy generated by these solar panels can be stored with the help of off-grid batteries. Solar energy has a major drawback. Your company won't be powered at night or in severe weather conditions as solar only works during the day. Solar energy cannot handle the sudden power surges required to handle heavy machinery. Businesses are then forced to purchase and use commercial electricity to manage these spikes. However, these spikes can prove to be expensive. Merging photovoltaic systems with storage solutions can ease these spikes. This is vital during the "shoulder" hours when the sudden surge spikes can lead to demand charges.
Benefits of Going Solar
Reduction in Costs
The single biggest advantage of going solar is a massive reduction in electricity bills. Locations where 'net metering' is available can become another source of revenue for your business as the excess power produced can be sold to your local utility. Businesses, and companies that rely on out of date energy sources like coal, could be paying 7 to 30 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), whereas those using solar energy were paying between 2 to 12 cents per kWh.
The benefits of switching to solar depend on several factors- locations, industry, and business size. The most advantageous enterprises would be the ones who have built an appropriately sized system to cover all energy requirements and enough power to fall back on during peak consumption hours.
Businesses can incur additional charges due to demand and delivery. Utility services apply these charges to recover costs of purchasing energy and maintaining power lines and energy lost in the transmission system. Moving power sources closer to your business will help you avoidsuch preventable expenses.
There are possibilities of ascension in solar energy projects. You can start with a smaller set of solar panels that would contribute to your daily energy needs and build it over time. You can always sell the excess energy produced to your local utility provider as a source of additional revenue.
Federal Tax Incentives
As of 2021, the investment tax credit (ITC) allows businesses to deduct 22 percent of the cost of installing solar energy systems from their federal tax with no cap on its value. These businesses are eligible for the tax incentive as long as they have their energy system. I'f youdon't have enough tax liability to claim the credit that year, the outstanding credits would roll over to the next year, so long the tax credit is in effect.
Like every other power source, solar has its limitations too. The infrastructure that can consume excess solar power is not yet up to the mark. Since solar is tied to the grid, they are interdependent. If the grid fails, solar goes down too. Therefore, it is important to add a microgrid to the energy system.
Adding a micro-grid detaches your business from the utility providers and makes it independent of their services. It makes your organization what is known as an 'energy island'. The existence of these energy islands only protects your enterprise from power cuts due to natural disasters or any physical or hacking attacks. Your energy islands may also provide electricity to your local community during emergencies.
Solar energy has a massive role to play in the future of sustainability and environmental protection. By converting your business into a solar-powered business, you ensure the protection of the environment and reduce your company's carbon footprint on the planet. Studies also indicate that using solar energy for a long time also reduces utility costs. You can then invest the saved amount back into your business to promote advancements and innovations.
Being a solar-powered business could be an alluring prospect for your potential business partners. Environment-inclined customers tend to turn to prefer "responsibly green" businesses, and these businesses also appease local and state regulators, governments, and hedge funds.
Lower Maintenance Cost
Another major reason solar power is beneficial for your business is low to zero maintenance of the installed solar panels. Agencies that provide solar panels offer a warranty of 20 to 25 years on them. Since solar panels have fewer movable parts, the chances of these parts disintegrating or rusting are highly unlikely as opposed to technology that relies on movable parts. Thus, switching to solar energy would be the appropriate step to take for your business.
Things to Keep in Mind when Switching to Solar
When investing in solar energy, there are a few imperatives that businesses must follow. No matter the size, your business must be located where there is adequate sunlight, a roof strong enough to sustain the panels, and be inclined to reduce the cost of all operations.
There are various simple 'do-it-'yourself' kits launched in the market to entice small business owners to try and build these solar systems themselves.
However, it is essential to work with a solar provider when installing solar panels to get the best outcome—as in any industrial field, consulting with a solar power expert would help you optimize costs and gain maximum benefits.
Points to Explore Before Going Solar
Amount of Electricity Consumed
There are two main points to ponder over; "enough for one day" and "future years to come”. You could either sell excess energy produced to your local electricity supplier, which would add to your savings, or it could be stored with the help of li-ion batteries and utilized in the time of little to no sunshine.
Financing Solar Power for Businesses
Commercial solar power providers offer multiple business plans that would be best suited to the scale of your business. You can choose the better alternative for your business depending on how much discretionary cash you have and your solar infrastructure size. The size of the infrastructure will also depend on whether you want to gain dramatic results in terms of cost-saving or opt for low-cost start-ups and gain a more extended return on investment.
Some enterprises buy solar equipment with cash or loans. This method would give you tax credits and incentives, thus offering you a higher return on investment (ROI).
Another direction you could choose is going into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a solar energy provider and purchasing electricity from them at a lesser commercial cost. In a PPA, the developer looks after designing, permissions, financing, and installing the system for a meager amount.
Details of your precise business requirements are vital to analyze the cost and time of ROI of the solar energy system. It would depend on the place you are at and the size of your system. To get these exact details, hire the best solar energy consultant for your exact needs.
Important Steps to Remember
Outline your goals for a stable, sustainable, and financially sound future. Make sure that going solar is beneficial for your business. Calculate whether your region's utility costs are higher and hurt your business financially; whether there is ample storage space around your business to keep all the equipment. And whether adopting a green profile improves your goodwill in your local community.
Collect data on your electricity usage of at least one year to analyze the operating cost, energy spikes, and consumption patterns. Calculating business losses will aid in understanding the need to switch to solar energy.
Tie up with a commercial solar specialist when making the switch to solar energy. Often, customers fail to recognize the importance of this step. Avoid contractors who set up solar panels as a side business as they would not understand the intricacies of the job. Check all the references before you partner up with a specialist.
Last thing to keep in mind is thatgetting a solutions provider would make things easier for you. The provider will take care of everything- designing the system, finances, grid connection, and system maintenance. Ensure that you have a provider with sound support and has a portfolio of proven experience in solar infrastructure per your business needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does solar cost?
Ten years ago, the cost of a residential solar system was upwards of $50,000 for an average of 6 kilowatt-hour. Now, with a 62% average annual decrease, it ranges anywhere between $16,200 to $21,000.
How does commercial solar work?
Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic (PV) panels in a grid-like pattern that captures sunlight and converts it into electricity. The PV cells are made up of silicon with a positive and negative field that creates an electric field.
Are commercial solar panels worth it?
Commercial solar panels have a lifespan of 25-30 years. Although solar panels cost a lot initially, over the years, utility cost of your business will go down. There are also tax credits and incentives that the government offers when installing solar panels.
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"name": "Are commercial solar panels worth it?",
"text": "Commercial solar panels have a lifespan of 25-30 years. Although solar panels cost a lot initially, over the years, utility cost of your business will go down. There are also tax credits and incentives that the government offers when installing solar panels."
Article | December 23, 2021
With the popularity of solar increasing across the country, the number of solar installers has been multiplying. Unfortunately, many fly-by-night companies with minimal installation experience or larger national firms with little market history are trying to capitalize on the industry’s growth. In addition, the sheer volume of installation partners that consumers have to choose from can result in a great deal of buyer confusion.
More choices, more issues
As the number of solar installers has gone up, so have complaints and issues related to providers and their service. Recently, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry reached terms with Empire Solar Group LLC’s trustees, a national solar installer that went bankrupt earlier this year, leaving 45 homeowners in Minnesota with projects in various levels of incompletion. Unfortunately, they’re not alone, as many other consumers have also fallen into precarious situations after companies using high-pressure sales tactics have been unable to deliver on the work. Michael Allen, CEO of All Energy Solar, says, “He’s angered that companies go out of business and face no fines.” Allen and other established industry leaders have done their best to help out customers caught in the middle of an installer’s bankruptcy issues, but there is only so much they can do.
What protections do consumers have?
In some cases, states have put into place protections for consumers; for example, in Minnesota, consumers stranded with uncompleted projects can get access to the state’s Contractor Recovery Fund, which receives money from licensing fees to help offset these costs. But that is of little comfort for those trying to determine what partner to choose for their project.
The best bet
When picking a solar installation partner, your best bet is to avoid those with high-pressure sales tactics, “too-good-to-be-true” pricing, or ones with little to no installation experience. Don’t simply trust the sales rep, do a little of your own research to see what other customers are saying. Looking for a record of successfully completed projects and businesses with state and national certifications can be another way to confirm credibility.