ESOS: Driving forward..

As we reach the extended deadline for large companies within the UK to comply to the Government’s Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), it is a good time to reflect on the main outcomes that were common across many of the reviews we conducted.

Depending on the level of detail, audits can identify savings of between 10-40% and this is certainly the case with the organisations that we have worked with. Running through the audits there were a few themes where the vast majority of organisations could reduce energy consumption, save money and thereby improve the bottom line.

Low-hanging fruit

When visiting any organisation with a large number of employees it is clear that small actions by many will result in a large cumulative energy reduction. An effective employee engagement campaign, tailored to an organisation, is one example of the relatively simple opportunities to drive down energy expenditures. Just by adjusting the heating timer or the layout of an office, coupled benefits of energy saving and employee comfort can be achieved. Typically, zero or low investment opportunities alone could achieve 10% reductions in energy bills.

Transport

Though not the case with all organisations, where the company owns or leases vehicles, transport makes up a significant proportion of their total energy consumption. This presents attractive energy and cost saving opportunities, for example vehicle procurement policies, driver efficiency training and more effective route planning, all achieving dramatic fuel reductions. This came as a surprise, particularly to organisations with an established energy and sustainability management policy, highlighting that across sectors, not enough attention has been paid to decarbonisation of the transport sector.

Management

With this being the first ESOS reference period there was a sense of ‘getting your house in order’ to get an idea of the energy baseline before considering more significant investments. In many cases, responsibility for energy management was limited to supplier account management without considering the organisations’ energy expenditure. The attitude of ‘the cost is the cost’ is almost unique to energy bills and wouldn’t be accepted in any other area of business. Designating one or a few individuals as responsible for understanding, monitoring and managing energy consumption will inevitably lead to achievements in reducing energy demand.

Looking to the future, it is likely that the multiple policies and regulations relating to energy and carbon reduction will be amalgamated in to one energy tax similar to the Climate Change Levy (CCL) and one reporting system that is based on ESOS; many of these policy decisions are expected to be announced in the Spring budget in March. To date, ESOS has highlighted the wealth of energy-saving opportunities but hopefully also raised energy management up the agenda, bringing it to the attention of company boards and directors. With current low prices, now would be an attractive time to act on opportunities to future proof organisations against rising energy costs and more stringent energy policies. Time will tell how the policy landscape might change but CO2balance will continue to work with all of our clients to help manage their energy and make significant cost savings in the process.

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TRUE VALUE OF TREES TO YOU AND ME!

The term “biodiversity” is used to describe the variety of life. This variety is what an ecosystem depends on. It is helpful to think of an ecosystem as a woven carpet; if you pull on a loose thread thinking that it might only affect the thread and those closest to it then you may be shocked as the single thread unravels the whole carpet.
Trees are like natural air conditioners and water pumps. They cool the earth by giving shade and recycling water. By cooling the air and ground around them, the shade from trees helps cool the earth’s temperature overall. Trees also help moderate the earth’s rainfall, which also helps keep the temperature cooler.

Every day we use or eat something that has come from a tree. Think about the paper we write on, the pencils we use and the furniture we sit on – they all came from trees. The uses of wood are virtually endless. In addition to being processed into products, trees are also cut down so their wood can be used as fuel to cook food and heat homes. This is where man begins abusing them badly.

But we don’t always have to cut down a tree to be able to make something from it. The rubber that you find on soles of your shoes is made from sap that comes from a type of tree found in Brazil, India, China and Southeast Asia. Cork is the bark of the evergreen cork oak found in the Mediterranean region. Cork has the ability to contract when squeezed and then expand back out again.

How many different fruits or nuts can you think of that come from trees? What about the maple syrup we like to eat on our pancakes? Sap is tapped from the sugar maple to make maple syrup. And did you know that cinnamon comes from the bark of a tree that grows in India?

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In short am saying that tress are so crucial to our lives that we need to protect them. At CARBON ZERO we do our best through the improved cook stoves that use less firewood thus saving forests. These cook stoves directly benefit both the forest’s fringe villages and the wildlife habitats. The good thing is that the people understand its values and have enthusiastically welcomed them. With improved cook stoves there is reduced amount of biomass harvested and therefore help conserve forests and their ecosystems.

As you can probably tell from the important reasons that are stated above, the deforestation and destruction of the world’s forests and rainforests could have disastrous consequences for the planet Earth itself, the human race and all the other species that exist on this planet with us. This is why it is important that we try as hard as possible to stop the deforestation the planet’s forests.

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In Kaptagat area in the Rift Valley in Kenya speaking to the community members they say that a few years ago before they got energy efficient cook stoves form Carbon Zero Lessios forest (pictured above) was highly destroyed by villagers due to insatiable search for wood fuel. Many trees were cut down day in day out as families sort for a source of fuel. This threatened the forest existence. But the community members gladly indicate that after they received the stoves from Carbon Zero they have been able to save the forest as little wood is harvested.

Touching Lives in Likoni

Talk of impacting young lives and you will be talking about co2balance CSR project in Likoni; Shikaadabu primary school. This is a public mixed primary school in the Coastal region of Kenya.

In February this year co2balance through its CSR initiatives helped the school put up a fence and agate as a way of giving back to the community with the understanding that kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together.

And guess what! The results are tremendous already. While speaking to the school head teacher Madam Khadija she categorically states that the project has been so helpful as it has effectively curbed truancy thus they are able to keep pupils in school. This is so because they are able to monitor anybody getting out of school and coming in. Initially lack of a fence led to high levels of truancy thus affected performance. The school had very poor results even in national exams since truancy levels were so high. Pupils could sneak out of school any time.

The head teacher says ‘…. as a school we are very happy and we thank carbon zero so much, the community and parents are very happy and we are sure that even our performance will change since the school environment supports learning at least unlike before’.

Further she states that because of the fence we can now do some farming on the school compound something we couldn’t do previously. People would come in and steal our vegetables and other crops but now we plant our vegetables and other crops with ease. Currently we get our vegetables from the school farm. This is so good and we are happy.

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She adds that ‘….co2balance helped us plant some trees around the school and this has improved the aesthetic value of our school. With this as a school we hope to plant more trees thus be part of the global campaign against climate change.’

 

Earning an extra coin through livestock farming; A Case Study of the Meru Project

Mary Mbaka a mother of three lives in Kiangondu village, Chuka Division, Meru South, Kenya.

Mary is a farmer and is a beneficiary of an energy efficient cook stove acquired from Carbon Zero Kenya Ltd .Having used Carbon Zero stove for the last one year, she was delighted to say that “Prior to receiving this good stove my cows always bellowed because I did not have enough time to feed and water them. This is because after picking tea, I used to travel long distances to fetch firewood therefore lacking required time to feed and water them. As a result, the amount of milk produced was not enough for the family and for sale.”

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Mary is a happy mother and wife because the distances she used to cover to the forest are only covered once a week as compared to the previous number of times when she was using the traditional hearth. Presently, the time saved from the forest visits is used to feed and water the animals among other household chores. This has in-turn helped in increased milk production and consequently revenue. She adds, ”From the sales of milk I can now pay my children’s school fees and buy more animal feeds especially during the dry season when there is little nappier grass in the fields. I am glad that I do not depend on my husband’s income always but rather complement it.”

Co2balance has in this case added value to the lives of Meru South people in their livelihoods and contributed to environmental resilience in this Region.

CARBON ZERO STOVES CHANGING LIVES IN MAUNGU KENYA

Bordering the Tsavo East and West national parks lays a small dusty town of Maungu. With a population of at least two thousand inhabitants from different communities unemployment is at a high rate. For most of the population here, charcoal burning serves as their main source of income with charcoal as the dominant fuel used. That was before co2balance came along and donated free cook stoves in which majority if not all members of this community benefited.

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One such beneficiary is Patricia Mwikali who is also a social worker in this community. Aged fifty eight, she shares her home with her husband, daughter in-law and grandson. This has been her third year since she benefited from the stove. She says she uses the carbon zero stove at least three times a day and this has brought great improvement to her family’s health and finance. Her daughter in-law doesn’t have to walk for long distances in search of firewood as a few branches of trees pruned and dried from the farm meet the family’s daily fuel consumption needs, thanks to the low fuel consumption CZK stove.

She says that ‘attending my chama meetings has never been easier where I mingle with other women who have the same efficient cook stove in developmental issues like poultry farming. We rear poultry from which we get our daily income from.’ She say that at first getting capital to start her project seemed out of reach but as soon as she got the stove, she started saving the money which she used to spend on paraffin and charcoal; and up till now they own  three hundred broiler chicken.
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For Patricia, hers is a success story of how co2balance has improved the livelihoods of this community using the carbon zero stove. With the help of the ECLO’s, this particular community has been educated on simple and better ways of how to improve on the environment they live in hence leaving it for future generations in a much better way than they found it.