In these pages you will find blogs, articles and book reviews about the real-life challenges of sustainability and resource efficiency. I hope that, in some small way, that these will help al those involved in the huge tasks we face to transform our relationship with nature while delivering value to our organisations and stakeholders. Please do feel free to comment and offer you own thoughts! You can comment in the space below any article, or you can contact me using the details to the right. I look forward to your inputs!.
It was a privilege to participate in the Manchester Green Summit yesterday as the event was heavily over-subscribed. I found the meeting very stimulating with a wide range of views about how Manchester could become the “Greenest” City Region in the UK. Here are my semi-random thoughts on the event…
Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, started proceeding by setting out an aspiration for Manchester to become a zero-carbon city – although he did not pledge a specific date to achieve this, he did suggest that we should be bold and commit to achieving this at least a decade earlier than the current 2050 target date.
The reason we need this level of urgency was starkly presented by Kevin Anderson from the Tyndal Centre. His brilliant talk cut through all the complexities surrounding emissions goals and reminded us that there is only one thing that matters – the absolute CO2 emissions that we put into the atmosphere. According to research by him and his colleagues we (Greater Manchester) have a budget of just 71 million tonnes of CO2 in order to meet the 2 ºC target we signed up to in the Paris Agreement. At current rates of emissions we will spend this in just 5-6 years.
“I was wondering if you would like to discuss the possibility of speaking at The UK Sustainability Expo which is a conference and expo being held on the 26th June in the Ricoh Arena, Coventry”
I am quite regularly approached to speak at events and make a point of carving out the time to attend a few engagements each year. So I checked the date out and responded that I would be available to speak on that date and would look forward to discussing their requirements and seeing if I could cover the subject-matter. It was an event I was unfamiliar with and I like the idea of speaking to new audiences.
A couple of days later I received a phone call from one of the team and was told that “over 500 people had expressed interest in speaking” and that they could offer me a speaking slot as “part of an exhibition package“.
If the basis for their selection of speakers is who is willing to pay for the privilege, then I suspect the presentation will simply be one dull sales pitch after another. Which is sad given the importance of dialog around many of the challenges facing sustainability and efficiency practitioners.
I for one will definitely not be attending, and I thought it would be helpful to let colleagues know.
The notion of energy efficiency as an energy resource is now widely accepted. Indeed, since the widespread Demand Side Management programs of the 1970’s, these “Negawatts” (a term coined by Amory Lovins) have been quantified in financial terms and compared with supply-side infrastructure investments and shown in most cases to deliver the lowest cost per unit of energy (LCOE), as well a significant environmental benefits such as lower carbon emissions.
Thus it is with some alarm that I have read this morning that elements within the European Council are resisting formally prioritizing efficiency measures in the EU Energy Strategy. For those unfamiliar with how the EU works, here is a simplifcation
- The Council represents the nation states in the EU and it sets the overall policies and goals
- The Commission is the EU’s civil service and takes the Councils mandate to draft legislation
- The legislation is approved by the Parliament and the Council and becomes EU law
- Nation states then implement the laws and if they do not they can be challenged in the European Court of Justice
According to a report by EUObserver, some member states – through the Council – are resisting the notion that energy efficiency should be considered a priority. Their argument is that of “subsidiarity”, which is the principle that the EU should not bring in rules and regulations which should more properly be dealt with at a National level. On the one hand we have the Commission and Parliament both proposing that energy efficiency is a core priority – an “energy efficiency first” approach – and on the other hand we have some elements in the Council who want to let member states determine their own priorities (with the suggestion that this is intended to favor new generation from gas plants).
Subsidiarity is a valid concept. Given, however, that the CO2 and other pollutants produced from energy generation do not respect borders, it is questionable whether this principle should apply in this case. Friends of the Earth have suggested that the objection to prioritizing efficiency is coming from Bulgaria – which currently holds the rotating Chair of the Council and so has great influence in drawing up the response of the Council. This is very troubling as the environment minister of Bulgaria is reported to be a denier of climate-change.
It is essential that we do not give a veto to countries and politicians whose agenda is harmful to the interests of the people of Europe or, indeed, the people in their own nations. Let us hope that the other elements of the triumvirate (the Parliament and Commission) as well as those nations in the Council who recognize climate change to be the existential threat that it is – and understand that efficiency is the obvious first response – can prevail in this argument.
As with all such decisions the more visible and open they are the more we citizens and stakeholders can bring to bear our views. Please share this post to help spread the message.
Energy and Resource Efficiency without the tears has been reviewed by Cathy Rust on her great green buildings site BEC Green…. This site is a great resource for all things green buildings and sustainability-related.
What I like about Cathy’s posts is that they are so wide-ranging – recent articles have covered: a circular-economy incubator in Rotterdam (entitled “Blue Roof – A Roof Made From Sewage Products“); an update on Californian regulations requiring that out-of-state suppliers of specified building materials (carbon steel rebar, flat glass, mineral wool board insulation and structural steel) submit an Environmental Product Declaration confirming that the products meet the specified carbon emissions; a review of a no clog, low-flow toilet; through to her personal reflections on test-driving an electric car.
The site also has links to a wealth of other sustainability resources and sites, as well as other book reviews.
I must warmly congratulate Cathy on her terrific contribution to her fellow sustainability practitioners and would urge folks to sign up for her blogs which are thought-provoking, insightful and very useful.
The complexity of disentangling the UK from European institutions has been put in sharp relief by the intricate manoeuvring taking place around the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Politicians have been at pains to talk up the simplicity of any transition and the ease with which existing EU environmental legislation will be translated to the UK statutes through a “Great Repeal Bill”. In practice the process is proving to be much more complex. (more…)
Survey after survey** of energy management professionals show that a lack of resources is the most commonly cited cause for rejecting investments in energy and resource efficiency projects.
At the same time, the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2012 reported that for their “Efficient World Scenario” that “Additional investment of US$11.8 trillion in more efficient end-use technologies is needed, but is more than offset by a US$17.5 trillion reduction in fuel expenditures and US$5.9 trillion lower supply-side investment.”
Clearly, a key to success in achieving a more efficient world is down to our ability, as efficiency practitioners, to obtain funding.
The excuse given by decision-makers that “we don’t have the money” is rarely true. If we are honest with ourselves, this response is often due to our own inability as practitioners to create a sufficiently compelling business case – one that addresses the many non-financial barriers that exist. My 840-page book on energy and resource efficiency is largely dedicated to sharing my own experience of these barriers and how they may be overcome:
- By properly quantifying the value that efficiency generates (e.g. dealing with hidden and missing costs, and valuing co-benefits)
- By understanding structural barriers (such as split incentives, irreversibility and term issues)
- By addressing psychological barriers (sunk costs fallacies, loss aversion, certainty bias etc.)
But let’s, for a moment, assume that there really is an availability barrier – i.e. no money. What then? Well, my book also describes 12 methods, in addition to conventional outright purchase, which can fund efficiency projects. Click the link below for a poster setting out the financial flows, pros and cons of these methods.
For a practical, comprehensive exploration of these challenges, please do download the free PDF of the book available on my website, which also describes each funding technique shown in the poster in detail. The book is full of real-world case studies and useful techniques that can help efficiency practitioners in any organisation, small or large.
In time decision-makers will gain appreciation of the great skills and value that our profession brings to organisations and communities. Indeed it us – efficiency practitioners – who are the key to solving the major challenge of our age: “how to do more with less”. Please do share this link with others to spread the word and share the knowledge.
** see for example: Prindle, William, and Andre de Fontaine. A Survey of Corporate Energy Efficiency Strategies, ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Industry 5, 13 (2009) or Institute for Building Efficiency. 2013 Energy Efficiency Indicators (2013)
Several pieces of news have caught my attention in the last few days which have challenged my generally positive outlook on climate change issues. Despite this, I remain stubbornly optimistic about our ability to rise collectively to the challenges we face, as I will explain…. first though, the bad news…
Let’s start with the report from the BBC of a recent study by Eun-Soon Im, Jeremy S. Pal, and Elfatih A. B. Eltahir. This considered an aspect of global warming which, I must admit, has passed me by – that is the impact of temperature on human survival. Not, I hasten to add, the conventional “dry bulb” temperature measurement we are all familiar with from weather forecasts (and which are hitting all-time highs in Europe in the last few days, in excess of 43 °C in Cordoba, in the south of Spain, for example) but rather the more esoteric “wet bulb” temperature.
This measurement is the lowest temperature that can be achieved by evaporating water from a surface. In a low humidity environment, the wet bulb temperature can be considerably lower than the dry bulb temperature (as heat energy – aka latent heat – is needed to evaporate the liquid water, so lowering the temperature of the surface). As the moisture in the atmosphere rises, however, the potential for further evaporation decreases and so the wet bulb temperature approaches the dry bulb temperature until we reach 100% humidity, when both temperatures are the same. (more…)
I want to share an argument that I have used on many occasions when faced with audiences who are yet to be convinced about climate change. This is summarized by the diagram below.
This illustration reflects, in the columns, the positions that folks adopt about climate change. Some think that it is real, others not. Of course, we cannot change these columns, one will be prove to be right and the other will be wrong.
The rows, on the other hand, reflect the choices we make. We have two choices, A or B – either we take effective action on climate change, or not. That choice is under our control.
Clearly, we want to avoid the red box – where life as we know it comes to an end. Thus the only rational choice is “B”, to take action on climate change, despite some uncertainties about the consequences of inaction.
President Trump’s announcement of the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement made in the Rose Garden of the White House yesterday unambiguously represents Choice A.
The statement Trump made justifying this decision relies on two central arguments, which are understood by reference to the table above.
First is the argument that the Paris Accord is not Choice B (i.e. it will do little for climate change). To quote.
Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree — think of that; this much — Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100. Tiny, tiny amount.
Indeed, as the PolititFact site clearly elucidates, there is some truth in this statement. Scientists and climate change advocates have also been very clear that the commitments made in Paris were not enough. But they did see Paris as the framework through which countries could tighten their commitments over time. Indeed, Paris was a real milestone in that developing countries, too, agreed to targets for the first time. So saying that the first step is not enough is not an argument for stepping backwards.
The reader will note that there is no downside portrayed in the bottom left box, where dangerous climate change is not real, but we have nevertheless substantially transformed our organizations to reduce emissions and adapt to rising temperatures. While individual businesses, such as the coal industry, may well see a substantial reduction in their value unless they change the core business model, the majority of organizations will gain from resource efficiency to address climate change. That is because using less energy and creating less waste reduces costs. Delivering more efficient products will provide a competitive advantage. The new technology gold rush to mitigate carbon emissions will create countless business opportunities and thousands of jobs. Anticipating rather than reacting to regulation will create greater degrees of freedom for business operations extending, rather than diminishing, their licence to operate and innovate.
The second, essential, strand in the narrative of denial is to dismiss the notion that the lower-left box will lead to a better world even if climate change does not exist. Unless the fact that action is detrimental can be established, the precautionary principle would suggest that Choice B should be taken even if the probability that climate change is real (since the consequence of climate change is so catastrophic). To quote again.
The Paris Agreement would result in “lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories and vastly diminished economic production.
I have had some kind feedback about my decision to give away a free PDF of my two-volume book on energy and resource efficiency, which sells for £59.99 (US$79.99) in print. Several people have commented on just how much work must have gone into the book and how useful it is for anyone in the energy and resource efficiency field. It is true that I have invested a lot into this book – over six years of weekends, evenings and holiday time writing the book between my “day job” as a consultant and Sustainability Director. And there are the direct costs in editing, images etc – which are not inconsiderable.
In some cases colleagues have asked me outright why on earth I am giving away such a valuable resource. There is puzzlement because folks who know me, know that I have quite a good “business head”. So I feel that I owe people an explanation.
The reason I am giving away my book is that I passionately believe that my profession – energy and resource efficiency practitioners – are central to solving one of humanity’s biggest challenges – how to do more with less. Over the years, I have observed that fellow practitioners often have great resources and knowledge about the technical or engineering aspects of their craft – but that there is virtually nothing that explains, with honesty, how to deal with the strategic, organisational, managerial, behavioral, financial and communications aspects. In fact, the plethora of self-congratulatory case studies from organisations would lead one to conclude that this efficiency stuff is easy.
I am giving away my book because I want to help my colleagues, because I am concerned about climate change and biodiversity, because the better we are at what we do, the better world we will leave for the next generation.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers in the book, but I do believe that there is much to support colleagues, and to train and enthuse the next generation of practitioners. I have been very lucky – I have worked for some outstanding clients in some remarkable programmes all over the world, alongside some truly amazing colleagues. Its time to give something back!
So how can you help? First of all please do share the PDF and the link to this blog (bit.ly/2qtzKPP) – the more folks that make use of the book the better. Second, if you have suggestions for improvements, additions or if you spot errors please do let me know – I am totally committed to getting the contents right.
Finally if you are old-fashioned, like me, and you absolutely must have a printed copy of the book, please order it through my store rather than elsewhere – I have deliberately priced the printed book at the lowest level possible, which means that when the retailer takes their minimum required 40% commission on the sale price, there is virtually nothing left. That is deliberate – this book is not a money-making project! However, by ordering the book through my store, that 40% contributes towards recovering some of the publication costs and towards future revisions and (possible) future books. There is a free shipping option to most countries and ordering through my site is the most sustainable way of shipping as each book is individually printed on demand and sent directly from the printer to you (there are no additional journeys to warehouses etc).
Above all please do use the book! You can get the free PDF here – simply select the free PDF on the left, add it to your cart, and checkout as normal.
Hopefully, there is something there to help us all do more with less.
All the best,
As part of SustainSuccess’ contribution to sustainability the book, all 840 pages, is being made available FREE, in the Adobe PDF format.
I have been humbled by the outstanding reviews that leading folks in the efficiency world have give to the book:
- “…the definitive source or making sense of energy efficiency and all of its attendant benefits.” [Christopher Russell – Visiting Fellow, Industrial Programs, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, author of “Managing Energy from the Top Down“];
- “For anyone interested in a practical guide to improving resource and energy efficiency, this is the one and only book you need to own” [Dr Steve Fawkes – Managing Partner, EnergyPro, author of “Energy Efficiency“];
- “A very practical book which covers all the bases for practitioners and students of energy and resource efficiency alike.” [Tim Sullivan – Director Energy & Property Compliance, Rolls-Royce.];
- “An authoritative and comprehensive book that will help any organisation justify and implement an effective energy and resource efficiency programme” [Ray Gluckman – former President of the Institute of Refrigeration]
- “Niall Enright has produced a remarkably comprehensive manual for energy efficiency, which combines high-level insights and practical tips for developing and implementing projects and programs” [Donald Gilligan – President NAESCO]
You can get the free PDF easily. Simply go to the store, add the book to your basket and check-out. You will not be charged for the book, and on completing the check-out process, will received a download link to the PDF (17 MB).
The combined print version retails for £59.99 in paperback and £79.99 in hardback – including free postage options to most markets. The print versions also include free access to the companion files, for which there is a very modest charge for PDF version readers.
Please do feel free to:
- Share the link to this post on your own social media pages. The shortened link is: http://bit.ly/2rqzfL7
- Share the PDF with others (although it is better that folks download the file from the shop as they can be informed about updates to the text or additional materials)
Please don’t hesitate to give me feedback on the book. The beauty of print on demand (and PDF) is not only that this is a resource-efficient method of publication but also that the content can easily be updated regularly. You can also award the book between 1 star and 5 stars in the store, so please do come back and give it a rating!
All the best,