Method cleaning products

Method cleaning products use plant-based and a few mineral-based chemicals in their formulation. Some of the mineral-based or synthetic chemicals used in the formulation of these products are used mainly as a pH adjuster or fragrance.

Method cleaning products are made with plant-based or biodegradable ingredients and packaged on recycled bottles ensuring sustainable design. Natural ingredients for these products are derived from plants such as corn and coconut or natural citric acids. According to Method, the formulations of their cleaning products utilize advanced green chemistry technologies to create strong and safe formulations that are good for their consumers and the environment.

Also, the formulation for different method cleaning products follows the precautionary principle i.e. if there’s a chance an ingredient isn’t safe, they don’t use it in the formulation. In addition, Method all-purpose cleaners undergo a 3rd party assessment where all method ingredients are rigorously evaluated by an independent material agency for health and environmental safety. Learn more here about Method cleaning products.

Three simple sustainable options for small businesses

sustainable optionsIt is always advisable to conduct a comprehensive audit to understand what sustainable options that would have high impact for your triple-bottom-line, however sometimes you just want to get started to enjoy the benefits of implementing sustainable options. To start with, you can consider doing projects that have a high probability of success or focus your efforts on projects that make good business sense i.e. good for the sustainability and profits of the company. This blog attempts to capture a few low hanging fruit sustainable options, especially for small & medium-size businesses that may be interested in implementing low-cost sustainable options to save money or time and material resources such as energy:

  1. Plan an energy efficiency project. Small businesses may not have the finances to conduct a comprehensive energy audit that requires capital intensive modifications but could start with a walk-through audit to visually inspect each of the energy-using systems. Ideally, a walk-through energy-audit will perform a preliminary analysis of energy use or consumption to obtain the energy trends and patterns while benchmarking with other similar facilities. Small businesses can also consider performing a benchmarking audit which is faster because of the use of online tools such as the EPA ENERGY STAR portfolio manager. This online tool which is created by the EPA is a great tool that can be used to measure and track energy and water consumption, as well as greenhouse gas emissions. This tool is free to use and it is recommended for users to benchmark the performance of one building or a whole portfolio of buildings in a secure onlineenvironment. It is easy to use and it can be used to manage the energy use of any building.
  2. Implement solar photovoltaics (PV) project: Most solar projects especially commercial solar projects can be capital intensive, but in most cases, companies don’t have to own the PV system using flexible financing mechanisms such as the power purchase agreement (PPAs) and leasing financing models that allow companies to buy solar power at slightly lower rates compared to utility rates. EnergySage which is an online solar marketplace is a great starting point that online users can be used to estimate their solar potential, savings and get financing for their solar energy projects. At EnergySageyou will also have access to multiple solar quotes from your local solar installers.
  3. Consider using recycled paper for your office:Buying recycled paper may not have a direct impact on your bottom-line, but the indirect benefit this practice has on sustainability can be considered a high impact. Green America has made estimates for the sustainability impact of how recycled paper can have on environment and climate. According to Green America, recycled paper use saves resources and reduces the paper industry’s impact on the planet. For instance, using 100 % recycled copy paper instead of 100% virgin fiber paper saves: 100% of the trees, 31% of the energy, 53% of the water, and produces 39% less solid waste. In case, you consider, recycled paper, Amazon sells several brands of recycled paper. For instance, this example of 100% post-consumer recycled printer and copier paper for everyday use is made in the USA from recycled food and beverage containers and other paper-based printed materials.

These are just a few examples of low hanging fruit sustainable options that can be implemented by small or medium-sized businesses. Learn more about greening your business here for more details. To learn more for instance about energy audits and the concept of sustainable business or sustainability, check out the following books on Amazon.

  • Handbook of Energy Audits 9th Editionto learn more about energy auditing in buildings and industry. Topics include energy assessment and computer software, etc.
  • A circular economy handbook to learn more how engaged businesses are now increasingly re-thinking product design, material choices, business models and supply chains, and adopting the principles of the circular economy.

Earth Day 2020 is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.

Earth Day 2020Earth Day 2020 is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day although unfortunately, the world is facing global sustainability issues such as COVID 19, climate change, and other issues.
Achieving sustainability is a work in progress and calls for a constant evolution of technologies, ideas, and concepts to develop solutions that are practical and effective. Sustainability solutions will be resilient and focused on overcoming technical and policy barriers that prevent the uptake of sustainability in different sectors of society.

As of today, the world is experiencing some of the pressing global challenges that we probably have not experienced in our lifetimes. Clearly, technology will not or does not provide all the answers that we need today, however, it will help to speed up or assist in moving us towards a sustainable path. Technological solutions are just one part of the big picture as other solutions include policy, regulations, sustainable business as well as innovative financing options that are effective to promote sustainability from a systems’ perspective.

Technology can be broadly defined as the entities, both material and conceptual created by the application of mental and physical effort to achieve some value. Technological change, on the other hand, can refer to several yet compatible concepts involving an improvement in technology or technological progress. According to Rogers (2003), the idea of technological change underpins a social process involving adopters and others who are profoundly affected by its cultural setting, political institutions, and marketing strategies.

Sustainability calls for new concepts and ideas to reverse, for instance, the effects of climate change. Solar photovoltaics (PV) is just one of many of the new technologies to help in sustainability efforts. IRENA notes that renewables such as solar PV and energy efficiency offer a safe, reliable, and affordable way to achieve massive decarbonization in line with keeping the rise in global temperatures “well below 2°C”. IRENA’s analysis shows the combination of renewables, energy efficiency and increased electrification could achieve 90% of the reductions needed in energy-related emissions.

wind power
Renewables are also becoming cost-effective and with time we have seen for example solar power at grid parity. Grid parity is the point when the cost of alternative energy becomes equal to or less than electricity from conventional energy forms like fossil fuels. As such, renewable energy subsidies are now been phased out, and, in the USA for instance, the investment tax credit (ITC) to support consumers in switching to solar was reduced at the beginning of this year from 30% to 26%.

Now, the solar investment tax credit is available to homeowners in some form through 2021. In 2020 & 2021 owners of new residential and commercial solar can deduct 26% or 22% of the cost of the system from their taxes respectively. The ITC will then be reduced to 10% available for only owners of new commercial solar energy systems while there will be no federal credit for residential solar energy systems’.

Furthermore, IRENA’s analysis of renewable energy shows that the cost of electricity from renewable energy technologies has fallen steadily and even dramatically in recent years, and since 2000, especially for solar and wind generation and are now seen as viable commercial options. Also, power generation from renewable sources and technologies has become competitive with fossil-based or nuclear power.

biogas technology

Food waste is another issue that has become a huge sustainability issue over the last decade. In particular, food waste is a major source of methane (CH4) which is one of the most potent gases that is causing climate change. If food waste were a country, it would come in third after the United States and China in terms of impact on global warming. Hence, reducing food waste around the world would help curb emissions of planet-warming gases, lessening some of the impacts of climate change such as more extreme weather and rising seas.

With these sustainability challenges, it is clear that Earth Day 2020 presents us with an opportunity to contribute to efforts of fighting sustainability issues facing planet Earth and there so many solutions as we have captured above. Here at reneenergy.com, we want to thank you for your continued support and for subscribing to our blog posts. Thank you again. Please subscribe below if you haven’t to keep you posted about our blog posts.



How and where to dispose of batteries in a sustainable way?

where to dispose batteriesThe battery technology just like solar PV technology continues to advance and today there are various types of batteries being used to help power equipment or store energy for electricity. As the solar PV sector continues to grow whether with on-grid or off-grid solar applications; the battery technology will help to accelerate the increased adoption of solar PV in domestic, commercial and utility sectors and other renewable energy technologies that are intermittent in nature like the wind energy.
Similarly, with the rapid development of electric cars in various countries, it means that we will see the demand for battery technology continue to grow exponentially. Solar PV and electric vehicles(EV) will definitely demand increased usage of the battery technology among other sectors that require batteries such as agricultural, commercial or even the household sector where batteries are used for TV remotes, flashlights, children’s toys and small electronics like cellphones.

However, even with these technological developments; how and where to dispose of batteries after their useful life is completed is one aspect of sustainability that will need to be tackled from a system thinking perspective. At the development stage of these batteries, it calls for implementing sustainable design to make it easy to recycle most of the components of the battery technology in question. For instance, researchers at the IBM research unveiled recently a new battery technology that will eliminate the need for heavy metals in battery production hence improving sustainable design.

As such, before looking into proper ways of disposing batteries, it is good to know what batteries are, the different types of batteries, and what they are made up of, making them something that requires proper disposal. Well, batteries are a collection of one or a group of cells that undergo various chemical reactions to create a continuous flow of electrons in a circuit.

Battery cells are generally classified into three components that is the anode, also known as the negative electrode, cathode, also known as the positive electrode, and finally, the electrolytes. For sustainability, the battery chemical composition will matter as it will guide how a battery will be disposed of after its useful life. For instance, in the USA, when it comes to lead-acid batteries, 99% of these batteries are collected and recycled.

However, according to the World Economic Forum, recycling lithium-ion batteries is a bit challenging due to the diversity of cell types and the broad range of materials such as an alloy of cobalt, nickel, and copper that may require manual sorting and handling or even smelting (pyrometallurgy) to recover individual metals or battery raw materials such as cobalt carbonate.

Types of batteries

There are many types of batteries classified according to their chemical composition, formation factor, size, and the purpose they serve. They include:

  1. Primary batteries: These are a kind of batteries that cannot be recharged once fully used. These batteries are made up of electrochemical cells that their electrochemical reactions can also not be reversed. This kind of battery is usually used in devices that require no charging. Primary batteries are made up in a way that they provide high specific energy, and whenever used, the devices consume little power to ensure the battery has a long life span. The most common kind of primary batteries is alkaline batteries. They have higher specific energy levels, are environmentally friendly, and are cheaper to purchase.
  2. Secondary batteries are the direct opposite of primary batteries. Secondary batteries can be recharged, and their electrochemical cells and electrochemical reactions can be reversed when all the energy has been fully used up. The secondary batteries are commonly known as the rechargeable batteries. Secondary batteries can be classified into different groups depending on their chemistry or chemical composition.
    1. Lithium-ion: they are also known as Li-ion batteries. They are used in smart devices such as mobile phones and other battery home appliances. It has Lithium electrodes on it.
    2. Nickel Cadmium: Also known as Ni-Cd batteries. They are made up of nickel oxide hydroxide chemical and the metallic cadmium as the electrodes.
    3. Nickel-Metal hydride. This kind of batteries has the same chemical reaction to Ni-Cd batteries, which is nickel oxide hydroxide. Although, a negative electrode uses hydrogen-absorbing alloy, but not cadmium like the Ni-Cd batteries.solar battery
    4. Lead-acid batteries: Lead-acid batteries are cheaper efficient power batteries that are used in heavy-duty applications. They are usually used in instances where they are non-portable because of their weight. Lead-acid batteries are used in an application that includes vehicle batteries for ignition and lighting and also as solar-panel energy stores. Lead-acid batteries are made up of acid that is used to ensure proper current flow in the circuit. Lead-acid batteries are the oldest form of secondary batteries and are relatively cheap compared to the other secondary batteries.

where to dispose batteries

Where to dispose of batteries

Batteries are disposed of depending on the type which determines their chemical composition.

a) Household batteries: Household batteries can be classified into two groups, either rechargeable or non-rechargeable batteries. Disposing of the household batteries is not as complicated as disposing of the vehicle and industrial batteries.

According to battery solutions, alkaline batteries (AAA, AA, C, D, 9V, etc.) can be recycled using a specialized “room temperature,” mechanical separation process to recycle alkaline batteries.

The alkaline battery components are separated into three end products, that is, a zinc and manganese concentrate, steel, and paper, plastic and brass fractions. All of these products are put back into the market place for reuse in new products to offset the cost of the recycling process.

However, when it comes to rechargeable batteries, for example, lithium batteries are recyclable. They can, therefore, be disposed of at the battery recycling centers, electronic retailers who recycle batteries, or a waste collection site for hazardous materials. Therefore, ensuring you dispose of batteries properly.

b) Industrial batteries.

Industrial batteries can also be referred to as forklift or traction batteries. Industrial batteries can normally be drained to about 20% of the maximum charging capacity before a recharge.

Industrial batteries are manufactured with lead plates making them not disposable in the trash. Lead is considered to be a hazardous waste that is highly toxic to the environment. So when it comes to the industrial batteries, an estimated 60 to 80 percent of the used battery is normally reclaimed. More than 95 percent of the industrial lead-acid batteries are recycled.

The outer plastic shell is recycled to make some new plastic items, whereas the metal plates undergo purification to manufacture new batteries. In most states, there is a law that accepts the return of the industrial batteries to the retailer for disposal purposes. In case one cannot trace the retailer, they can contact the government officials for the information on the directions to follow to ensure proper disposal of the industrial batteries, industrial batteries maybe containing sulphuric acid that is harmful.

Safety precaution is normally advised when transporting the batteries for disposal. One should also avoid exposing the batteries to open flames or incidental devices like the cigarette lighters just for precaution measures.

c) Vehicle batteries: Car batteries are made out of lead-acid which is hazardous. It is, therefore, essential to dispose of it carefully just to avoid harmful side effects that can be life-threatening to human beings. There are many ways to dispose of vehicle batteries.
where to dispose batteries

  • Returning the battery to a retailer. When purchasing the battery, there is normally a core charge fee certain retailers usually add in the receipts. This charge means that the battery is essential to the retailer. It can either be recycled or be rebuilt. Meaning that you can return the battery to the retailers, and they refund back your money with the same amount you paid as a core charge fee.
  • Taking the car battery to a recycling depot: You can check on the closest designated recycling depots near you on the internet and dispose of your car battery there for disposals.
  • Taking the car battery to an auto parts store: You can make your take battery to an auto parts store as you go buy another one.
  • Selling the car battery to scrap metal depot: One can decide to sell their batteries off to the scrap metal depot near them at a fee.
  • Taking the car batteries to battery recycling centers where they can recycle them and make something good out of them.

Each state has its own recycling program while resources such as Earth911 have a comprehensive online platform for helping online users decide on how to dispose of old batteries. Earth911 provides a recycling locator for all types of batteries where you just enter your zip code and it pulls the details for your specific battery and how or where to recycle them.

Call2Recycle is another online resource that offers a network of over 34,000 local recycling centers and drop-off locations for rechargeable batteries such as local municipalities and local retailers like Best Buy.

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Sustainability, Systems Thinking, Going Green & Going solar

switchtosolar llc

What are we about?
Switchingtosolarpv.com is your platform to help you figure out your best going solar options and other clean energy options available to you.

We are about helping you to find tools and information mainly about sustainability options, systems thinking, going green and going solar through our blog posts and data science analysis.

Solar Energy Options & Sustainability
We provide tools and information to help you decide about renewable energy options, including but not limited to:

Solar Panel Calculator

If you live in the United States, you can use a solar panel calculator today to determine if solar energy is good for your home or business through this Solar Calculator.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or clarifications that you may have.

Thank you and best regards,

SwitchtoSolar Online MKT, LLC

Grid stabilization with increased renewable energy.

AI and solar PVWith the growing environmental concerns about climate change and the need for decarbonization, many private sector organizations, governments, and civil society have committed to a 100% renewable energy future.

As of late 2016, more than 300 cities, municipalities, and regions including Frankfurt, Vancouver, Sydney, San Francisco, Copenhagen, Oslo, Scotland, Kasese in Uganda, Indonesia’s Sumba island and the Spanish Island of El Hierro have demonstrated that transitioning to 100% RE is a viable political decision.

It is no doubt such ambitious targets to transition to 100% renewables will require new tools, concepts, and technologies to cope with the increased penetration of intermittent renewable energy into the grid. The good news is that technological developments, in the artificial intelligence and analytics space have already created tools and solutions needed to enable the decarbonization of the economy according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

As such, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has developed solutions in its recent report on the “Innovation Landscape for a Renewable Powered Future” which provides a toolbox of solutions for policymakers and guidance on how to apply them system-wide in a coherent and mutually-reinforcing way.

In particular, these solutions center around the application of digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), big data and analytics in increasing flexibility in the system for larger integration of renewable energy.

According to IRENA, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data, the Internet of Things and batteries are innovative solutions that will enable massive solar and wind use and amplify the transformation of the power sector based on renewables.

Why AI, Big-Data, and Analytics?

The increasing electrical loads such as electric cars, energy storage (batteries or pumped hydro) as well as decentralized renewable energy power such as rooftop solar PV systems, commercial solar, and wind power systems will need a more stable grid or a smart grid.

A smart grid is able to learn and adapt based on the load and amount of variable renewable energy put into the grid as a result of having lots of rooftops solar PV, other extra loads to the grid such as electric cars, energy storage (batteries and pumped hydro) and increasing decentralized intermittent renewable energy.

AI and Internet of Things

Without a smart system using artificial intelligence (AI), big data and analytics, grid operators will definitely not cope with the changing electrical loads and the increasing penetration of renewable energy into the grid.

Also, at its core, AI is a series of systems that act intelligently, using complex algorithms to recognize patterns, draw inferences and support decision-making processes through their own cognitive judgment, the way people do.

How can AI support the large integration of renewable energy?

Since renewable energy is very intermittent in nature as we would expect because there is no constant wind or solar generation due to weather changes, renewables such as solar and wind can be unreliable and many utility companies utilize energy storage (batteries or pumped hydro) to deal with this issue.

Excess solar or wind power is stored during low demand times and used when energy demand goes high. As a result, AI can improve the reliability of solar and wind power by analyzing enormous amounts of meteorological data and using this information to make predictions and knowing when to gather, store and distribute wind or solar power.

smart grid AIOn the other hand, AI used in smart grids can be used to balance the grid especially when rooftop solar and other decentralized renewable energy are involved and put into the grid. AI systems utilizing neural networks or complex algorithms to recognize patterns associated with various loads (electric vehicles or energy storage) and increased rooftop solar or other forms of distributed energy (wind or solar) which can make the system to be unstable. The most efficient way to balance this variability in the system is through AI in analyzing grids before and after they absorb smaller units, and in working to reduce congestion.

The IRENA’s report Innovation Landscape for a Renewable Powered Future explains these new AI tools and digital technologies that will support the deployment of renewables as the power sector complexity continues to increase.

According to IRENA, most of the advances currently supported by AI have been in advanced weather and renewable power generation forecasting and in predictive maintenance. However, in the future, AI and big data will further enhance decision-making, planning and supply chain optimization while increasing the overall energy efficiency of the energy systems.

For the renewable energy sector, AI and analytics can support it in several ways such as better monitoring, operation, and maintenance of renewable energy.

IBM research unveils a new battery free of heavy metals

electric vehicle batteriesWith the increasing demand for solar powered buildings, solar powered vehicles (electric vehicles(EVs) ) and smart grid power solutions; it is certain that there will be high demand for batteries. Many batteries including nickel and cobalt batteries pose an environmental threat to our natural ecosystem because of heavy metals.

From a system thinking perspective or a life-cycle basis – EVs, as well as all other going solar concepts, need alternative battery or storage solutions to significantly increase their environmental performance compared to conventional diesel or gas-powered vehicles.

For instance, in this article concerning EV sustainability issues, we saw that EV batteries are predominantly Lithium-ion batteries (e.g., Nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC), lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC)) which use lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite. As such, even with sustainable recycle and re-use programs to tackle the threat to the environment with increased adoption of EVs in the future, the development of sustainable materials or building new EV batteries that are zero in heavy metals will help to tackle these concerns from a system perspective.

Technological breakthroughs at the IBM research could help to solve the battery sustainability challenge:  

Researchers at the IBM research just unveiled recently a new battery discovery than could revolutionize the entire battery industry and help to solve the EV and going solar sustainability challenges when it comes to the elimination of heavy metals.

According to IBM research, it discovered a new battery which will eliminate the need for heavy metals in battery production and transform the long-term sustainability of many elements for our energy infrastructure. IBM research has discovered chemistry for a new battery that does not use heavy metals or other substances with sourcing concerns because the materials for this new battery are able to be extracted from seawater. Consequently, this lays the foundation for less invasive sourcing techniques than current material mining methods as noted by IBM research.

The new battery technology is also very promising because of its performance potential as determined in its initial tests which proved the new battery has faster charging time, higher power and energy density, storage energy efficiency and low flammability compared with the capabilities of lithium-ion batteries.

In addition, the new battery design could outperform lithium-ion across several sustainable technologies because it uses cobalt and nickel-free cathode material, as well as a safe liquid electrolyte with a high flash point. As such, this new battery design and chemistry includes a unique combination of the cathode and electrolyte demonstrated an ability to suppress lithium metal dendrites during charging, thereby reducing flammability, which is widely considered a significant drawback for the use of lithium metal as an anode material.

Lithium-ion batteries seem to be current battery technology at the moment, however, if new the battery discovery by IBM research is proving to perform better technically and environmentally, this discovery holds significant potential for electric vehicle batteries.

According to IBM research, the new battery will have a huge potential because of its flammability, cost and charging time.  It can reach an 80% state of charge with its configuration for high power at less than five minutes as shown during its current tests. IBM research is also using AI and machine learning techniques to mine huge data points that have helped to speed up this research and with better accuracy testing and the set hypothesis.

Future of solar in a smart building.

smarthomeBecause of the volatility of global oil prices, the cost of energy will continue to increase proportionately and especially when our energy demand continues to depend on finite fossil fuels. Similarly, the cost of energy for an average building in the USA or globally will continue to increase proportionately when the main source is from fossil fuels because the price for energy continues to increase due to volatility of oil prices. Solar PV and increased connectivity is an option that seems very promising and could help to reduce or mitigate the issue of climate change and increasing energy prices.

The advent of AI in energy management

Artificial intelligence technologyThe advent of new technologies such as big data analytics, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics and blockchain allows for smart building energy management systems that can provide monitoring made possible through the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced data analytics and via wireless connections.

Looking in the future, solar is likely to be sold as a core part of the smart building concept that includes a building energy management system, energy storage, Electric Vehicle (EV) charging and smart appliances. This makes more sense because sourcing all the energy from solar will help to save more money and help to achieve sustainability. Also, EV and smart appliances can help to balance the grid for instance, electric vehicles can be used as temporary storage to connected appliances to reduce power usage when needed.

IoTAlso, in the energy management space, lighting and HVAC integration are the two most common systems integrated into the smart building strategy to reduce the energy footprint, but the IoT industry has opened the door to more sensors and hence increased intelligence through data collection. Some of the most common IoT sensors have applications for smart metering, occupancy sensors, water detection, humidity sensors, contact sensors, and carbon monoxide detection among many others.

Internet of Things

The whole idea of making your building smart is to allow you to make more informed decisions about the building based on the data it provides. Data is aggregated via IoT (Internet of Things) controls and sensors in a web-based platform that can be monitored, controlled and acted upon in real-time or perhaps using your cellphone. The main advantage of having a smart building is to help facility and property managers gain insight into the detailed workings of their locations and gather useful data to improve building performance and efficiency.

Advantages of integrating solar in a smart building:

  •  Smart buildings utilize machine learning algorithms and can be able to forecast your energy consumption and through demand response mechanisms solar consumption by the building can be increased in times of high solar generation and vice-versa. Through IoT smart appliances can be remotely controlled digitally to adopt on-site demand. For instance, heat pumps, heat storage batteries and air conditioning units can be optimized with solar generation and be a way of using excess solar electricity as heat.
  • Battery storage and smart electric vehicle charging when integrated with solar PV could significantly increase solar consumption for some households and businesses and especially when solar PV is combined with battery storage.
  • Deep machine learning and artificial intelligence when integrated with your smart appliances and solar can help to forecast and manage generation and consumption as well as voice activation technology to make systems more user-friendly.
  • Generally, smart buildings through optimization increase energy efficiency, comfort and safety and with solar PV, more energy is saved reducing your energy footprint.

This article explained how the smart building concept can help to reduce energy consumption and allow for the integration of solar PV, EV charging and IoT helping you reduce your energy footprint to achieve sustainability. However, a key question is whether these smart building technologies can currently pay for themselves? Do they currently increase or decrease the return on investment on installation when combined with solar?  EnergySage is a great starting point to help you figure out your energy savings when it comes to going solar.

Five ways to decrease energy costs

energy auditsCutting costs and saving money is essential to the health of any business. But too many small business owners focus on direct spending and not the indirect costs of intangibles such as energy costs. Every penny saved on conserving energy goes straight to the bottom line. Here are five strategies for cutting energy costs in your business.

Empower an Energy Manager

Put someone in charge of your energy savings and empower them to make decisions and cut costs. This person can be someone in accounting or a general office manager. It needs to be someone familiar enough with the day to day operations to understand where, when and how energy costs can be cut without impacting services. Give this person reasonable and attainable goals and hold them accountable for savings. You might even offer an incentive for meeting specific goals.

Get an Energy Audit

The new energy manager should first be required to perform an energy audit. They shouldn’t have to do this alone. Your power provider and other local groups can be called upon to help create energy audits, often at no or low cost. Identifying where energy can be saved is the first step to cutting power costs. Don’t forget to audit the energy consumption of all equipment as compared to newer energy-efficient models. Have the manager look at both short and long-term savings for purchasing new equipment and replacing old power hogs. Many replacements will pay for themselves in less time than you think.

Get Regular Maintenance of all HVAC Equipment

Keeping the equipment healthy that makes your environment comfortable is a significant step in energy savings. Replacing dirty filters and other minor changes can make huge boosts to your energy conservation. Take a look at your annual heating and cooling costs for general office systems. Now imagine cutting 30-40% of that cost annually. Also, have your HVAC maintenance company make recommendations on ideal settings for your thermostats and have all thermostats replaced with ones that can be set to timers or operated remotely.

Don’t Forget Your Computer Rooms

While saving on cooling costs, you can’t afford to risk your valuable data servers. But you don’t need to dump a fortune into keeping them cold either. First, have an expert make recommendations on optimal temperatures for your server rooms and computers. Next, find ways of maintaining these temperatures more efficiently. A low power electric fan can make a massive difference without impacting your cooling system budget. Install equipment and/or software that puts the computers in a low-energy standby mode when not in use.

Invest in Alternative Energy Sources

Depending on your location, alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power may be available. Solar energy can be installed for almost any business depending on the type of building and local zoning ordinances. Installation of solar panels is often tax-deductible, and even better, your solar farm may produce enough energy to sell some of it back to your power company.

Energy savings not only helps the environment but can drastically improve the bottom line of your company. Make decreasing energy costs a priority today and reap the benefits for years to come.

Sustainability concerns for electric vehicles (EVs)

electric vehicles

With the increasing demand for EVs every year, concerns about their environmental performance is a highly debated topic. As such, the following three (3) issues seem to be the leading ecological concerns for EVs and must be acknowledged and addressed as the EV technology continues to evolve while finding sustainability solutions to these challenges. Also, no technological change is without consequences, and in most cases, there are trade-offs to assess. These three (3) issues are:

1. The use of critical earth metals, i.e., Neodymium, dysprosium, and praseodymium that are scarce.

2. EV batteries if not recycled or re-used, pose a significant danger to the environment.

3. The climate impact of EVs, when powered by carbon-intensive electricity, does not provide the environmental benefit of fighting climate change.

1. Use of critical earth metals

Critical “elements” of the earth like Neodymium, dysprosium, and praseodymium are used in the manufacturing of magnets for electric vehicle motors and lithium-ion batteries.

However, these rare metals aren’t as rare as precious metals like gold, platinum, and palladium and the main driver at the moment for rapid use of these critical elements is the global demand for cellphones, laptop computers, and other electronic devices that use lithium-ion batteries. electric vehicles

With the current recycling rate of these metals being less than one (1) percent and material substitution possibilities limited as well, it calls for certification extraction programs to encourage stronger social and environmental standards.

2. EV batteries need a proper recycling program

EV batteries are predominantly Lithium-ion batteries (e.g., Nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC), lithium-nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC)) which use lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite.

With the increasing demand for EVs and most batteries lasting at least eight (8) years, it is critical to in the long-term to re-use, recycle and have a progressive program for substitution that will help to reduce the long-term environmental impact of EVs.

Sustainable recycle and re-use programs will help to tackle the danger to the environment with increased adoption of EVs in the future.

3. Life-cycle climate impact of EVs

From a life-cycle perspective, EVs if powered from electrical grids that are carbon-intensive (i.e., that source a considerable portion of their power generation from fossil fuels or coal), this does not significantly help to reduce well-to-wheel greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with EVs.

Well-to-wheel results account for all the energy and emissions necessary to produce the fuel used in the car (Well to Pump) and the operation energy and emissions associated with the vehicle technology (tail-pipe emissions, other emissions, and energy efficiency of the vehicle).

According to the EnergySage, taking well-to-wheel emissions into account, all-electric cars emit an average of around 4,450 pounds of CO2 equivalent each year. In comparison, conventional gasoline cars will emit over twice as much annually.

However, the amount of well-to-wheel emissions your EV is responsible for is mostly dependent on your geographic area and the energy sources most commonly used for electricity. As more renewable energy enters the grid, the climate impact of EV will further diminish. Countries with the highest grid carbon intensity will deliver less climate benefit compared to countries with a low grid carbon intensity that will have substantial climate benefits.

Solar PV a great solution to tackle the climate impacts of EVs

electric vehicle

Powering your EV with solar panels will help to off-set carbon emissions, especially when the grid power is carbon-intensive. Solar PV comes in handy for powering your vehicle in places where the grid is primarily powered with fossil fuels hence reducing the environmental impact of your EV. Learn more here about the Environment and EVs.