The 2020s are a time of transition for the global economy. In addition to a switch from manufacturing to services as the central component of business activity, the decade is ushering in an era of environmentally aware entrepreneurs, owners, founders, and consumers. Everybody, from the most powerful mogul down to the modest retail buyer in a discount store, realizes the importance of building a sustainable planet and economic system.
In the transport industry, telematics systems are helping fleet managers reach peak efficiency and meet strict emissions standards at the same time. Homeowners are finally reaping the benefits of solar energy after decades of slow growth in the alternative energy sector.
A long list of smart devices is bringing conservation to offices, houses, and apartments. Following the trend, automakers are rolling more all-electric and hybrid electric vehicles off the assembly line than ever before. Consider the following environmental trends among private citizens and business owners.
Transport Fleets Using Telematics
Transport companies are using sophisticated telematics systems to meet emissions obligations more effectively. Managers who operate government fleets in California must follow a precise set of guidelines related to smog checks. Compliance is required, but supervisors understand how telematics systems can minimize vehicle downtime while adhering to the smog check rules during routes.
Not only do telematics programs help government fleet management teams keep expenses low, but they’re also invaluable in transmitting a wide variety of information and statistics about every truck in real time. Without the technology, California’s emissions rules could deal a serious blow to government fleet profitability.
Solar Panels for Roofs and Yards
Homeowners have plenty of choices when it comes to solar energy resources. The industry has advanced significantly in the past decade as efficiency levels for panels has risen steadily. Along with more productive rooftop panels, one of the newer offerings from sellers is ground mounted solar. Some homeowners either can’t place units on their roofs or prefer to double up by putting them on the roof and in the yard.
Ground panels need to be mounted on special brackets so they can be easily moved whenever needed. However, the option to include more coverage in a given property can nearly double the amount of electricity available from private solar arrays.
With electric cars being the more sustainable choice in both the public and private sectors, there’s an ongoing transition to electric vehicles. For large corporations, the switch to all or partially electric fleets can save vast sums. The same is true for municipal, state, and federal government vehicle fleets. Individuals have had access to EVs (electric vehicles) and PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) for more than a decade.
But in the 2020s, consumers and companies are finally making a major transition to energy-efficient transportation. There’s national legislation that incentivizes automakers to offer more non-combustion cars, trucks, buses, vans, and motorcycles by 2030.
At the same time, consumers are buying e-bikes, driving less, opting for public transportation, and carpooling more than ever before. Companies that sell and rent e-scooters in major metropolitan areas have had to increase purchases from manufacturers just to keep enough inventory on hand for unexpected surges in consumer demand.
Are you looking to make your business more sustainable? This is something that every business owner should be looking to do even during the discovery phase of project and it can bring a multitude of benefits in addition to the ethical reasons, so here are 10 of the best ways that you can go about doing this.
1. Eco-Friendly Products
First, you need to make sure that you are both producing and sourcing eco-friendly products and trying to reduce plastic use as much as possible.
2. Green Energy
Switching to a green energy provider is one of the most effective ways that you can reduce your impact, plus you can make huge energy savings over the long-term on your energy bills, so it is a smart financial move to make.
3. Encourage Cycling
It is important to encourage staff to use green forms of transport as opposed to driving. One way to do this is with bike parking outside of the office and to start a cycle to work scheme.
4. Reduce Food Waste
You should try to reduce food waste as much as possible and the best way to do this is to educate your staff on the importance of only bringing in what they need and using up spare food.
5. Watch Water Usage
Water usage is another area to address and you will want to try to cut down on if possible, particularly when it comes to washing and cleaning.
6. Increase Recycling
Recycling is one of the best ways to be more sustainable but often an area where businesses could improve on. You can do this by educating staff on what they can and cannot recycle and making it easier for them to recycle items, such as placing recycling bins in the office.
Switching to energy-efficient equipment is smart as it will reduce your energy consumption, which will also help to reduce your utility bills too.
9. Green Shipping and Delivery
Opting for green shipping and delivery can greatly reduce your impact and costs, which can be achieved through green packing materials, minimizing packing materials, and using compact packaging. Also, using a routing app will make delivery more efficient and fast, encouraging the use of bicycles, and reducing air pollution from cars and motorcycles.
10. Charitable Contributions
Business can also be more environmentally sustainable through charitable contributions, such as starting a promotion, donating a percentage of profits to charity or starting a fundraiser.
Buying the Bitcoin may not be a viable option for many investors. In such a situation, there are some alternatives to earning the Bitcoin besides buying it. And the good news is that for most of these alternative means, you actually have to do practically nothing to start earning the crypto coins. Below is a list of the simple ways one can earn the Bitcoin:
To begin with, you can start earning the Bitcoin when you have an account in a cryptocurrency exchange. The best crypto exchanges where you can buy BTC are KuCoin, Binance, and CoinMama etc. This is almost similar to people keeping their funds in bank accounts and getting interests on deposits. Here, you can simply lend out your Bitcoins in exchange for other crypto coins or get Bitcoins in exchange of traditional fiat currencies like the USD or GBP. When you can transfer Bitcoins to a financial service provider, it is possible to earn interest over time.
You can enjoy cashback in BTC when you shop for something online. For instance, eBay offers buyers a cash-back offer for purchasing from hundreds of sites; they have tie-ups with almost all big retailers. When you install the Chrome Extension and make an account, eBay notifies you when there are discounts on any retailer website. All you have to do is click on this to get your discounts and after each quarter eBay gives you a check. Another popular site offering similar advantages if Lolli which will give you cash back in Bitcoin when you buy from websites like Macy’s or Sephora.
You can accept payments in Bitcoin for services you render. There are many people who are now accepting Bitcoin as salaries for their work. For freelancers like musicians, artists, and writer, this can be a viable option. Examples are Bit wage, Angel’s List, Jobs4Bitcoin, Crypto Jobs, and Crypto Grind etc.
You could also earn Bitcoin through mining. You will need specialized computers capable of solving complex mathematical puzzles to earn rewards. For operating a mining rig on your own, you are going to need dedicated mining hardware, mining software, a wallet etc. Solo mining will not yield profits as desired, and joining a mining pool may give you higher payouts.
Earning Bitcoin is possible through trading and this is by far the simplest way to earn more Bitcoins. You will find multiple trading strategies to trade Bitcoins and traders typically have their own preferred methods for trading. One way is using automated bitcoin trading software applications. The most commonly used method is leverage trading where traders borrow money for bolstering trading, and these are called crypto loans. Copy trading strategies can help you to make a mark in the crypto market with relative ease.
You can also earn more Bitcoins with affiliate marketing; this is the most popular method for news websites, bloggers and social media influencers to make more money. For this companies will give you promotional codes and unique URLs that you must send out to your respective audiences. If anyone clicks on these links and thereafter makes a buy, you get a reward.
There is no question about it; fossil fuels are still prevalent today. However, when it comes to long-term power and energy solutions, there are other viable options. Although many countries, businesses, and households have adopted renewable forms of energy such as wave, wind, and solar, there is still ground that needs to be covered. Additionally, there are plenty of benefits to adopting solar power.
Doing Your Part for a Healthier Planet
Solar power, which we can harness thanks to the ingenious invention of the solar panel, is a renewable form of energy that never runs out (unless there are extended periods of cloud cover). If you are a homeowner or company and wish to do your part in being a part of the solution, consider installing solar panels.
One thing you are more than likely pondering, however, is the cost of implementing solar power in your home, business, or in aid of your community. And this is a definite factor when deciding how and where people acquire their electrical needs. However, over time, the panels pay for themselves, which ultimately leads to saving money.
In the end, the importance of using renewable energy cannot be stressed enough. People can quickly reduce their carbon footprint by opting for this form of power, which has a ripple effect. If more people choose to install solar panels to supply their electrical needs, the demand for the burning of fossil fuels will decrease drastically.
Solar Power and the Upliftment of Communities
Other benefits and subjects of importance for this energy source are that it can lead to community development and upliftment. Those living in urban areas with electrical infrastructure may take this for granted. Many communities do not possess the luxury of tapping into this, and this is one-way solar can be of immense help.
It leads to schools being able to offer access to electronic means of learning and access to resources, such as children being able to utilize the internet and engage with computer programs.
People in rural areas are allowed to do everyday tasks. These may include cooking, lighting their homes, washing and ironing clothing, watching television, communicating with people via the internet, and using appliances such as fridges to keep food fresh.
What is Reaped from Solar Power
This is but the tip of the iceberg. There are numerous reasons to consider solar power. Leading on from the previous points, you will play your part and may wear the badge of honor that you are socially and environmentally responsible.
After the initial payout, solar panels only rely on the sun to generate electricity. Your electricity bill will lower or potentially even allow you to go entirely off-grid, leading to years of future savings. The best solar panels last an incredibly long time, some even up to 25 years. The batteries where the power is stored may need replacing more frequently, but they also have good lifespans.
The price of installing solar is on a general downward trend, which is more than likely due to an increase in demand, allowing suppliers to sell them at a cheaper cost. When it comes to producing solar panels, you will be glad to hear that the energy used to make them is far outweighed by their eventual output.
Consider Joining the Solar Revolution
Humanity has long had to be coerced into doing things that are good for our planet, our home.
Earth is still the only habitable planet we know of. It deserves care and a dedication to seeking viable options to ensure that future generations are left with a healthy and sustainable world. And to top it all off, solar power can supply communities with off-grid electricity where they would not have had it before.
Over the last decade, the renewable energy industry has witnessed tremendous global growth, and mechanical engineers have made a significant contribution in ensuring the transition to pure energy and other sustainable practices around the globe.
Over the last decade, the renewable energy industry has witnessed tremendous global growth, and mechanical engineers have made a significant contribution in ensuring the transition to pure energy and other sustainable practices around the globe.
The same can be said about the role of electrical engineers in this industry. Nowadays, humans can observe the movement of small businesses and startups toward carbon-free solutions, for instance, solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and hydroelectric power in action in all their projects.
Using full benefits of renewable energy sources demands advanced technology in manufacturing, preserving, and supplying electricity. That is what makes the technical expertise of electrical engineers an essential resource at small businesses or startups striving to integrate eco-friendly practices.
In case your business/startup is connected with designing renewable energy projects, the first thing you should do is to check some renewable energy market analysis so that you can develop your strategy. Then, it would be brilliant to find 3D modeling services to make your renewable energy project come true and hire relevant types of engineers who will work on your project.
Now, let’s take a glimpse at several ways how mechanical and electrical engineers can help you in that. We will start with mechanical engineers.
Mechanical Engineers in Renewable Energy Projects
Small business and startup owners should consider this type of engineer as a must for designing renewable energy solutions! Why?
A wide range of the essential skills that mechanical engineers experience in their graduate programs possess many useful practices for renewable energy engineering. Profound knowledge in fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and thermodynamics, for instance, is a clue to designing the wind power eco solution. The same expertise is also necessary when improving cooling systems, developing hydropower infrastructure, and creating new energy preservation technology, for example, solar fuel or thermochemical batteries for long-term energy storage.
Small business and startup owners should hire mechanical engineers because they practically can be involved in every step of renewable energy generation/distribution. From designing approaches that minimize the cost of silicon production for solar panels to developing optimized ways to build wind farms, this kind of engineer is significant to improving the renewable energy infrastructure. Below, you can see several essential duties of mechanical engineers in designing renewable energy solutions:
Rationalizing a certain renewable energy technology for it to get more financially beneficial to develop relevant infrastructure;
Explore various materials and their interrelation for further implementation in renewable energy leading to innovative systems/technologies design for producing and supplying eco power;
Provide small business and startup owners with consultations regarding renewable energy projects, including delivering the best ways to achieve sustainability goals: determining technology needs and methods to build and invest in renewable energy infrastructure;
Multiple integrations of all types of renewable energy technologies.
How Electrical Engineers Solve Renewable Energy Challenges?
When it comes to the contribution of electrical engineers to sustainability-based energy projects, it is the following.
The wind turbines and solar panels that produce pure energy are often located in areas far from municipalities. To experience all bonuses of environmentally friendly electricity, mankind requires the infrastructure to distribute such energy into homes.
Designing a renewable energy project and faced the above-mentioned challenge? Here, electrical engineers are your option!
As a rule, electrical engineers engaged in renewable energy transmission address the following issues:
Modernizing and expanding high-voltage distribution lines, selecting appropriate areas for construction to reduce environmental influence;
Identifying the finest strategies to transform renewable energy into electricity safely and effectively;
Precisely predicting the requirement for eco power and enabling facilities to possess the storage capacity to satisfy those requirements;
Securely managing the power flows from production facilities via the grid;
Designing innovative control platforms to check how the grid behaves and to react to troubles as they happen.
In case your startup is connected with microgrids, electrical engineers can come in handy. For those who are not on the topic, let’s clarify the thing.
Various platforms that involve microgrids make it possible to get more effective energy distribution than ordinary grids, resulting in eco power systems that are less wasteful as well as more financially beneficial.
Besides, some microgrids suggest an eco-friendly alternative by using a renewable energy source, for instance, wind power, biomass, or solar power. With permanent technological development, such microgrids can become central to implementing energy even greener!
It requires creative problem-solving as well as innovative technical knowledge to support in revolutionizing eco-energy production, distribution, and consumption. Electrical engineers understand the principles which are on the background of the latest achievements in the energy transformation, power platforms, and power grids. So, they can potentially design a win-win solution for your business in the renewable energy industry.
Cryptocurrencies may have become the buzzword today but they are still far being adopted by the mainstream. While most people may have heard of the Bitcoin, very few know how actually to earn and use it. The easiest way you can be involved in the cryptocurrency world is by researching on the crypto coins.
The best way to earn Bitcoins may be by buying them on a cryptocurrency exchange in exchange of fiat currencies or other crypto coins. The alternative is to earn Bitcoins through mining. In this, you will need specialized computers capable of solving complex cryptographic puzzles. On solving these, you can get rewards in the form of new Bitcoins. So, the question remains, is there any other way to get Bitcoins apart from investing and mining?
How you can earn Bitcoins without mining or investing?
Crowd holding is a platform aimed at creating a large community of Bitcoin holders through crowd sourcing. In this, startups provide tasks on this platform so that users can offer their feedback to earn tokens as rewards.
You can use your own business to earn Bitcoins by simply stating that you are prepared to accept Bitcoins as payment.
You may earn more Bitcoins by doing certain tasks allotted to you by specific websites. In most cases, you simply have to visit these sites and view their advertisements. This hardly takes up much time or effort, and the sites will pay you in Bitcoins in exchange.
If you own Bitcoins already you can earn more through interest payments. So, you basically lend the Bitcoins to others and you charge an interest on such loans. You may either lend Bitcoins to someone you know directly, or go through any of the trusted P2P platforms.
You can even get tipped in Bitcoins, strange as it may sound. You can start a blog for instance and get rewarded in Bitcoins.
Trading your Bitcoins is definitely one of the best ways to invest and earn more Bitcoins. You can create an account using a reliable CFD provider and then deposit a small amount to begin trading. You can also use automated bitcoin trading applications like bitcoin era to improve the quality of trading.
You could also start working for companies that are willing to pay their workers in Bitcoins. So, you could get a job as a freelancer, like a writer or an artist, and start earning Bitcoins as payment for services rendered.
Bounty campaigns are incentive-driven rewards that are provided by startups to people. So, when a startup launches a new service or product, it may offer rewards to individuals willing to do certain tasks for them. The participants will get paid in crypto coins for their services. Whether it is writing in social media website, sharing links, or conducting signature campaigns, they will get paid by the businesses. Users can therefore do micro tasking and earn Bitcoins.
Finally, you can start blogging to earn more Bitcoins. Bloggers aim at making money by creating an audience for their write-ups and businesses are keen to market their products to that audience. They will use ads and referral links to reach out to this target audience; there are blogging platforms these days that pay you in crypto for creating content.
Waste management is an important tool for curbing climate change and for keeping our environment clean and healthy. Methane generated from biodegradable wastes is a powerful greenhouse gas, and when it’s not captured and used as a fuel it contributes to rapid warming of the atmosphere. Estimates suggest that biodegradable waste in dump sites and uncapped landfill sites are contributing far more methane to the atmosphere than previously thought. What’s more, urban food waste is predicted to increase by 44% from 2005 to 2025, and with no proper management in place, will significantly add to global greenhouse gas emissions.
Worryingly, 38 of the world’s 50 largest dumps are close to the sea, contributing to marine and coastal pollution. The accumulation of plastics in the marine food chain is causing global concern. While we don’t yet know how to clean the oceans, stemming the flow of waste into marine environments would be a step in the right direction.
40% of the world’s waste ends up in open dumps. These aren’t even what you’d call “landfill”. They don’t have any impervious lining to prevent noxious leachate from entering the surrounding environment, nor are they capped to prevent the spread of disease. In fact, in India, the Philippines and Indonesia, the health risk from open dumping of waste is greater than the risk of malaria[i].
3.5 billion people in the world lack access to proper waste management. That figure is expected to grow to 5 billion by 2050. Respiratory diseases, gastrointestinal diseases and occupational health risks add to the misery experienced by the 50,000+ people living from open dumps.
Waste is any material that is no longer wanted for its original purpose. The owner doesn’t have a need for it, and so discards it. Even valuable items can and do end up as waste purely because someone has thrown them away. The recent (and rather brilliant) BBC programme Hugh’s War on Waste shone the spotlight on attitudes towards disposable fashion. A look through the bins of a typical street uncovered a startling amount of clothing that had been thrown away, despite it still being in perfectly good condition. This highlights a simple fact: there is plenty of value in waste.
Estimates suggest there are 40 million people globally who are making their living from waste – half of these are working informally.
During the last recession in the UK, the waste management sector was one of the only industries to keep growing, resulting in it being termed the “Green Star of the Economy”.
Showing people how to turn a waste stream into something valuable isn’t rocket science. There are lots of examples of informal, community-based, grassroots recycling and upcycling projects that generate wealth for the poorest in society.
Internet is allowing simple waste processing techniques to be replicated all over the world, and helping make that information accessible is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my career.
“Give a man a fish and he can eat for a day. Show a man how to fish and he can eat for the rest of his life.” Teaching people how to make valuable products from waste is important. But just as important, is passing on the business skills to be able to identify a market, factor in costs, check out the competition, market their products and run a successful business.
Development work in the waste arena needs to address both sides of the coin, and in doing so will enable people to start up their own businesses, in their own communities, and generate wealth organically. That’s far more valuable than delivering aid in a ready-made package (which incidentally rarely works – there’s a great TED Talk on this topic by Ernesto Sirolli, called “Want to help someone? Shut up and listen”).
Why closing dumps isn’t a silver bullet
The proliferation of megacities, particularly in developing countries, is causing a health crisis. Decent waste management is an indicator of good governance – that is, if a council or government can collect taxes and provide a waste management service, then it most likely isn’t (very) corrupt. However, in many places where corruption or other forms of bad or weak governance prevail, top-down solutions are notoriously difficult to implement.
Often, when the world’s attention turns to an open dump, the government responds by closing it and the journalists go home. This is what happened with Smokey Mountain dumpsite in the Philippines (and many others around the world). All that happens is another open dump emerges nearby, and the scavengers move to the new site.
The problem is that if there is no alternative solution in place, people will discard of their waste in the only ways available – dumping it or burning it; and the poor will follow the waste.
Replacing an open dump with a government-controlled waste management system isn’t a silver bullet either. The losers, again, are the hundreds, and sometimes thousands of men, women and children who live from scavenging from the dump. It may seem horrific to many of us, but the truth is that if you take that opportunity to earn a paltry living away from the poorest in society, they will starve. Solutions need to be inclusive.
Power to the people
To close dump sites, you need to have a workable alternative solution in place. You need to have regular waste collection taking place, and you need somewhere to take it. Building materials recovery facilities alongside existing open dumps is one idea. Informal waste pickers who are currently working in dangerous conditions on the dumpsite can gain employment (or better still, form a cooperative) sorting recyclable materials and reducing the amount of real “waste” that needs to be disposed of.
For example, Wecyclers in Lagos, Nigeria employs people to cycle around collecting recyclable materials from households. In return for their source-separated waste, the householder receives a small reward.
In Bangalore, IGotGarbage has harnessed the power of phone apps to enable people who were previously waste pickers to be called directly to a house to collect the waste materials. Solutions like this work because they continue to provide livelihoods for people, while taking waste off the streets.
The need for appropriate technology
There will always be something left though: the stuff that really has little value other than the energy embodied in it. In industrialized countries, energy-from-waste incinerators have become popular. Seen as a clean alternative to landfill, these facilities burn the waste, release the energy, and convert it into heat, electricity and ash. Some of that ash (from the air pollution control system) still needs to be disposed of in specially-prepared hazardous waste landfill sites. The remainder, being fairly benign, can be used to make concrete building blocks.
However, incinerators are fairly technology-heavy, rendering them unsuitable for many developing country contexts.
A problem that we’ve witnessed is that waste management companies from industrialised nations try to wholesale their technology in developing countries. The technology is usually unaffordable, and even if the capital can be raised to procure a facility, as soon as something breaks down the whole solution can fall apart.
There is a need for information about simple waste processing technologies to become more open-sourced. Smart future-thinking businesses could capitalise on selling blueprints rather than entire prefabricated facilities. Most of the time it’s far cheaper to fabricate something locally, and also means that when something breaks it can be fixed.
The continuing need for landfill
The fact is that in most cases, a standard, lined landfill site with landfill gas capture is still the most appropriate answer for non-recyclable waste. Add to that a well-organised, low-cost waste collection service with source separation of recyclable materials and biodegradable waste, and you have a relatively affordable solution that is better for the climate, better for health, better for the local economy, and contributes to a more sustainable future.
Landfill may seem very unfashionable to those of us who work in the recycling sector, but nevertheless it will remain a necessity both in developed and developing countries for the foreseeable future.
Joining forces and stepping stones
The success of the Sustainable Development Goals and potential Climate Change Agreement depend on developed and developing countries working together. Miguel Arias Cañete, the EU climate commissioner, said the Climate Coalition alliance showed that developed and developing countries could work together with a common interest. “These negotiations are not about them and us. They are about all of us, developed and developing countries, finding common ground and solutions together. We urge other countries to join us. Together we can do it.”
Necessity is the mother of invention, and we are facing a waste crisis of unprecedented proportion. The potential for waste management in reducing GHG emissions has never been more pertinent. Waste and development practitioners, academics, technology companies, and entrepreneurs around the world are working together more and more to help bring about the change we want to see, which will benefit the billions of people suffering from poor waste management, and the rest of us who share a warming planet – and share the burden of climate change and poverty.
By sharing knowledge through platforms such as beWasteWise and ISWA, and through initiatives like WasteAid, WASTE and Wiego, we can start making a dent in this very large problem.
No silver bullets, but lots of small stepping stones in the right direction.
Note: The original and unabridged version of the article can be found at this link. Please visit http://zlcomms.co.uk/ for more information about the author.
With ‘green’ being the buzzword across all industries, greening of the business sector and development of green skills has assumed greater importance all over the world. SMEs, startups and ecopreneurs are playing a vital role in the transition to a low-carbon economy by developing new green business models for different industrial sectors. Infact, young and small firms are emerging as main drivers of radical eco-innovation in the industrial and services sectors.
What are Green SMEs
Green SMEs adopt green processes and/or those producing green goods using green production inputs. A judicious exploitation of techno-commercial opportunities and redevelopment of business models, often neglected by established companies, have been the major hallmarks of green SMEs.
For example, SMEs operating in eco-design, green architecture, renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainability are spearheading the transition to green economy across a wide range of industries. The path to green economy is achieved by making use of production, technology and management practices of green SMEs. Impact investment platforms allows individuals to invest in environmentally sustainable companies.
Categories of Green Industries
Protection of ambient air
Protection of climate
Management of forest resources
Management of flora and fauna
Noise and vibration abatement
Management of minerals
Protection of biodiversity and landscape
Protection against radiation
Natural resource management activities
Protection of soil, groundwater and surface water
Environmental Monitoring and Instrumentation
Research and Development
Research and Development
The key motivations for a green entrepreneur are to exploit the market opportunity and to promote environmental sustainability. A green business help in the implementation of innovative solutions, competes with established markets and creates new market niches. Green entrepreneurs are a role model for one and all as they combine environmental performance with market targets and profit outcomes, thus contributing to the expansion of green markets.
Some of the popular areas in which small green businesses have been historically successful are renewable energy production (solar, wind and biomass), smart metering, building retrofitting, hybrid cars and waste recycling.
As far as established green industries (such as waste management and wastewater treatment) are concerned, large companies tend to dominate, however SMEs and start-ups can make a mark if they can introduce innovative processes and systems. Eco-friendly transformation of existing practices is another attractive pathway for SMEs to participate in the green economy.
The Way Forward
Policy interventions for supporting green SMEs, especially in developing nations, are urgently required to overcome major barriers, including knowledge-sharing, raising environmental awareness, enhancing financial support, supporting skill development and skill formation, improving market access and implementing green taxation.
In recent decades, entrepreneurship in developing world has been increasing at a rapid pace which should be channeled towards addressing water, energy, environment and waste management challenges, thereby converting environmental constraints into business opportunities.
Homebuilders are starting to pay more attention to sustainability in the construction process since they’re more mindful of eco-conscious buyers and the rising cost of utilities. For example, the use of cellular glass insulation is becoming more common in the building industry.
What about existing and especially older homes, however? How can you realistically lower your utility bills and be more sustainably minded?
The following are things to keep in mind.
After-the-Fact Insulation and General Efficiency
While you might not be able to re-insulate your entire house, there are still things you can do to make it more insulated overall.
First and foremost, the winter season is here, and you should go through your entire house to make sure there aren’t any air leaks in your windows and doors. You can use caulking and weatherproofing strips to combat them. You can also install a window insulation kit.
If you have thick, lined curtains, this will keep heat in your house. If you don’t want to buy new curtains, you can add material as a liner, like fleece. During the day, keep your curtains open in the winter, so the sun will warm them up. Then, as the sun is setting, close them to seal the heat in.
Some people use so-called door snakes, which are essentially just something made from materials like old socks that you put at the bottom of your door to block the cold air.
If you have a chimney, plug it in while it’s not in use. In one study, household heating bills were 30% higher when a house had a missing or broken fireplace damper. If your flue doesn’t properly seal, you’re potentially losing a lot of heat through the chimney. You can use a chimney balloon to seal it.
If you have an attic, take a look around. Heat can escape through the attic. You can add foil sheets to the rafters in the roof so that the heat is reflected and goes back into your living space.
Check the seals on your appliances, just like you do for your windows and doors because you want your cold air staying where it belongs.
Improve your heating and cooling efficiency by fixing leaky ductwork, and if you’re sleeping or not at home, set your thermostat back anywhere from 10 to 15 degrees. A programmable thermostat will do the work for you.
Regularly change your air filters because when an air conditioner or furnace has a dirty filter, it makes running your appliances more expensive. It also makes your home dustier. Make sure you’re changing your filters every 60-90 days.
The hot water you use in your home is likely your second-largest power-related expense, based on data from the Energy Department.
Taking shorter showers is simple enough, but there are other things you can do here as well. Replace your showerhead with one that’s efficient, and don’t wash clothes in hot water.
Adjust the temperature on your water heater since the default is typically 140 degrees. If you lower it to 120 degrees, you can reduce the costs of heating your water by as much as 10%. If you’re going out of town, turn the heater to the lowest possible setting.
Lighting and Power
Your electronics and lights make up around 11% of your energy usage.
The easiest fix here is swapping out your old lightbulbs for LED bulbs with an Energy Star label.
Dimmer switch installation isn’t necessarily as easy, but it can save you a lot. Dimmers let you adjust brightness as you need, so you’re saving electricity, and you’re also in control of the ambiance of your room.
Some electronics don’t ever actually power off. They might be in standby mode, so over time, they’re using a continuous trickle of electricity. You can use a smart power strip, which will cut the current if these devices aren’t being used.
You’ll often hear these devices referred to as vampire appliances. A vampire appliance can be anything that doesn’t need to be plugged in all the time yet is.
You can get a home energy monitor that will tell you more about the use of electricity in your home via a mobile app. These devices plug into your electrical panel. You can buy them online, and then it will show you how plugging in or unplugging different devices could impact how much wattage you’re using.
Only run your appliances, like your dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer, when they’re full. No matter how full they are, they’re using the same amount of energy, so wait until you can do a complete load.
Get An Energy Audit
If you’ve never done so, with the likely soaring costs of energy this winter, it could be a good time to consult a professional for an energy audit.
During an energy audit, the person conducting it may do blower door tests, which will check for drafts. They can also use infrared cameras and do other types of inspections to assess the house, the features, and your habits.
These take between one and five hours to complete and usually cost around $400 on average, although they can be more depending on where you live and how big your house is.
Some energy companies offer audits for free or at a discount to their customers, so before you pay, talk to your provider.
The Department of Energy says that if you make efficiency upgrades, it can save you between 5-30% on your bills.
Finally, look at the size of the machines you’re using for both work and entertainment. More people are doing more things at home than ever before, but this could be negatively affecting your energy usage.
Your desktop computer, for example, is going to use more energy than a laptop. Laptops are more efficient overall, and you can unplug them more easily when you’re not using them.
Video game consoles are another example. They’re a lot less efficient than a smaller streaming device. Some people use video game consoles to stream TV shows and apps, but you should only use these consoles for games. Get a dedicated streaming device for TV because a console will use as much as 20 times more energy.
Recycling is an effective energy conservation measure that translates into avoided emissions alongside other environmental and economic benefits. It saves energy by decreasing or eliminating energy use during extraction, transportation, and processing of raw materials into finished products.
How Recycling Saves Energy
Manufacturing is a labor, waste, and energy-intensive process that is never-ending due to the increasing demand for consumer products. Manufacturing products from scratch requires raw materials to be extracted, transported, and refined. However, when recycling, you are using already refined materials that need less energy to be transformed into usable products.
Recycling also saves time, money, natural resources, conserves the environment, and shrinks landfills. Hence, the more we recycle, the more we save and gain. Because of these benefits, it is essential to sign up for a residential recycling collection service to have your recyclable trash going to the right place.
The amount of energy saved through recycling generally depends on the material being reprocessed. Let’s take a look at the energy savings of four of the most commonly recycled materials.
Aluminum manufacturing requires huge amounts of heat and electricity. Despite constant efforts to reduce energy consumption, manufacturing aluminum still costs three times more than the theoretical minimum energy requirement.
Recycling aluminum cans and scrapes requires 6 percent of the energy needed to manufacture aluminum from bauxite ore. Repurposing aluminum saves the energy that would have been used to extract, transport, crush, and combine bauxite with caustic soda. Additionally, extracting aluminum from bauxite requires the ore to be purified and smelted.
Thus, the aluminum recycling process is fast, efficient, and achieves up to 94 percent energy savings. Even better, you can recycle aluminum infinite times without degrading, increasing energy saving in the long run. Besides, introducing new alloys and improved product design along the product chain results in more energy and environmental savings.
Glassmaking is an energy-intensive process that involves melting sand and other minerals at extremely high temperatures. Reprocessing glass still needs lots of energy to melt the glass and make a new product. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says reprocessing glass results in 30% energy savings. Glass, like aluminum, does not degrade when it is recycled.
Thus, tossing glass in recycling bins will help preserve natural resources, like sand and soda ash, and reduce the energy costs involved with transporting these heavy materials. It also allows glass manufacturers to cut on energy input to their furnaces. The cumulative energy costs decrease by 2 to 3 percent for every 10 percent of broken glass used in the production process.
Moreover, the durability of glass allows for recycling without reprocessing. This means that you can save 100% energy by cleaning and reusing glass around your home and eliminate the need for an energy-intensive manufacturing process.
An average American household throws away 13,000 pieces of paper every year. These translate into almost 1 billion trees worth of paper being thrown away yearly in the U.S. You can recycle all or most of this paper and contribute to 40% energy savings. Recycled paper can be used to make a variety of new paper products.
However, this is limited by its appearance, which is not as white or smooth as new paper. Fortunately, biodegradable inks and erasable paper promise improved paper recycling efficiency. You could also reduce your paper usage or reuse paper around your home whenever possible to conserve energy and save trees.
Many plastic products are single-use commodities that are only in use for a few minutes. However, these require hundreds of years to biodegrade. Sadly, approximately 4 percent of America’s total energy consumption goes to producing plastic products.
Recycling plastic requires only about 10% of the energy needed to manufacture one pound of plastic from virgin sources. The recovery process has short-term energy-saving benefits because plastics degrade every time they are recycled.
However, many manufactures have ways of repurposing low-grade plastics to use in less demanding applications, such as carpeting, park benches, auto parts, and insulation.
Other Materials to Recycle Around Your Home
You can recycle many other materials around your home, and you can determine their energy savings using the iWARM tool created by the EPA. Some of these materials include
You can also contribute to energy conservation by purchasing recycled household products. Some of the most common include
Reduce, reuse, recycle is a lifestyle that leads us to a greener planet. Following these guidelines for a greener planet will also save you some coins because most recycled products cost significantly less than products produced using virgin material. Keep in mind that 75 percent of all waste can be recycled, and doing this will save the planet loads of energy.
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