Pushing ahead with our commitment to the Climate Pledge, GRM’s net zero ambitions are being realised. Upon signing the Climate Pledge we set out to achieve Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions reduction targets by the end of 2022. August 2022 sees us nearing completion of this ambitious target.
Going live at the start of the month, step 2 of our Climate Pledge actions saw completion of the installation of our 33kW solar power generation array. This exciting step follows our first stage which focussed on reducing our energy requirements through improved building insulation and reduced energy lighting.
The Solar installation has been designed to meet our annual net energy usage and our next step is to monitor our energy usage, therefore CO2 production, to confirm we have met our goal. Watch this space!
Making these investments has been significant for GRM, and we were delighted to receive almost 15% of the funding as financial support from Coventry City Council’s Green Business Programme. The Green Business Programme is part funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Coventry City Council, Coventry University and Coventry University Enterprises.
Efficiencies & Renewables – What have we done?
At GRM, our approach has been twofold; firstly to reduce our energy consumption and secondly to generate electricity through renewables.
One of the challenges we faced at GRM was that our company premises’ roof was made from old, asbestos roof panels, which were commonly used in UK construction. These are both expensive to replace and absorb a high amount of solar energy leading to excessive heating of the premises during summer months. This latter point was considered to be contributing to an excessive amount of energy consumption through our air-conditioning having to work hard to manage the heat energy created by the roof structure. To overcome this, and prepare for a solar panel installation, we invested in overcladding the roof structure, encapsulating the existing asbestos panels, adding insulation and creating a less heat absorbent roof. Monitoring our energy consumption and CO2 production, we have seen this change lead to a reduction of over 20% over the 3 summer months of May to July compared to 2021, leading to a direct reduction in CO2 production. In this period alone, this is a reduction of almost 0.5tonne.
The second stage of the process was the installation of our solar array. Taking just 2 weeks to install, and completing at the end of July (2021), an installation of 81 panels, generating a potential of 33kW of energy at maximum output was installed on the roof of our premises. The system is designed to generate 28MWh of energy over a 12-month period. This compares to our energy consumption in 2021 of 34MWh. With our projections for reduced energy consumption, already observed in May to July, our net energy usage will be generated through solar.
A return on investment both for the environment and financially
In the changing landscape of our global economy, the massive increase in energy costs in Europe has changed the outlook significantly when considering our return on investment. When planned, the costs of the solar installation were projected to break-even after 7 years. In GRM’s case, with the increase in energy costs, this is now estimated to be between 4-5 years. Renewable energy sources are therefore proving themselves to be both a necessary step for the environment and deliver a cost saving within a short time period.
More still to come
As part of our commitment to the Climate Pledge, there is much to do to achieve our commitment net zero carbon emissions. For the year ahead we will be monitoring our scope 1 and 2 emissions to understand what remains to achieve carbon net zero. From this, we will move to understanding our scope 3 carbon emissions, which is the most challenging step for us and many businesses.
An important point for us to remember at GRM is that we are a small business. Our contribution compared to larger companies and signatories of the Climate Pledge remains small. We therefore aim for our actions to motivate both larger businesses and large numbers of small businesses to learn from our steps and deploy them themselves. This is how we will all achieve our goals.