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page 28 winter 2010 Business Footprint 21newsSolar PV panels capture the sun's energy and convert it into electricity which can be used to run your household appliances and lighting.But can it really work in a country renowned for its cloudy summers? Yes! Solar PV panels work at their optimum in bright sunshine but they will still generate electricity when it's cloudy.So what do they generate? Well, the panels won't generate enough electricity to meet the total requirements of an average household. A typical system can produce 40% of what you use. Until recently, this meant that it took many years to pay back the initial cost of installation.However, Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) were introduced by the Government on the 1st April this year in order to help the UK achieve an important EU target: 15% of the UK's energy to be sourced from renewable energy systems by 2020. The Feed-in Tariff is basically a cash-back scheme that pays people for generating their own 'green' electricity. Tariffs vary depending on the type and size of system. An average 2.1kW Solar PV system (12 panels) could generate income and savings of up to £961* per year. For this system a Feed-in Tariff of 41.3p is paid for each unit of electricity generated (kWh), guaranteed for 25 years. For every unit you generate and use, that's one unit less you are buying from your energy supplier.The payback time will vary depending on the cost of the system but it generally works out at around 12 years. If you assume 2% inflation and an annual increase in energy costs of 3%, the return on investment over the 25 year life of the panels for a 2.1kW system calculates at around £28,414, that's an average annual rate of return in excess of 9%. Add to this the fact that a Solar PV installation on your roof could also increase the value of your property and in my view Solar PV becomes a sound financial investment. However, the performance of solar PV systems is impossible to predict with certainty due to the variability in the amount of solar radiation (sunlight) from location to location and from year to year. The figures used here are based upon the Government's standard assessment procedure for energy rating of buildings (SAP) and are given as guidance only. It is important to mention the environmental advantage to installing Solar PV on your home. An average household could reduce their carbon footprint by approx 1 tonne of CO2 per year by installing a Solar PV system. However, it is the financial investment opportunity that seems to be attractive to more and more home owners and businesses. Having recently installed a system on my own home, I have to say that it feels good on both levels. I'm doing my bit to reduce my carbon footprint and earning an income at the same time. On a final note, if you are thinking of investing in Solar PV, you must use an MCS Approved Installer in order to be eligible for the Feed-in Tariff. In addition, the MCS standard gives you the assurance that the installer has been through a robust assessment of not only their competence but also their business processes including quality control and customer interactions. *Figure assumes 12p / kWh current energy cost and 100% of energy generated usedPené Morgan of Morgans Electrical Ltd gives an insight into the value of Solar PV Solar PV - good for your pocket as well as the environmentEco-Kids Using waste things to educate and inspire the next generation.The Little Green House was started in February 2008 in Northampton.Our main focus is growing local food cooking local and seasonal produce and creating art and crafts from recycled and reused things with children of any age.We are delighted to be supported by several local businesses actively reducing their waste and burden on landfill sites by offering clean usable waste things which we use in our Eco-Kids projects.We currently offer our activities to nurseries, schools, sure start centres, festivals events to name but a few. This is a fantastic opportunity for children to learn about being green and environmentally aware.Children develop valuable skills many of which are mapped against the national curriculum. Due to the phenomenal success of Eco-Kids, The Little Green House is seeking people to run their own Eco-Kids business in their own area. Our first information day will take place on the Saturday 29th January 2011, between 10.00am - 12.00pm at Stanwick Lakes, Northants NN9 6GYOr you can request an information pack by contacting Sara Jones on 01604 401445 for an informal discussion or email or visit

newsNo Tree Huggers!By Peter Wognum, Resource Efficiency East: Low Carbon BusinessIn the past, environmental issues seemed to be the domain of a particular group of people tagged by the business community as 'tree huggers'.This intelligent collection of individuals cares for the planet like no others, so that children will have a countryside untainted by pollution. Deforestation with sustainability and biodiversity are key elements of their forward thinking. Times have moved on. The most recent introduction, the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), incorporated into the Companies Act 2006, now filtering through the supply chain.The Companies Act 2006 obliges qualifying organisations to take the actions that Government deems they have not taken voluntarily, and has given the Department of Trade extensive powers of enforcement.Carbon Reduction Companies Act 2006S.172 Duty to promote the success of the company(1) A director of a company must act in the way he considers, in good faith, would be most likely to promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members as a whole, and in doing so have regard (amongst other matters) to - (a) the likely consequences of any decision in the long term, (b) the interests of the company's employees, (c) the need to foster the company's business relationships with suppliers, customers and others, (d) the impact of the company's operations on the community and the environment, (e) the desirability of the company maintaining a reputation for high standards of business conduct, and (f) the need to act fairly as between members of the company.S.417 Contents of directors' report: business review(5) In the case of a quoted company the business review must, to the extent necessary for an understanding of the development, performance or position of the company's business, include - (a) the main trends and factors likely to affect the future development, performance and position of the company's business; and (b) information about -(i) environmental matters (including the impact of the company's business on the environment),(ii) the company's employees, and(iii) social and community issues, including information about any policies of the company in relation to those matters and the effectiveness of those policies; and (c) subject to subsection (11), information about persons with whom the company has contractual or other arrangements which are essential to the business of the company.If your company has a turnover greater than £5.6m, a balance sheet total in excess of £2.8m and more than 50 employees, you are obliged to develop a green strategy.There are, however, far more companies unaffected by the integration of the CRC but many organisations are embracing this new way of working. It enables them to be ahead of the game and to respond to customer requirements.There are many arguments for not changing current practices. Business activity is devoted to core strategies, such as marketing and sales, and lowest cost tendering, leaving no spare capacity or man-power to investigate alternative methods.Developing new processes is costly; there may not be any flexibility in current staffing levels to focus on new developments. This of course is true of any business; all are now structured with lean processes - enough people, time and money to deal with the current work flow and development strategy. However, there are some very basic changes that can be implemented, saving on purchase cost in some cases as much as 60% and with the benefit of reducing your company's CO2 burden.A. Procurement ManagementGreen Stationery £ > 15% CO2 > 35%Eco Printers £ > 60% CO2 > 60%22 Business Footprint winter 2010