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Climate change is a topic that provokes fervent debate. Whether you’re reading a newspaper or listening to the headlines on the radio, it’s highly likely that the subject of climate change will crop up before too long. With the future of the planet increasingly pertinent, as a business owner, it’s more important than ever to think about what you could do to help curb the climate change threat.
Climate Change In The US: What Is The Current Situation?
The National Climate Assessment provides a detailed overview of the impact of changing climates in the US. Once perceived as a distant threat, it has become increasingly evident that climate change is an issue that needs to be tackled with urgency on a national and global scale.
Research suggests that the impact of human activity and behavior is contributing to the greenhouse effect and causing temperatures to rise at an alarming rate. You only have to watch the news to see that flooding, storms and extreme snow showers and heat waves have become more commonplace.
Seasonal changes are occurring all over the US. They are experiencing longer, hotter, drier summers and more intense, grueling winters. In Arctic Alaska, sea ice is melting rapidly, and in the West, wildfires are starting to ravage forests and homes earlier in the year.
The main issue is the production of carbon dioxide, which has increased by more than 40% since the days of the Industrial Revolution. In the US, the average temperature has risen by 1.3° since 1895, with the most significant increase taking place in the last 30 years.
Projections suggest that the temperature will rise by another 2° in the next 30 years. Climate change affects almost every industry, from food growers and manufacturers to construction and healthcare companies, farmers, water and energy firms.
How The United States Is Responding To Climate Change
The US is one of the leading contributors to global emissions. Once a part of the Paris Agreement, the US continues to focus its climate change policies on reducing emissions. A decade ago, the US was responsible for 25% of global emissions, but the figure has fallen to less than 18%.
Figures from the Environmental Protection Agency show that greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 7% between 2005 and 2014. Local and state governments are working to promote cleaner energy and incentives and tax credits are available for initiatives like switching to hybrid or electric cars.
The price of renewable energy, for example, solar power, has also fallen, making it a more accessible option for home and business owners. According to SEIA, the average cost of installing solar panels has fallen by around 60% since 2010.
How Industries Can Help In Curbing Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that the rising temperature of the planet is due almost entirely to human activity. Increasing levels of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases are causing temperatures to soar at an alarming pace.
The most effective way to tackle climate change from an industry point of view is to reduce emissions and to try and achieve this objective as quickly as possible. There are multiple ways businesses across all industries can attempt to hit lower emissions targets. Below you’ll find a few.
- Measuring your carbon footprint. Many of us are guilty of wasting energy at home, and this is likely to ring true in business as well. Without realizing, you might be using far more energy than you need to. Measuring your carbon footprint will provide you with an insight into how energy-efficient you are, and highlight areas where you can make cutbacks that will reduce your carbon footprint.
- Reducings your energy usage. All businesses require energy, but it’s often possible to make savings. New buildings are constructed with energy efficiency in mind and there are some very simple ways you can cut bills and make a positive contribution to the planet at the same time. Even something as small-scale as switching traditional light bulbs for LED bulbs will make a difference.
- Considering alternative energy sources. Burning fossil fuels is one of the most significant contributors to global greenhouse gas production. Increasingly, US industries are looking for ways to utilize cleaner, greener energy sources, such as solar, wind and wave power.
- Reviewing transportation options. Whether you operate within the transportation industry or you rely on a fleet of vehicles to deliver goods to your customers, you could make changes that would help to curb the threat of climate change. Switching to electric vehicles and encouraging your staff to cycle, walk or use public transportation or carpooling to get to work will help.
Alternative Sources Of Energy & Which Option Is Best For Your Industry
With growing interest in trying to preserve the planet for as long as possible, industries across the country are looking into cleaner sources of energy. There are several alternatives, but perhaps the most significant are solar power, hydroelectric energy, biofuels, natural gas, wind energy, and nuclear power.
Solar power is becoming increasingly commonplace in the US and it can be used to power everything from single properties and residential areas to large-scale industrial and commercial facilities. Installation prices are falling year on year, and incentives are available in some parts of the US.
Solar power has become particularly influential in California, Nevada, Georgia, and Arizona. Hydroelectric power has been utilized for decades, but it became less prominent as the dominance of fossil fuels hit. Today, it is enjoying a resurgence, particularly in California. Demand for natural gas is increasing across the US and has hit record highs in recent years.
The US is one of the world’s prime manufacturing nations, and schemes like the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative are encouraging companies to look at alternative measures to produce the energy required to create products. The most significant changes include reducing fossil fuel consumption in exchange for increased investment in solar power and biomass.
Agriculture is another sector in which renewable energy is booming. Many farmers already use renewable energy by growing corn to generate ethanol, and growers and ranchers are also making full use of the land they have available and the weather conditions to increase output.
Those based in areas that receive sunlight throughout the year can benefit from solar systems, while those located close to the coast or on high ground can take advantage of wind power. According to the US Department of Energy, wind power could create up to $1.2 billion in extra income for rural landowners by the year 2020.
With so many options on the table, it might be difficult to decide which type of energy source is best for your business. If you’re unsure where to begin when it comes to investing in renewables or switching to solar energy firms, it’s wise to seek expert advice.
An energy consulting firm can provide tailored advice based on your current energy consumption, the type of business you own, and your geographical location. Working with energy efficiency consultants will enable you to adopt cleaner, more eco-friendly ways of working, and also save you a substantial amount of money in the long-term.
When you contact a consultant, they will go through all the options with you, give you information about the alternatives that are viable, and help you weigh up the pros and cons.
Energy Saving Tips For Your Business
Switching to renewables is not the only way to reduce your energy usage and lower emissions. There are many ways you can make a positive contribution, and often, even minor changes can make a huge difference. Below are a few energy saving tips that are good for every industry:
- Auditing energy usage. Are you aware of how much energy you use in an average month? Many of us pay bills without taking the time to analyze the figures. Whether you have a small or medium-sized business, or you run a multinational corporation, it pays to keep an eye on your energy consumption. Having an energy audit done will give you an accurate idea of how much energy you’re using and how you use energy. Auditing can flag up anomalies and it might also pinpoint areas where you might be wasting energy. If you can reduce energy usage, you’ll also lower your running costs.
- Ensuring proper use of HVAC systems. You can reduce energy usage by maintaining your HVAC system, replacing old units, upgrading your system, and using a thermostat.
- Modernizing lighting. If you’re still using old-fashioned light bulbs, now is the time to swap them for LED lights. Most LED bulbs have a lifespan of around 50,000 hours, which is 50 times longer than the average light bulb. Using LED lights will reduce energy consumption and lower costs without compromising on intensity or power.
- Telecommuting and flexible working. If you’ve got offices full of people driving into work every day, you could reduce your carbon footprint significantly by offering more flexible working arrangements, including working from home. With advanced technology, systems and software and multiple communication channels and platforms available, it’s possible to work from anywhere nowadays. It’s also a good idea to explore options like video conferences if you have a workforce that travels for meetings, for example. If you can replace some face-to-face meetings with video calls, this will save you a substantial amount of money and eliminate the need for your staff to drive or catch trains and planes.
For more ideas for your business, here are 20 ways to go green at work.
Climate change is an issue that impacts all of us. We are more aware of the potential implications of increased human activity than ever before. That’s why businesses of all sizes and scales have a responsibility to do their part.
There are myriad ways to reduce energy usage and adopt greener ways of working. If you’re looking to help out and curb the threat of climate change, consider whether or not it’s time for your business started doing more. Speak with a consultant today about getting a free energy audit for your business.
About Verde Solutions
Verde Solutions is full service, energy efficiency consultant firm founded on three main principles; Innovation, Sustainability, and Efficiency. At Verde, we create value for our clients and communities by providing innovative energy efficient solutions. By reducing energy use and utilizing renewable energy, we lower costs and set a sustainable path for the future.