How small businesses can walk the sustainability talk

Forum Group

By Sustainability Matters Staff
Monday, 18 May, 2015


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Emissions reduction is very much on the agenda for businesses large and small. The challenge Australian businesses are grappling with is how to reduce their environmental impact without detriment to the bottom line. The perception is that being green can be extremely costly. Well-known practices like solar and hybrid fleet can be expensive to use or require a major capital outlay.

The reality is that sustainability doesn’t always require major investment. In fact, it’s well within reach, even for small and medium-sized businesses. Through the adoption of certain green technologies, businesses can decrease their environmental impact and improve their bottom line at the same time. It’s a win for the business and, when adopted more widely by some of Australia’s 2 million plus small businesses[1], it could have a genuine impact on decreasing Australia’s total emissions.

Forum Group has provided below two simple and cost-effective solutions SMBs could consider to help reduce their carbon footprint:

1. Voltage Power Optimisation

Voltage Power Optimisation (VPO) is an example of energy-efficiency technology which has been used across a number of industries. It works by improving power efficiency and quality. Electrical equipment (such as motors, HVAC and lighting) performs inefficiently when exposed to excessive voltage and poor power quality. VPO units optimise a site’s power supply to provide financial, energy and carbon savings - simultaneously correcting the problem of overvoltage on the supply network and improving the quality of power entering the building. An example of this technology is Forum Enviro’s powerPerfector VPO device which optimises and regulates the incoming power supply to bring the voltage supplied into a building in line with what is required to drive the equipment. Not only does this reduce the overall energy consumption, but it also extends the life of electrical equipment.

Part of the appeal of VPO is its ability to be implemented across a wide range of energy-intensive industries. Organisations as diverse as food production and city councils can reap significant environmental and financial benefits through the adoption of the technology.

Case study: Rigters IGA supermarkets, Geraldton, WA

A number of IGA stores in Geraldton, north of Perth, have had good success using VPO technology. In recent years, the arrival of national supermarket chains had placed increased pressure on the business to remain economically sustainable. Part of the approach to sustainability was a proactive program of energy conservation measures. Having already previously installed LED lights and solar, Rigters IGA was keen to explore other options, such as VPO.

One 690 kVA unit was installed in the largest store, while two other stores were fitted with 280 kVA units in early 2014. This resulted in a 7.9% reduction in the energy demand annually, and a saving of 285 tonnes of CO2 and 347,543 kWh. From a financial perspective, implementing Forum Enviro’s powerPerfector technology saved $7400 a year.

Case study: Adelaide Council

Demonstrating that VPO technology can be applied across vastly different sectors, Adelaide Council also used the technology to reduce the emissions of its town hall. Built in 1866, the heritage building was part of the council’s drive to drop its carbon emissions by 60% a couple of years ago. The council needed a simple and cost-effective solution that did not require extensive renovation to the landmark building. Installation of the Forum Enviro powerPerfector VPO device decreased the town hall’s CO2 emissions by 158 CO2 tonnes per year and delivered an annual saving of over $30,000. These results helped the council meet its energy sustainability targets without a significant capital outlay.

2. Telematics

The second cost-effective solution businesses could consider is telematics. When running a fleet of vehicles, many businesses find it difficult to keep track of where the vehicles are, communicate effectively on the job and keep fuel consumption to a minimum. Telematics technology helps by providing a clearer picture of the fleet and allowing businesses to identify opportunities to improve efficiencies.

On a practical level, this involves using technology to help businesses keep track of their fleet location in real time, sharing information with drivers on the job and supporting management reporting and job dispatch. Telematics technology can also assist businesses to improve navigation, which in turn saves fuel as the fleet is directed to the most efficient route. Devices can share data on fuel consumption to support businesses pinpointing fuel inefficiencies by monitoring driver behaviour. With some devices, such as TomTom Telematics, tips and advice will also be shared on a safer and more efficient driving style to support reduced energy consumption across the fleet.

Case study: MorCo Fresh

One organisation that wanted to streamline fleet operations was wholesale food distributor MorCo Fresh. The company needed to increase the number of deliveries its trucks could make per day and improve customer service by providing accurate ETAs for deliveries. Additionally, the business also wanted to improve the safety of its drivers and decrease fuel consumption and mileage. To maximise efficiency on and off the road, MorCo Fresh installed TomTom Telematics into its fleet.

Through telematics, MorCo Fresh reduced fuel and mileage, as well as minimised the number of accidents and infringement notices. The installation of units that monitor fuel consumption also allowed MorCo Fresh to access accurate data on fuel usage and pinpoint the inefficiencies in the fuel systems. Along with the significant environmental benefits, the business has seen an average increase in productivity of two additional deliveries per vehicle per day since installation.

Case study: Just Power

Electrical contracting company Just Power is an example of a business that successfully used telematics to decrease fuel consumption. As the business grew, so too did Just Power’s administration and logistics requirements across its fleet. Forum Fleet installed Tom Tom Telematics Link530 Track and Trace system to help improve fuel efficiency. Since installation, Just Power has seen an overall reduction in fuel consumption of 15%. Employee overtime also decreased by 20% as a result of Just Power having greater visibility of staff movements across the fleet. The telematics solution created efficiencies across the fleet that dropped Just Power’s carbon footprint and saved money.

[1] ABS, 2015: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mediareleasesbytitle/950EC94DB899312ECA2573B00017B8F4?OpenDocument

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