Give people the power to live a greener lifestyle
–Craig Boundy is UK CEO of Logica. The opinions expressed are his own.–
Recent research by Logica showed that only 22 per cent of individuals feel the onus is on them to deliver a sustainable future. Individuals want more guidance on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle, with 18 per cent of respondents saying they had no idea what changes they need to make, and only 22 per cent feeling a responsibility to take the initiative. Central and local government need to put the power into consumers’ hands by equipping them with the knowledge and the technologies to make change a reality – and ultimately to get them excited about living a greener lifestyle.
Homes are the biggest emitters of CO2 in London – around 36 per cent of London’s CO2 emissions come from its homes according to government statistics. The good news is the government has already created a pan-London scheme called RE:NEW which is designed to make it easier for all households to improve their energy efficiency. With RE:NEW, householders are given energy efficiency advice and can have simple improvements installed for free throughout the home. These include energy display devices, radiator panels, aerated taps, hot water tank jackets and draught-proofing. These are basic changes but it’s a good start.
Government now needs to look at how more permanent changes, like installing solar panels and home energy monitors, can be funded. Under the recently-introduced Green Deal, bill payers will be able to get energy efficiency improvements without having to front up the cash. Instead, energy companies will install the products and bill payers will pay these back via the cost savings on their bills. At the heart of the offer is a simple rule: estimated savings on bills over a period of time will always equal or exceed the cost of the work. It’s a flexible framework and one that gives businesses and consumers the opportunity to make the improvements that best suit their situation.
Smart meters are already saving people money as they are able to go online and monitor their energy usage. Trials have shown that smart meters can reduce bills by five to ten per cent, and these savings are part of the reason the government has announced plans to install smart meters in every UK household. The planned rollout will start in 2014 and is due to be completed by 2020. A typical family can already expect to save around £300 – £400 a year.
Businesses also need to collaborate. Companies such as Logica are consulting with clients to demonstrate the economic benefits of sustainable solutions as well as the social and environmental benefits. This includes renewable power generation, empowering energy efficiency through dynamic control of public infrastructure, mobilising workforces with electric vehicles and cycle hire schemes and realising cost saving opportunities through carbon accounting.