Friday, 28 March 2014

Temple helps judge Sir Peter Parker Award at the 2014 Sustainable City Awards

Martin Gibson - Head of Operations

Temple supports the Sustainable City Awards by supplying one of the judges for the Sir Peter Parker Award. We are delighted to see so many companies embracing sustainability and it is great to see many of them gaining recognition for their efforts. Of course, they will also have better businesses because of what they have achieved through pursuing sustainability.

Congratulations to Nampak Plastics Ltd for winning the Sir Peter Parker Award for Business Leadership 2014 at the Sustainable City Awards on Thursday evening. The award recognises that Nampak has successfully set new standards of innovation, performance and leadership for sustainability.

Nampak won a tightly fought contest because they have demonstrated real environmental and business benefits in developing a new plastic milk bottle. By starting at the design stage, they have been able to reduce material use by 20% and increase the amount of recycled material used in the new bottle. Nampak produce around 2 billion milk bottles every year. The new bottle would reduce the overall amount of resin used in milk bottles by 10,000 tonnes each year if it were to become the bottle of choice.

Nampak’s new bottle has been made easy for consumers to use and is, of course, fully recyclable. By helping to promote recycling and using a high level of recycled material, Nampak are leading the move towards a circular economy.

The Sir Peter Parker Award for Business Leadership is drawn from the business winners and runners-up of the twelve categories of the Sustainable City Awards. The range of activities that companies are taking to address sustainability is considerable. To demonstrate this, the Awards include categories for finance, resource conservation, food, building and fashion, amongst others. This year there were also awards for entrepreneurship for both businesses and social enterprises. The full range of the awards and the winners can be found on the Sustainable City Awards web site.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

ISO 50001:2011, the new Energy Management Systems

Paul Downing - Temple Associate

Paul Downing, a Temple Associate, explains the new energy management system standard and its benefits. He also outlines how this can be used to apply a systematic approach to addressing the European Code of Conduct for data centres.  

ISO 50001:2011, Energy Management Systems (EnMS) is a new voluntary International Standard that establishes a framework for large and small businesses to improve the way they manage energy. Improved energy performance can provide financial benefits for an organization by maximizing the use of its energy resources and energy-related assets, thus reducing both energy consumption and cost. It also helps to provide evidence to customers that are demanding improved environmental performance from their suppliers.

The new standard is based on the tried and tested plan-do-check-act, (Demming cycle) which is used for many of the other standards such as ISO 14001:2004 (environmental management systems), so it can be easily integrated into these existing systems.

Although an energy management system (EnMS) can be part of an environmental management system (EMS), having a dedicated energy management system compliant to ISO 50001 can help deliver real benefits to organisations wishing to make savings on probably one of their most expensive resource costs, by providing a focus on oil, gas, electricity and general energy use. The EMS in contrast might focus on other regulatory issues such as waste production or chemical use, which, whilst important, do not have the same financial implications as energy.

Implementing an energy management system certified to ISO 50001, requires you to determine energy baseline(s), identify significant energy uses and energy performance indicators as well as structuring objectives and targets to drive down energy use via a systemised approach. There are also specific clauses relating to design (refurbishment projects, new build) and procurement, including specifying energy purchasing requirements for new assets or services.

The European Code of Conduct for data centres is a voluntary standard for data centre operators and owners which promotes energy efficiency best practice. The code is voluntary but includes many elements of energy efficiency which, if implemented, can help with energy savings across a number of KPI's within the data centre environment. These all help to drive down the PUE figure (Power Usage Efficiency) which is one of the main metrics of data centre energy management.

The code includes metrics related to supply and return temperatures, ASHRAE, CRAC unit temperature set-points and all other parameters all designed to optimise energy efficiency in the data centre environment. There is a natural fit with this CoC and ISO 50001 and the requirement of data centres to provide hosting in a most energy efficient way as possible.

ISO 50001 can be applied to any energy consuming industry in manufacturing or industry but as with most other systems there are some industries that seem to benefit from the standardised approach more than others. If you are looking to implement an energy minimisation project or change management programme please contact Temple to discuss your options further.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Temple does Climate Week - Part 2

by Robert Slatcher (Principal Consultant) & Sam Dawson (Graduate Consultant)

This is the subsequent edition of “Temple does Climate Week”; a blog describing the activities in which Temple Group participated in during Climate Week, encompassing particular causes and effects of climate change and the small things we can all do in everyday life to help combat this issue.

Thursday Energy

The main focus of Thursday was a fracking debate. It is believed that trillions of cubic feet of shale gas is recoverable from underneath parts of northern England, which could significantly boost domestic oil production and drive gas prices down. It is reported that the US and Canada are generating electricity from fracking at half the CO2 emissions of coal. This debate included heated discussions with arguments posed about whether the act of fracking was shifting the focus and monetary resources away from the effort to decarbonise the economy; distracting the attention of government and large energy firms away from investing in renewable sources and encouraging reliance on fossil fuels. The need to address fuel poverty was also a hot topic, with both teams arguing the case well. The event culminated in a tie between those for and those against fracking… the debate continues.

Friday - the 1 hour Challenge

Following on from Thursday’s fracking debate a film entitled “The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil” was shown. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba's economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half and food by 80%. The film looks at how a country has already managed an energy crisis and how they adapted without readily available alternative fuel sources. Can we draw inspiration from this to look at an alternative approach to our future attitude to peak oil? Do we change how we fundamentally live our lives or do we continue in the pursuit of hydrocarbons?

The final day of Climate Week also saw a selection of Temple employees from various sectors in the company competing in the Climate Week 1 hour Challenge.

This year’s Climate Week Challenge was “Get us out of hot water: come up with an idea that helps people use less energy heating buildings and water.”

The hour started with a discussion about the challenge, bringing about ideas such as developing non-diuretic coffee beans to reduce toilet use and hence minimise water usage; putting solar panels on the moon to enhance capture of suns radiation; Use of graphene to insulate buildings (this is an extremely strong material made up of densely packed carbon atoms, it could be described as a one-atom thick layer of graphite); use of the desert to store heat; and use of PV celled glass in office windows.

But the winner was “Cycling for future resilience” this is an idea whereby two bike dynamos are attached to each wheel of the bicycle (one to heat water and one ‘chargeable’ battery pack). Office workers would cycle to work, charging the dynamos on their commute. The dynamo powering the heating filament to heat the water can be used for the morning tea/coffee as employees get to the office; this would reduce the energy used heating water in the morning. The battery pack can be removed from the bike and plugged into the mains at the office; which would supplement the office’s energy supply to heat the building and hence reduce reliance on the main grid.

Stage 2 of the idea was that the bikes could be hooked into an office unit/rack; workers can utilise these bikes during breaks and can supplement energy generation at the same time.

Stage 3 was an idea for a “future resilience Box” (FRB) to be fitted to the offices mains supply; this would monitor both the energy used and energy generated for each appliance by each employee – this could be used to inform a reward scheme whereby the employee who generates the most energy is rewarded with an extra day in lieu for example. The box would also be able to calculate how much energy is offset and saved in order to raise awareness of energy use amongst employees.

As we are all aware Climate Change cannot be battled in a week, but we hope we have inspired you to grow your own food, reduce your carbon footprint and make even one small change to your lifestyle that can be applied all year round.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Temple does Climate Week - Part 1

by Robert Slatcher (Principal Consultant) & Sam Dawson (Graduate Consultant)

The fourth annual national Climate Week campaign ran between 3-9 March. The aspiration for climate week is to develop a long-term shift in societal attitudes towards climate change. The campaign encourages individuals and organisations to promote activities during the week that raise awareness of the issues, challenges and opportunities in relation to decarbonising our society. Temple organised a range of activities throughout the week with each day focusing on a particular issue. The table tennis room in the office became the climate week hub for the week.

                                                      Monday - Sustainable Food

Approximately 20% (2.2 tonnes of CO2) of an individual’s personal carbon footprint in the UK comes from the food we eat. Factors that contribute to the carbon generated by food relate to the production process, processing, packaging, transportation, the seasonality and the storage. By eating in a manner that aligns with reducing the carbon required at each stage we can make a significant change to our personal footprint.

Climate Week kicked off with Eric Steltzer presenting on how to grow your own food and maintain an allotment. There was great interest from the 24 individuals that attended and plenty of questions at the end. Growing your own produce can significantly reduce the carbon associated with packaging and transportation. You are also more likely to grow seasonal produce thereby avoiding the use of energy to generate man made climatic conditions to grow out of season. Each employee that attended the event received their own pea seedling to inspire and kick start their own food collection.

At lunchtime a selection of low carbon food, prepared by Temple staff over the weekend, was set out. The aim was to use seasonal, local produce to reduce the carbon intensity of the food. The selection included a Kale and spinach tart; parsnip and apple soup; beetroot brownies; locally sourced cheese – the “Brighton Blue”; home-grown sprouts; and a kale, melon & orange smoothie.

Tuesday – Waste

The challenge for Tuesday was to produce zero waste. Although recycling saves energy (goods manufactured from recycled materials typically use less energy than those from virgin materials) waste prevention is the ultimate aspiration. This is because it is even more effective at saving energy (less energy is needed to extract, transport and process raw materials and to manufacture products). Reducing the demand for energy results in fewer fossil fuels being burnt and less CO2 is emitted to the atmosphere as a result.

Reduction in excess printing and paper waste was attempted through scowling posters of a member of the office environment team positioned over the printers; waste prevention and recycling of paper allows fewer trees to be felled and hence the carbon sequestration process (whereby trees absorb CO2 and store it in their wood) can continue and be maintained.

Staff were encouraged to bring in their own food from home in tupperware containers; as waste prevention and recycling of organic matter can reduce the amount of methane produced during decomposition through the diversion of waste to landfill. Packaging waste is one of Temple’s largest waste sources and hence preventing this would significantly reduce Temple’s carbon footprint.

A Bags for Life appeal was also implemented in support of a drive to reduce Temple’s plastic waste; a significant waste contributor are plastic bags from supermarkets. Temple now holds a small collection of bags for life that staff can take to the shops at lunchtime; this will significantly reduce plastic waste.

Wednesday – Transport

Transport is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making up approximately one quarter of EU GHG emissions; this is only second to emissions from the energy sector. Whilst GHG emissions from other sectors are generally in decline (falling by 15% between 1990 and 2007); emissions from transport are increasing (rising by 36% in the same period) and are expected to continue to increase despite improved vehicle efficiency.

The importance of reducing GHG emissions was communicated through the results of Temple’s commuting survey and the sustainability transport results. This enabled staff to visualise the environmental effects of their commute to work and were able to discuss more sustainable transport methods. Temple’s total annual commuting distance equated to 980,000km (more than the distance to complete a return trip to the moon,770,000km, and the same as the total length of all railways operational in China in 2012).

Carol Somper presented a lunchtime talk about energy efficiency entitled “Energy Efficiency - is it all just hot air?” In the talk Carol explained the huge energy consumption and ultimately cost saving that could be achieved through a range of measures. The talk drew upon various pieces of work Temple has undertaken to assess and reduce the energy use within other organisations.

Keep an eye out next week for part 2 of “Temple does climate week”. In this edition we will further discuss how energy use contributes to Climate Change in addition to the outcomes of a debate revolving around a highly controversial topic and the finale of the week – the Climate Week challenge.

Monday, 10 March 2014

The Supreme Court set an important precedent in regards to Noise Nuisance

Dani Fiumicelli 
Technical Director

If you move into an area with an activity that could be considered a nuisance, should the nuisance be allowed to continue? This is a question that often arises but the Supreme Court has now given an answer.

COVENTRY & ORS v LAWRENCE & ANOR (2014) [2014] UKSC 13

This case involved claims of noise nuisance from motor sport activities. In 2006 the appellant (Lawrence) had moved to a bungalow near a stadium, constructed in 1976, where speedway and stock-car racing had taken place and where a motocross track operated at the rear of the stadium. Planning permissions covering the speedway racing and motocross activities had been granted, while a certificate of lawful use covered the stock-car racing. At the High Court the judge heard competing evidence from noise experts for both parties, the stadium’s expert preferring to compare the motorsport noise to fixed benchmark criteria, and the complainant’s expert favouring the comparison of the motor sport noise to the existing noise climate. The High Court judge gave considerable weight to the subjective evidence from the complainants and decided that the noise coming from the stadium and track amounted to a nuisance. But the judge's finding was reversed at the Court of Appeal. This caused the following issues to be presented to the Supreme Court for decision:
  1. Did the fact that the stadium and motocross had operated for a relatively long time give them a prescriptive right to cause noise nuisance? 
  2. Did the operators of the stadium and motocross have a defence to say they were there first i.e. the complainants had "come to the nuisance" ? 
  3. Should the use of the premises for stock car racing, speedway and motocross be taken into account when assessing the character of the locality as part of the appraisal of nuisance? 
  4. Could the grant of planning permission affect the question of whether the permitted use was a nuisance? 
  5. What was the approach to be adopted by a court when deciding whether to grant an injunction to restrain a nuisance or whether to award damages instead?

The Supreme Court decided that:

  1. It was possible to obtain by prescription a right to commit a noise nuisance, but in this case the necessary test to establish that right had not been satisfied. Because it was not enough to show that the activity which created the noise had been carried on for 20 years. It was not even enough to show that the activity had created a noise for 20 years. What had to be established was that the activity had created a nuisance over 20 years.
  2. It was no defence to argue that the complainant came to the nuisance. Although it might well be a defence, at least in some circumstances, for a defendant to argue that, as it was only because the complainant had changed the use of, or built on, his land that the defendant's pre-existing activity was claimed to have become a nuisance, the claim should fail. 
  3.  A defendant, faced with a claim that his activities gave rise to a nuisance, could rely on those activities as constituting part of the character of the locality, but only to the extent that they did not constitute a nuisance. Similarly, any other activity in the neighbourhood could properly be taken into account when assessing the character of the neighbourhood, to the extent that it did not give rise to an actionable nuisance or was otherwise unlawful. 
  4. The existence of planning permission would normally be of no defence to  a claim of nuisance . Among other things, it was wrong in principle that, through the grant of a planning permission, a planning authority should be able to deprive a property-owner of a right to object to what would otherwise be a nuisance, without providing him with compensation, when there was no provision in the planning legislation which suggested such a possibility.
  5. The court's power to award damages in lieu of an injunction involved a classic exercise of discretion, which should not, as a matter of principle, be fettered, although the prima facie position was that an injunction should be granted. 

The Supreme Court’s decision reinforces and clarifies some important principles in regard to the legal notion of nuisance; not least of which is that the often criticised variable (even erratic) nature of the concept lends it to being flexible enough to cover a far wider range of scenarios that could ever be sensibly prescribed by a more doctrinaire legal mechanism.

The full judgement can  be seen at: