Since 2012, we have been busy working behind-the-scenes on the Climate Smart program and we now have some exciting news to share with you about the great initiatives we have put in place to cut our carbon emissions.
What is Climate Smart?
Climate Smart helps businesses measure and reduce their carbon footprint while cutting costs. They help small and medium-sized enterprises, like Solus, calculate emissions and strengthen businesses while building a resilient economy.
What we measured:
In 2012, we measured everything that contributed to the production of our products from energy used to heat produced and the production of concrete all in the goal of identifying where the biggest producers of carbon were. From this we made a plan to make some changes to cut our carbon. In the end of 2014, we will re-measure our carbon output to see how successful we were at reducing our carbon footprint.
What we learned and implemented:
The main area where we concentrated our efforts was in shipping. Shipping heavy objects takes a lot of gas which contributes to carbon emissions. So we are in the middle of a sustainability plan to switch from wooden crates to crates made of recycled cardboard.
The second area was in the production of concrete. In order to make concrete, we use water, cement, aggregated stone and sand. In simple terms 1lb of cement = 1lb of carbon. By replacing 10%-15% of cement with fly ash which is an industrial by-product, we have reduced our carbon count by 15%. We are also investigating the use rice bran husks, another by-product, and will see which works out better.
The third area was in the pouring and production side of concrete. Here, our ultimate goal was to reduce wasted concrete and energy. We have (and are still in the process) of creating procedures that will allow us to make more accurate batch sizes. We want to make sure that every employee that makes a product, makes it in exactly the same way so we know exactly how much water is needed, for how long a batch must vibrate and make sure that moulds are cleaned perfectly so there aren’t imperfections in the finished product.
The Climate Smart program isn’t just reserved for production though, we were also able to make some improvements in our office too. For instance, we implemented a paperless system to reduce paper waste and now have implemented paying suppliers electronically. We also put in energy-efficient lighting in a number of areas in the building and now use T5 fluorescents which are more efficient than our previous lighting.
In implementing all these changes, the biggest impact we faced was in changing our own habits which has resulted in a cultural shift in our staff. We were environmentally concerned before, but now having gone though the Climate Smart program, we’re so much more aware of the materials and energy we use and take the extra time to do the little things like, turn off the lights, not use an extra piece of paper etc.
Why we joined Climate Smart:
Fundamentally as a manufacturer we are always striving to produce a product that is better and become more efficient at producing it – it almost goes without saying. But there is more to it than that. By eliminating waste and changing our attitude to waste and over production we have eliminated literally tons of material from landfill and the recycling depot.
We feel good about this – it can‘t help but translate into less carbon emissions. We are not sure we will ever be a zero-waste facility but we are trying. It has been a very worthwhile exercise from a production warehouse person putting up signs to turn off the lights at the end of the day to the office staff moving paper docs to the “cloud” when we used to produce countless boxes of paper documents. More to come – for more information visit Climate Smart.