Ahmedabad: India’s largest integrated power company, Tata Power has installed a rainwater harvesting system at its Mithapur, Gujarat plant that will conserve water for reuse. Spread over 105 acres the system has already conserved 60KL of water which is being reused for cleaning 107,712 solar PV modules solar module panels at the 25 MW solar power plants. Tata Power’s Mithapur project is one of the largest in the country and has been developed through its 100 per cent subsidiary, ‘Tata Power Renewable Energy Limited’. The Mithapur solar power plant uses the modular, established, and widely deployed crystalline silicon photo-voltaic technology to maximise power generation. The project helps in reducing an annual average of 37,696 tons of carbon dioxide, by producing 39,597 MWh (average) per year equivalent amount of clean energy. To maintain the efficiency of solar panels, up to 100 KL of water is required for maintenance in 12 cycles in a year. Main objective of installing this system is to help in water conservation and sustainable use of the available portable water as Mithapur region and Jamnagar receive very low rainfall. The initiative has been taken by Tata to protect environment and conserve natural resources. The company is also developing a 28.8 MW of solar plant near Satara in Maharashtra. Rahul Shah, Chief-BD, Domestic & Renewable, Tata Power, said, “The Company has immense emphasis on water conservation and has used various techniques implemented for optimum utilization of resources across plants. Tata Power remains committed to sustainability and endeavours to generate 20-25 per cent of energy through clean energy sources.” The total area available for water harvesting there is 944 square meter. The company said that rain water run-offs from the roofs of the buildings is captured and stored in these existing water tanks. Post the collection of water in tankers, water is being transferred and stored in the storage units. Promotion of Green Buildings in Maharashtra The centre is about to finalize a policy under which it will provide additional floor space to promote green buildings. Thane developers have welcomed this step but saying that the concept can get a boost if the government will provide capital subsidy to the housing sector. Central government was supporting incentives like following additional built-up space, over and above the permitted floor area and financial support to encourage green buildings, said bureaucrats. Environment-friendly buildings which are designed to conserve water, electricity and use recycled material in construction are keys to resolve the challenges threatened by pollution. The construction costs have lowered down from 15% to around 2% to 3% for green buildings. The payback now is less than two to three years. “In two to three years, there won’t be any cost difference for green homes, it will become the norm. When it comes to homes, there is not much difference,’’ as per a developer. Public sector housing is also interested to design houses on the green building principles. “The housing department is keen to involve experts from the Indian Green Building Council and Confederations of Real Estate Developers Association of India to train government engineers on green building concepts.” said, a bureaucrat. To provide further boost to the green building sector, the Centre is also planning to modify the National Building Code. India has 1.65 billion sq ft of registered green buildings.
In coming four years the Government plans to promote 10 million green buildings. But, there is a need to provide incentive, which can be used to promote alternate technologies in building material and thus save costs.
Sustainability Matters in the Battle for Talent
by Jenny Davis-Peccoud
Employees at semiconductor-chip-maker Intel recently devised a new chemistry process that reduced chemical waste by 900,000 gallons, saving $45 million annually. Another team developed a plan to reuse and optimize networking systems in offices, which cut energy costs by $22 million. The projects produced financial and environmental benefits, of course. But just as valuable is the company’s ability to energize and empower front-line employees. New data shows that sustainability is an increasingly important factor in attracting and managing talent. Bain & Company recently surveyed about 750 employees across industries in Brazil, China, India, Germany, the UK, and the U.S. Roughly two-thirds of respondents said they care more about sustainability now than three years ago, with almost that many saying sustainable business is extremely important to them. Interest peaks among employees age 36 to 40 — a young group but not the youngest. Employees expect employers to step up and nurture this growing interest. When asked which group should take the lead on sustainability, more respondents cited employers than they did consumers, employees, governments, or all equally. In the developed world, a small but growing segment of what we call “sustainability enthusiasts” view sustainability as a major factor in job choices and are willing to accept lower compensation to work for an employer that meshes with their beliefs. They also want to be involved in developing sustainability strategy. Half of younger employees, about one-fifth of older employees and three-quarters of enthusiasts expect to play a role in how their firms approach the topic. And in a departure from attitudes five or 10 years ago, most employees care more about ensuring that the business operations themselves are sustainable than they do about philanthropic activities, as shown in this chart. Yet many companies are missing the opportunity to fully engage their employees on this issue. Only one-third of survey respondents characterized their own employer as a clear leader that has fully incorporated sustainable practices, with one-fifth saying their companies have few or no efforts. Leaders in this area, by contrast, do a few things differently. They push employees to put sustainability at the heart of the business. Instead of encouraging people to do their jobs in traditional fashion and perhaps volunteer for philanthropic activities on the side, leading companies make sustainability a core part of the work. UK-based Marks & Spencer launched “Plan A” in 2007, aiming to make the company the most sustainable retailer in the world by 2015 and incorporate sustainability attributes, such as sustainable cotton or wood, into every product it sells by 2020 (currently one-third of its products have Plan A attributes). Ideas for improvements or for entirely new initiatives bubble up from all corners of the organization. For instance, in 2008 Simon Colbeck, head of technology for clothing, was concerned about the huge volume of garments that end up in landfills every year. He suggested teaming up with the nonprofit Oxfam’s stores across the UK to resell used clothing. Colbeck’s idea got approval from the board and has led to 4 million pieces of clothing being recycled each year, raising £2 million for Oxfam. As a direct result of the plan, called “shwopping“, Marks & Spencer has seen a rise in customer traffic and thus further stickiness to its brand, while also helping the firm to recycle more of its products. They hold their employees accountable. Some have even begun to selectively tie compensation to sustainability metrics. Intel links a portion of every employee’s variable compensation to attaining environmental sustainability metrics. Higher-level employees, who have a broader job scope and greater ability to affect Intel’s performance, receive a higher percentage of their overall compensation at risk through bonus programs. They equip employees with the right tools and training. Statoil, a Scandinavian energy company, launched a climate and energy program in 2011 that nominates 10 senior executives to take part in a year-long program. Upon completion, these participants are expected to identify and respond to future climate uncertainties within their respective areas of responsibility. With top talent in short supply throughout many industries, employee attitudes about sustainable business practices are compelling more companies to take this issue seriously, yielding better business results for those that take action. Articulating a “nobler mission” for a company is a big motivator for employees and a powerful weapon in the war for talent. (Source: Smart brief)
Interview: Kevin Hagen, REI Joel Makower
Also during that time, REI developed its first comprehensive environmental program, engaging with its suppliers, competitors and others to address a wide range of operational and product-related issues. Joel Makower spoken with Hagen about his years at REI, and what he learned about making change happen. The following has been edited for clarity and length.
Joel Makower: What was your responsibility at REI?
Kevin Hagen: I had a wonderful job. I was responsible for helping set up and execute the first real corporate social responsibility program at the co-op. That’s not to say that the co-op wasn’t involved in a lot of really good work for a very long time, but as the outgoing CEO, Sally Jewell, once said, we kind of made a conscious switch from random acts of greenness to an organized approach to sustainable business. And I had the wonderful opportunity to kind of arrive right at that moment to design that program and help lead it across the organization.
Makower: So is your job focused more internally or was it focused on supply chain or was it focused on product design? Where did spend your time? Hagen: The whole portfolio was the big picture ¬— the strategic positioning of how and where REI should be focused. It started with some consultants, Brian and Mary Nattrass, who came to REI before I did — in 2005 or so — and started getting the organization thinking about a systemic way of looking at the world through the sustainability point of view. I picked up those pieces, helped the organization get our arms around all of the things that should be important to us. It was really about how to look across the organization for opportunities and risks that we might not have seen before because we were looking at things in a more conventional way.
Makower: What was driving REI’s need to step up its game?
Hagen: I think REI really cares and really wants to make a difference. People worked for the co-op because they want to work for something bigger than themselves. They want to be involved in something big, and they were the first ones to feel when they saw a gap between how we wanted to behave and what was actually happening in the world. So employees were the a primary driver early on. After that, it became the members. REI is a co-op, and so the almost 5 million members of the co-op were a driver. And then it was various other constituencies — the communities in which REI operates, various advocacy organizations, and other companies in the space. REI as a retailer has a kind of unusual space. As opposed to a brand, which has got a single identity, REI as a retailer represents all of the companies in the outdoor industry. And so I had a wonderful position of being the nexus, the hub of where everything came together between the consumer and the outdoor enthusiasts, and almost all the brands in the industry. They all go through REI at some point.
Makower: One of the things that strike me about the sector is how much cooperation and collaboration exists — through the Outdoor Industries Association and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, among others. I’m curious on your view of how effectively that collaboration has been.
Hagen: Collaboration is an excellent litmus test in my opinion, for how advanced or how sophisticated a company’s sustainability efforts are. I think there’s a lot of work that has to be done inside of an organization to be credible — to learn, to figure things out, to be walking the talk, if you will. But ultimately, what most organizations have discovered is that the problems and challenges and the opportunities are really too big for any one company to deal with, even if you’re Walmart, for example.
And so it really comes to collaboration as the mechanism by which some of the biggest things are being dealt with. The outdoor industry is an absolute model of that activity. Perhaps it’s because the industry is small enough, or it may be because the industry has a lot in common, all the outdoors folks and all the ways that people know each other off work. The environment of collaboration among outdoor companies has always been strong — competitive, of course, but always collaborative.
Makower: Do you think maybe it had something to do with the fact that your sector has to do with sports and teams and mountain climbing and even ultimate Frisbee, or other things where people play together and cooperate, and that creates a more participatory and collaborative environment?
Hagen: Maybe there’s something to that. I think there’s also something to the fact that the companies in the room had already worked on sustainability things for a long time. Patagonia had years and years of effort. Timberland, years of work. Nike, years of work. I think most of those companies really knew the problems, knew the challenges, but were also at that point starting to really see the opportunities: how product could be better, how we didn’t have to accept tradeoffs. We could make things better, cheaper, faster if we made them right in the first place. And I think that they started to realize that we could work together. And they saw that the supply chain was so big that none of us was going to be able to influence the cotton supply chain by ourselves, or the polyester supply chain, or the chemistry supply chain. So we needed to work together in order to get where we wanted to go.
Makower: What worked at REI in terms of things that you were able to do, and the things you learned along the way. Can you name a project that was particularly successful and impactful?
Hagen: I think real work started to happen when we got organized. We realized we required some frameworks — what became now the Higg Index out of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which has a set of lenses on environmental and social issues. That came from looking at the whole waterfront of this issue. How do we avoid unintended consequences by making sure we’re seeing everything? The first step was having a framework-based approach. I came away with five or six key things from that. The first one was that our intuition was almost always wrong. Every time we expected this or that to be the big thing, and when we really got to doing the homework, we found that there were other things that mattered more. So, for example, I thought the shipping was going to be a big part of our carbon footprint. Well, it was, but employee commuting turned out to be even bigger. I wasn’t expecting that. Now in retrospect, of course, it makes perfect sense. But it wasn’t obvious at first. I think the lesson out of that is that we’re all conventional thinkers to start with, and our intuition of business is based on conventional thinking. Very frequently, our intuition isn’t right, so we have to think in new ways through sustainability frameworks to be able to see the opportunities. The second thing I found was that metrics matter. Since our intuition couldn’t be trusted, we had to be able to measure things better. So getting organizational metrics on environmental characteristics helped drive our work.
Makower: What did you learn about how to assess the progress you were making?
Hagen: I came to appreciate the difference between incremental improvement and groundbreaking improvement. A lot of folks talk about incremental improvements as being not good enough, because slowing down the car on its way toward the cliff — from Bill McDonough’s metaphor — isn’t the right approach. However, by working on incremental improvements, we train the organization in new ways. We learn new skills, new competencies, and that opened our eyes to breakthrough opportunities as we started working on a new aspect — say, energy efficiency — and started making improvements. But then we realized that we could actually do things completely differently, like power the store from solar, and that was a breakthrough kind of thing. So I think that incremental improvements are really important, even if they’re not sufficient, because they set the organization up for understanding what real breakthroughs might be.
Makower: So, what’s next for you?
Hagen: I’m not sure yet. So far, it involves a lot of skiing at Whistler.
(Source: Smart Brief)
Biomass cookstove generates on-site power
Indian Energy Exchange sees oversupply of electricity; fall in trading volumes
Indicating sluggish power demand, Indian Energy Exchange saw a decline in electricity trading volumes in November even as the availability continued to remain high. The fall in volumes was mainly on account of the onset of winter in the northern region where the demand forelectricity fell as much as 25 per cent. November saw 2,481 MUs (million units) traded in the market, marking a decrease of around 6 per cent from the 2,645 MUs traded in October, IEX said in a statement today. Last month, total sell bids touched 4,239 MUs, while the buy bids were for around 3,660 MUs. According to the exchange, with winter season in northern India, the constituent states in the region traded almost 25 per cent less power in November compared to the previous month. “In the eastern region too, the demand reduced owing to heavy rainfall caused by cyclonic activities,” it said. Besides, congestion in transmission network restricted inter-regional flow of electricity. About 497 MUs of electricity in the day-ahead spot market was lost due to congestion last month, the statement said. “The volumes traded at the exchange could have been higher had it not been for severe transmission congestion, especially in the Southern corridor – between rest of India and the Southern region as well as in the Southern bid areas of S1 (Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka) and S2 (Tamil Nadu and Kerala),” it added. Meanwhile, the average market clearing price climbed to Rs 2.78 per unit in November, from Rs 2.71 recorded in the previous month. Source: Economic Times