How to Incorporate Solar Into Your Business’s Sustainability Strategy 

How to Incorporate Solar Into Your Business’s Sustainability Strategy 

Australian businesses are more united than ever in the fight against climate change, with 96 percent of companies backing the government’s target of net zero emissions by 2050, according to a survey by the Carbon Market Institute. Businesses contribute more than their fair share to greenhouse gas emissions, so it’s only fair that they be on the front line in the fight against environmental degradation. One of the best ways that you can reduce your business’s carbon footprint is by incorporating solar into your sustainability strategy. Solar energy has become a promising option in Australia as a result of falling prices and its availability in most parts of the country. However, being a costly and long-term investment, you need to come up with a well-thought-out plan on how to deploy solar power effectively. 

Start with an energy and waste audit 

An energy audit should be your first step before making any energy-saving improvements in your business, as well as before adding a solar power system to your business. An energy audit will help you gain a clear picture of how you use energy in your business; the total amount of energy you use, the amount of energy you waste, the areas where your business is losing energy, and the problem areas and fixes that need to be prioritised to make your business more energy efficient.

Knowing your energy requirements, you’ll have a good idea of the number of solar panels and batteries you need. While performing your energy audit, it’s also important to find out if there are other ways that your business is being wasteful or destructive to the environment. For example, all your efforts to install a solar power system may be futile if you are still contributing heaps of plastic waste to landfills. You can look for ways of minimising plastic waste in your business such as banning single-use plastics, encouraging homemade lunches, and promoting a recycling culture in your workplace. 

Work out your finances 

Solar power can be a costly investment, and your ability to deploy will depend on various factors unique to your business; availability of discretionary cash, size of the system, and your desire for fast, dramatic energy cost savings. If the cash is available, purchasing the solar power system outright is the best option since cash deals usually have a higher return on investment. However, cash deals require an upfront capital investment that may not be feasible for all businesses.

The good thing about solar energy is that it’s remarkably scalable. You can start small with a solar array that only contributes a fraction of your total energy requirements and build it out over time to cater for all your electrical needs. As you analyse your finances, don’t forget to factor in the incentives offered by the government. For example, if you are generating more power than you need, you can qualify for a feed-in tariff that pays you a sum of money for feeding energy back into the electricity grid. 

Determine how to deploy your solar power system 

You have various options on how to deploy your solar power system. The most popular option is installing solar panels on the roof of your business premises. If your property is not ideal for rooftop solar, you can install a ground-mounted solar power system instead. Another option that is slowly gaining traction in Australia is solar roof tiles, where you replace traditional roofing tiles with photovoltaic shingles that look and function like conventional roof tiles but have energy-producing capabilities. 

Switching to solar energy is not only good for the environment but also for your business’s bottom line. Businesses can save thousands of dollars annually in energy costs by switching to solar energy. On top of that, businesses that take sustainability seriously are gaining a competitive advantage over those who don’t as more consumers become eco-conscious. 

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What is Passive Solar and How Does It Work?

What is Passive Solar and How Does It Work?

With an increased focus on greener building and energy efficiency, the term “passive solar” is being used more and more. Not to be confused with solar panels, passive solar is the use of the natural environment in a way that will optimise the internal temperature of a home. Rather than relying heavily on mechanical cooling or heating systems, a passive solar design will instead focus on building in a way that encourages the retention of warmth in winter and the reflection of heat in summer.

A home with a well thought out solar design will collect heat from the sun and store it in the “thermal mass” of the building (dense materials like concrete and brick that retain heat). Engaging a builder who has experience in passive solar design will go a long way towards improving the energy efficiency of a new house, as passive solar designs will vary based on what climate the home is situated in. Typical methods for improving passive solar include:

  • South Facing Windows: To make the most of the suns natural warmth, windows in the main living areas should face towards the south and be free of shading during the winter months when the sun is lower. If the roof overhang is correctly sized, then this will block excessive heat during the warmer months (when the sun is higher); alternatively, the installation of an awning or shutters can have a similar effect.
  • Thermal Mass: Building materials with thermal mass will absorb heat during the day and then release it slowly at night when the temperature drops. A well-insulated home with products such as brick, masonry or concrete (all commonly used in construction) will assist with warming the house in winter and cooling it down in summer.
  • Energy Efficient Windows: Some people may express concern that installing windows will be counterproductive to passive solar design, but this is not necessarily the case. Energy efficient windows block ambient outside temperature (whether it is cold or hot), while still allowing radiant heat to pass through. This means that a home with energy efficient windows will still benefit from winter sunlight, but with reduced heat loss in winter and improved retention of warmth in winter.

A home with optimal passive solar design will be comfortably cool in summer, warm and cozy in winter and obtain a good deal of sunlight all year round. Although a greater level of energy efficiency can be achieved when passive solar is a consideration before a home is built, existing houses can still benefit from these concepts. Simple and effective steps such as installing shutters, upgrading window glazing or increasing insulation can all contribute to an improved passive solar design. Although some of these tasks could be completed by homeowners, engaging the services of a professional may save time and money in the long run.

Houses that are constructed with a passive solar design will effectively reduce the need to rely on mechanical heating and cooling systems, thereby lowering power usage, minimising utility bills and benefiting the environment.

Solar windows are seeing a massive boost in popularity as the technology improves. We’re looking forward to see where the tech is going for this and also passive renewable energy. 

 

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