Reducing our Carbon Footprint: Personal Accounts from the OnGen Team

May 29, 2020

OnGen was founded to help businesses tackle their carbon emissions through onsite renewables in a quick and accessible way. The largest problem of our generation is the climate crisis, which is why we have focussed our business on confronting this issue through renewable generation. However, our actions do not stop there; our team is committed to sustainability both in and outside of work.

Read further to find out how three of OnGen’s key employees have minimised their environmental footprints.

Emma – Account Manager

One of the ways Emma has focused on reducing her carbon emissions is through limiting car travel.

“It shocked me to find out that transport is the largest producer of carbon emissions in the UK, with a whopping 90% of the generated carbon emissions being created by road transport (UK Government). Short journeys have a large negative impact, as car emission reduction systems take a few minutes to activate, resulting in a burst of emissions during shorter journeys. Sometimes it is easy to pick the quickest option and drive from A to B but choosing to walk or cycle for smaller journeys can help reduce our carbon emissions while saving money.

I try to make environmentally conscious decisions to help limit my weekly road journeys. By living in Edinburgh, a beautiful and walkable city, I tend to look forward to my walks to work or into the centre as a chance to relax while listening to music or a podcast. Picking creative routes through green spaces or quiet streets help keep my walks interesting, as I notice something new on every journey and get to see some nature.

For longer journeys, I choose to use public transport or cycle when possible. The bus lanes in the city help make travelling by bus often quicker than driving and the journeys give me the opportunity to read a book or newspaper. Lothian Buses, the main bus company in Edinburgh, have high sustainability targets and operate zero-emission electric buses, making taking the bus an environmentally friendly option.

Although my favourite way to spend my weekends is hillwalking in the highlands, involving driving for 3 hours each way, I still try to limit the impact of my trips by carpooling with friends. Not only does the journey feel less wasted if split between 4-5 people, but it also allows for a more fun weekend than if I travelled by myself. However, as these journeys still add up to be a high volume of emissions over the year, I have chosen to go on some of my trips with a hillwalking club that offset their carbon emissions.

I know that these changes are more difficult out with the city and larger towns, but every car journey saved can help to make a big difference in reducing carbon emissions.”

Izzy – Senior Account Manager

Izzy has changed her diet, shopping habits and energy supplier to minimise her carbon emissions.

“Lately I have been focused on minimising my physical waste from things like packaging. Plastic pollution is an immense issue: at least 8 million pieces of plastic are entering oceans every day causing ingestion by marine animals, which kills more than 1.1. million seabirds and animals each year. Zero-waste stores are a great way to minimise your plastic waste by refilling containers with goods like pasta and rice, which you may normally buy in plastic bags. You may think that you don’t have the right containers, but you’ll be surprised how many glass jars you can collect after a while of not throwing them out. Zero-waste stores also tend to stock containers if you don’t manage to bring your own. Many of them also contain reusable toiletries such as alternatives to cotton products and harmful shampoos. In Edinburgh, there are 3 great zero-waste stores that I frequent, all of which have lovely staff who can help if you don’t know how to get started – don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know how to refill an item; everyone has been there! By switching my shopping habits, I have nearly eliminated all non-recyclable waste from my food and health shopping habits.

Cutting animal-based products is a great way to minimise your carbon footprint. Livestock production and animal agriculture are responsible for 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions, so trying to decrease consumption in this area can make an important positive impact. Some people may not find a strict vegetarian or vegan diet suitable and that’s okay – reduction and awareness is the most important part. If we all stuck to a diet of only one portion of red meat a week, greenhouse gas emissions related to food could be cut by 56% according to a study published in Nature. I like using cookbooks and online tutorials to inspire me to cook exciting vegetarian dishes.

I have also made the switch to a renewable energy provider for my flat. Although I wish I could install solar panels and ground source heat, I will need to wait until I own a house of my own. Until this is the case, sourcing energy from a renewable energy supplier is a great way to reduce my emissions. When choosing a supplier, ensure it is a ‘true green’ supplier, as suppliers can purchase green certificates for their non-green generation. Referrals for bulb and Octopus Energy also mean that you can get free money for switching to renewables – every time someone signs up with your link, both you and them get £50, which is a great scheme to incentivise the switch.”

Chris – Managing Director

Chris installed solar panels at his house in 2015 and is now looking to invest in further onsite renewable generation.

“My main motivation for installing panels was the energy cost savings I would achieve and the revenue from the Feed-in-Tariff.  Having assessed lots of solar PV opportunities for clients through my energy consultancy business, it was a no brainer to assess the opportunity when we moved to our current address.

My roof space wasn’t particularly suitable: despite being south facing, the building is B listed and shading was an issue.  Fortunately, my garage roof was almost ideal and 3.6kWp of Solar Edge panels were installed just before a big fall in the generation Feed-in-Tariff.

Four years later, the system has generated 10,000 kWh of electricity, saving me £1,200 in electricity bills and generating £1,650 in Feed-in-Tariff payments.  My initial investment will be paid off in less than 4 years.

Whilst reducing our carbon footprint was not my main objective in 2015, it is now: my solar panels have saved the equivalent of 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide already! Saving money and saving carbon are not mutually exclusive and I look forward to continuing to invest in sustainable measures.

The next technology options I am looking are a battery and heat pumps, both of which are now stacking up financially and will help reduce my house emissions further.”

Feeling inspired? Contact us to find out how you can maximise the sustainability of your energy consumption through onsite renewables.