Rising Costs And A Wounded Earth.
It’s 2023, the cost of living crisis in the UK continues to cause headaches for the millions of households and businesses who are struggling to keep warm and live their lives in the way they hoped1. Although a relatively mild winter and less reliance on Russian gas across Europe has meant that prices have been on the way down recently, they are still high and it is far from over2. These issues could be argued to be short-term when viewed from afar, but there is another, much more long-term issue, which can present long-term effects.
Climate change is a real issue, the verified, peer-reviewed, contextualised evidence supports that. Change to the Earth’s atmospheric composition as a result of human activity is contributing to the melting ice caps3, it’s affecting wildlife ecosystems across the globe4, it is causing a spike in wildfires in locations such as California and Australia5, it is leading to a breakdown of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia6.
Therefore, both households and organisations have to work accordingly to one another in the effort to reduce the excess amount of energy used (especially from sources that utilise hydrocarbons), and the amount of waste we produce and simply disregard.
In this article, we’ll discuss what Blaze Signs are doing to reduce their wasteful energy consumption, in their factories, offices, and on the road which forms part of our goals to become a net-zero carbon emissions business.
LED lighting first powered our signage – now it’s everywhere.
We began the switch from legacy forms of signage illumination such as fluorescent lighting in the 2010s, and now they are by far the dominant method of illuminating our clients retail signs. As we all know by now, LED bulbs have numerous energy saving benefits; including extremely low heat emissions, a much longer lifespan compared to other bulbs, and a lower energy input requirement to function at the same brightness as typical bulbs7.
The Blaze Signs facilities in both Broadstairs and Birmingham are currently transitioning to LED lighting technology to light up the offices and factories. A great amount of work has already been completed, and when complete, we will have saving money and reducing the amount of unusable waste that the business produces, a good movement for the environmental (and economic) impact of Blaze Signs.
Energy optimisation for our paint shop
The amount of energy needed to generate the heat in our Paint Shop that is required to cure all of our painted signage is immense, as a result, there were clear opportunities for optimisation and reduction of energy consumption on a regular basis.
Our operations and production functions worked together to introduce a new system that allows our massive ovens to only operate when they are at high capacity. The updated process allows us to switch the ovens on at later times and turn them off earlier than before.
Overall, we’re saving nearly 2 hours of on-time every single day, if you extrapolate that over the course of a year, the ovens are switched off for the equivalent of nearly 22 days of constant operation, a massive win for energy consumption and environmental impact!
Environmentally friendly commutes.
UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions hit over 406 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2020. Domestic transport was responsible for emitting 98 MtCO2e (million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent), which equates to nearly a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions in the UK per year8.
A great way to reduce our energy consumption and greenhouse gases contributions is to cut back on the use of personal transportation, especially if it’s an individual drive in a petrol/diesel powered car. Late in 2022, we introduced the new Cycle to Work scheme, available to all employees, in an effort to not only get people moving more, but to also provide the means to cut down on GHG emissions.
The majority of our work force in both Broadstairs and Birmingham live up to a 15-minute drive away, even during peak hours of traffic, and thus the prospect of cycling to work becomes more enticing given the distance.
The People&Planet Team
A group of employees from across the business, from operations, finance, production, design and everywhere in between were assembled to form the People&Planet team. Their mission is to ensure that Blaze Signs is a sustainable company in three regards – the environment, socially and in governance – using their knowledge and expertise to touch upon every facet of the company.
Participants in the People&Planet initiative were not invited or picked based on seniority, but rather on what they could bring to the table, ensuring that we get the most out of the group.
The goals and aims for each quarter and year aim to improve the environmentally impact of everything the business interacts with, and allows us to continuously improve on a consistent basis. Each member of the team brings with them their own perspective and original ideas, which can be implemented throughout the organisation, and with the collective trickle down to rest of the business.
Data Monitoring and Modelling
The businesses Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) team continuously collect and analyse data related to our energy use. The team, a diverse group of individuals from separate departments across the company, work together with a shared mission of improving the societal and ecological effects our business has on a local, national and international level.
With our data collection systems, we have a view on which parts of the organisation are using the most amount of energy, and with this information, we can propose new methods of reduction which keep the businesses operations running at the same level.
From our electricity usage and its source, the number of vehicles in our fleet and their mileage to what proportion of those are battery electric vehicles, there are a plethora of metrics – more that aren’t mentioned here – we can use to push Blaze Signs towards their goal of complete sustainability.
Effects & Summary
The result of the many little changes we make to the business is that our overall energy consumption decreases, a great move on the road to becoming a sustainable business, and allowing us to reduce costs and redirect them into other parts of the business that allow us to improve the lives of our customers and our employees.
Blaze Signs, and Hexcite as a whole, has a duty and responsibility to ensure we’re operating a business that is responsible for their electricity usage, and we’re proud to say that we are doing just that.
Explore the “Sustainability” section on our website with the button below, and please feel free to get in touch with the team here at Blaze to answer any questions you have.
- 1: ‘We’re being hammered’: cost of living crisis in one of England’s most deprived areas, The Guardian, 05 January 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/jan/05/cost-of-living-crisis-england-most-deprived-area-birmingham-hodge-hill
- 2: The energy crisis and Europe’s astonishing luck, The Economist, 14 January 2023, https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2023/01/11/the-energy-crisis-and-europes-astonishing-luck
- 3: Why are glaciers and sea ice melting?, WWF https://www.worldwildlife.org/pages/why-are-glaciers-and-sea-ice-melting#:~:text=Human%20activities%20are%20at%20the,sea%20and%20retreating%20on%20land.
- 4: Wildlife and Climate Change, National Park Service, 08 December 2021, https://www.nps.gov/articles/000/wildlife-climateimpact.htm#:~:text=Climate%20change%20has%20produced%20a,the%20environment%20for%20native%20wildlife.
- 5: Wildfires and Climate Change, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, https://www.c2es.org/content/wildfires-and-climate-change/
- 6: How does climate change affect coral reefs?, National Ocean Service (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), 20 January 2023, https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/coralreef-climate.html#:~:text=Climate%20change%20leads%20to%3A,to%20the%20smothering%20of%20coral.
- 7: Learn About LED Lighting, Energy Star, https://www.energystar.gov/products/lighting_fans/light_bulbs/learn_about_led_bulbs
8: 2020 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, 30 June 2022, https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/final-uk-greenhouse-gas-emissions-national-statistics-1990-to-2020