One step closer to Net Zero for Total Group thanks to LCW grant

An office relocation provides the ideal opportunity to reduce impact on the environment, with a £5,000 grant helping the company implement a range of changes including LED lighting, upgrading a hot water cylinder and installing solar blinds.

IT services and consulting business, Total Group, pride themselves on supporting their customers’ transition to the cloud, a process which leads to a reduction  in energy use. So when the opportunity arose to invest in ways to reduce their own energy consumption, Total decided to make the most of their impending office relocation in Pepperstock, Hertfordshire.

Sustainability a key business value driving Total Group forwards

“I have always been passionate about renewables and believe that it’s important for our business to be built around our values and ethics,” says Nathan Stewart, Managing Director of Total Group. “Ultimately, we want to get to a position of being carbon neutral. Our first step was to bring energy consumption down, so we started by thinking about how we would actually use the building.”

In order to make changes, Nathan researched business grants that could help pay for modifications as he had prior experience of researching domestic green grants for his home.

A £5,000 grant was awarded by the Low Carbon Workspaces programme to support the cost of the installation of LED lighting, a heat pump, insulation, solar blinds and the upgrade of a hot water cylinder.

Nathan found the process of applying for the Low Carbon Workspaces grant very straightforward and clear. “I was really impressed with how easy the process of applying for and receiving the grant funding was. Without the grant, we simply would not have been able to make the business justification to invest in the changes. Once settled in our new offices it would have been very disruptive to do so retrospectively, so the timing was perfect.”

Identifying potential savings is a crucial step

When considering where savings could be made, the first thing that jumped out to Total Group was a large hot water tank that would be constantly heating water unnecessarily. The business downsized from a 300 litre tank to a 30 litre electric hot water tank.

The business used some of the funding to invest in installing LED lighting, which is a timely change given that energy costs have jumped so much in the last year.

Installing solar blinds means that staff don’t need to switch the air conditioning on in the summer to cool the building, something Nathan estimates could save around £300 per month in the summer. They can even open doors when it’s warm for natural ventilation, an unexpected bonus during the pandemic when circulating fresh air indoors has become so important.

Self-sufficiency is the aim for Total Group

Total Group estimate that through the works carried out with the support of the grant, they will make savings of close to £4,000 per year due to a reduction in energy bills, as well as saving 4.5 tonnes of CO₂e per year.

The company’s aim is to reduce its overall energy consumption with a view to investing in Solar PV in the future. “Our long-term goal is to be completely self-sufficient from the grid and be Net Zero,” explains Nathan. “Ideally, we want to generate electricity onsite, and our roof space allows for 12 solar panels. Our focus is on reducing our energy consumption in the first instance.”

The team of 16 employees are now fully settled in the new office. It embodies many “green” principles, with its own filtered treatment pond, and even an Alexa system to ensure that the building lights and heating are powered down and up again every evening and morning, truly harnessing the power of technology to keep control of costs and ensuring thermal comfort for staff at the same time!

Staff have really engaged with the changes. It was timely, taking place around the same time as COP26, and handy, given the fact that the team often talk to their own customers about the benefits of reducing energy costs when moving data offsite and on to the cloud. The business put up posters to educate staff about the steps they were taking to reduce emissions and now the discussion about the “Race to Net Zero” is one that is had openly in the office, as well as with clients.

The passion for sustainability from everyone in the team really shines through in those conversations.

“Total Group are a great example of a business that is thinking long term about how to be more sustainable and are taking their employees on the journey with them,” said Jamie Gowers, Low Carbon Workspaces Project Officer.

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