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Posts by Ramon Arratia

UK quietly slashes millions of tonnes of emissions

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Sandbag recently released this article reviewing emissions targets and what action has been taken in the UK. They look at what is really going on in emissions trading and encourage lobbying to ensure fewer permits are handed out. They also buy up the permits already on the market, and destroy them.

“With little fanfare, the UK government cancelled 36 million tonnes of carbon pollution rights in May. These carbon allowances relate to the UK’s carbon budgets and cover emissions outside the ETS that could otherwise have been banked forward into future budgets. With the stroke of a pen this eliminates more greenhouse gas emissions than the country’s two largest coal-fired power stations emit each year. At Sandbag we’re hopeful that this act, plus cancellation of HFC carbon credits in the Netherlands, on the Shenzhen carbon market, and others, sets a precedent for the cancellation of enormous surplus of allowances on the EU ETS.”

Read how Sandbag broke the full story here.



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Here comes the sun – Solar Energy

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Top Documentary Films have posted this video on their site focussing on solar energy.

“If it were up to the sun, we would have no energy problem. Every half hour on the Earth’s surface, there is more than enough light to provide energy needs for the whole world in a year. We don’t have an energy problem, we have a conversion problem. If we are able to harvest sunlight in smart way, then we can prevent a global energy crisis.

That sounds nice but that does not mean it will succeed, at least that is what many different bodies want us to believe. It’s too expensive, takes too much space, too much material, it costs more energy than it brings, and it is still not efficient enough. While all these doubts play a role for solar energy in the distant future, it is still a marginal player in the global energy game. Back-light takes the edge off these myths and shows that a solar economy is much closer than we think. Next year, there are already rolling Giga Watts of solar cells on the conveyor belt. The industry has mastered the technology and the machines.

Radical German government measures have proved that it is possible. Villagers have completely installed solar power on empty lands. Power stations contribute to the network and where they are deserved. Many countries follow the German example: The Americans have their Grand Solar Plan and the French President Sarkozy is talking about a solar plan with the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. According to the Spanish electricity producers, oil companies will be left out. So what energy crisis? The sun is coming!”

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The Interface Pop-Up Showroom

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Interface is preparing to create a stir in Bristol with its latest business innovation – a pop-up showroom.

Over the next few months, customers will be able to visit the showroom to see the company’s latest product collections and sustainability services in situ and attend a series of events.

Congratulations to Tony Ward (@tonyinterface) and the team.

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What percentage of the investment required for our 2030 energy needs will be in renewables?

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This week has seen several articles like this one from The Climate Group exploring what $ investment amount is currently required to meet our energy needs in 2030. Most importantly, citing what percentage of that figure will be invested in renewables.

Global Power Generation BNEF

It’s been proposed that two thirds of the near $8 Trillion required (that’s eight with twelve zeros) will go on renewables. That is still too conservative! If you reverse the figures that’s still a very uncool $2.5Tn spent on the wrong side of the fence.

More must, and in reality, will be invested in renewables.


* The political landscape is sliding aggressively towards climate policies that will affect real change where it’s most required. This proposed ruling from the EPA in the USA is a prime example.

* We can crack the energy storage conundrum. It’s highly likely with current breakthroughs and smart-grids. Plus if Graphene lives up to its promises, then expect step jumps in storage and transmission technologies in the very near future.

* Will coal be around and viable by 2030? Why invest in obsolescence?

* The cost of renewables has already hit marketable levels. This article from the Huffington Post highlights key elements from solar.

It won’t be long before ‘alternative’ energy is simply labelled – Energy.

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#Interface at #Consense – The sustainable building trade fair

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Consense - The sustainable building trade fairConsense – The international trade fair and congress for sustainable building, investment, operations and maintenance exhibited over the last few days in Stuttgart.

It’s a chance to meet the leaders from across the world of sustainability. The joint offer of trade fair and congress makes Consense a cross-sector knowledge platform. Companies present the latest materials, products and construction systems. Experts discuss current issues regarding sustainable building, investment, operation and maintenance.

Interface had a stand with a novel way of getting our message across! What better way to take the transparency message to our customers and opinion leaders than having the EPD results of various products inside real ice? This is EPDs on the rocks!

Consense Sustainable Building Ice 2 Consense Sustainable Building Ice Consense Interface Sustainable Building Ice Consense Sustainable Building Ice 1

Of course the message of transparency is all very well on its own but much stronger when accompanied by a real world product to prove performance.  So we previewed Microsfera, our product with the lowest carbon footprint in the market (by far) – 3kgCO2/m2 cradle to gate.

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The embodied impact of cement

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Corporate Sustainable Development Report 2013

The publication of Holcim’s sustainability report has made me think about the high embodied impacts that cement brings. Some progress is under way but it is not enough.

Here are the numbers:

Cement production is highly energy intensive. The energy to make one tonne of clinker was 3466MJ in 2013, a reduction from 4500MJ in 1990. But production has increased significantly. For example Holcim’s cement production has increased by almost 120% since 1990 and even energy from coal and pet coke has increased by 25% despite a 14% use of waste as an alternative fuel. So cement growth for Holcim is pushing for 25% growth in coal and pet coke.

The most worrying part is that Holcim is actually the best in the industry (lowest carbon intensity) with net emissions of 572kg of CO2 per tonne of cement.

They aim to reduce that by 25% by 2015 and are on track.

The cement industry could be much more ambitious. It’s easy to point fingers when we have achieved a 90% absolute reduction but that’s not my point. They have instant options, for example – they could reduce the reliance on clinker by using slag from blade furnaces and other alternative materials.

Outside of the industry there is a compelling argument to reduce the demand for cement. Buildings can be designed so that they use less cement and still deliver decent thermal mass and high insulating values. This offers huge opportunities and much more scope for innovation. Architects, urban planners and infrastructure developers have the biggest leverage.

That obviously cannibalises the cement industry but it also offers opportunity to a new business model that sells less tonnes and more value. Innovations at product level that lead to premium products and services will have to be the key driver to decarbonise the cement industry.

Source: Holcim’s sustainability report 

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Energy Security and the 2030 Climate & Energy Package Report

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The Advisory Council I of the Green Growth Platform has released this report pointing to the benefits of a low carbon union. This group of advisors from esteemed international organisations, some members of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and academic experts makes a number of recommendations to Ministers and their governments in the run up to the European Council energy security discussions next week. There’s more about the stakeholders and their vision throughout the CISL website.

Click on the image to download the report:

Energy Security Report

 The low carbon union has also been captured neatly in this infographic:

Low Carbon Energy Union Infographic Final


Here is some of the press surrounding the initiatives:

Bloomberg – “The European Union needs an ambitious emissions-reduction goal, targets for energy-efficiency and renewables as well as tools to foster investment under its planned 2030 policies, an advisory panel to 14 ministers said.”

Business Green – “Green Growth Group urges EU to revamp energy security strategy”

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The #Circular50 – #Sustainability Influencers

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DS Smith, Ecobuild and UBM have partnered to sponsor Resource – an exhibition and conference that connects the whole supply chain – extraction, design, recycling, manufacturing, retail and resource recovery to capitalise on the commercial opportunities of a circular economy. It’s on at Excel, London, March 2015.

As part of the build up, the organisers are looking for what they call the #Circular50 - the ultimate list of top 50 Twitter influencers in the circular economy community.

The #Circular50 is now open for nominations and they are gathering entries from all circular economy-oriented Twitter users, including manufacturers and service providers, end-users and industry organisations, as well as print and online media and bloggers.

To nominate simply tweet the following:

“I’m nominating @twitterhandle for the #Circular50 list of top 50 influential #circulareconomy Twitter accounts. ”

and replace @twitterhandle with the name of the Twitter account you are nominating. Keep an eye on the Leaderboard.

A resource constrained world demands new thinking and new business models, this event allows senior business leaders to network throughout the supply chain and discover forward thinking solutions for closed loop business strategies. More about Resource by clicking on the image below.



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How Nestlé reduced its energy use by 36% per tonne of product

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Next Manufacturing Revolution have pulled together a great resource including key points and collateral regarding Nestlé’s energy efficiency drive. The headline is this video which explains the £1.9B p.a. energy saving opportunity available to UK manufacturers, and how Nestlé made substantial energy efficiency improvements.

Despite ongoing improvements in energy use, the Next Manufacturing Revolution study identified Energy Efficiency as a major opportunity for UK manufacturers worth:

* £1.9B p.a. in cost savings
* 19.2 MtCO2e in greenhouse gas emission savings
* 3,500 new skilled full time jobs

Manufacturing generates directly 10% of the UK’s GDP and employs 2.5 million people (9% of the employed labour force). Labour productivity improvements in the sector have reduced labour costs since 2001 at a rate of 3% p.a. to £75bn in 2011, a reduction of 1,000,000 jobs.

The NMR study presents opportunities to improve non-labour resource productivity which could enable a revolution in manufacturing and are estimated, conservatively, to be worth for the UK:

Tri-Benefits from the Next Manufacturing Revolution

For more great insights visit

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Understanding sustainability fundamentals

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I’m proud to be involved with The Business & Sustainability Programme Online (BSP Online). It’s an engaging, interactive programme designed for mid-career, high-potential and senior managers to enable them to understand the fundamentals of sustainability, how sustainability is relevant to their role and its importance to business success. It is also suitable for sustainability professionals who would like to refresh their knowledge.

CISL has a 25-year track record in designing programmes to build leaders’ understanding and capacity in relation to the complex and interconnected economic, social and environmental issues that organisations face. This includes a ten-year history in online learning with Chronos, the first corporate sustainability e-learning programme, developed with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and launched in 2003. The Business & Sustainability Programme Online is a new standalone CISL programme, which builds on CISL‘s track record and experience, and draws on leading practice in online learning.

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