Heat Pumps

My daughter switched her heating and hot water to a ground source heat pump in January. Previously her heating was using Calor gas, As part of the switch she has had under floor heating installed throughout her barn conversion. At the time it seemed a very expensive switch but with the massive hike in gas prices and the possibility of supply shortages it was a timely decision.

The installation is 3 vertical 100 metre tubes 8 metres apart so it didn’t require a vast area of ground to install and is much more reliable than air source heat pumps which are not as effective when external temperatures are low.

This change is a good way to commit to helping reduce the impact of climate change.

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Helping to reduce climate change

as part of the approach to achieving certification to ISO14001, the International Environmental Management Standard, companies have to carry out an environmental aspect impact audit. For most companies this means they have to assess their impact on 6 areas of risk. These are;- (1) Emissions to air; (2) releases to water; (3) production of waste materials; (4) Land contamination; (5) use of raw materials and natural resources including energy and water and (6) local community issues such as noise and light pollution.

Having identified the categories with the highest impact the company needs to set itself impact reduction targets which should be meaningful , measurable and achievable. The business should regularly review, at least annually, performance against these targets and also review the overall aspect impact audit and adjust the risks when changes have taken place.

A legal register listing all the environmental legislation and regulations the company is required to comply with needs to be produced and, as part of the aspect impact audit, an assessment of how large an impact the company has on each of the listed laws and regulations.

The provision of the audit report forms part of the evidence required for the external assessment carried out on behalf of the approved certifying company. Once the company has achieved ISO14001 certification the company is able to promote this as part of their marketing clearly demonstrating their commitment to reducing their impact on climate change.

ISO14001

Compared with the demand for ISO9001 certification there is a much lower demand for ISO14001 certification. Why is this?

With the requirement of the ISO14001 Standard that a full environmental impact audit is carried out to assess the areas where companies have most affect on the environment I would have expected companies to go for ISO14001 certification as a means of demonstrating to their customers and other stakeholders in thee business their commitment to the environme evnt.

Yet even after lockdown, as companies are getting their businesses back to the pre Covid 19 pandemic levels, there seems to be little evidence that SME businesses are keen to achieve ISO14001 certification..

The need for integrated management systems

When the 2015 versions of ISO9001 and 14001 were published the framework used for all new versions of ISO standards was unified. This meant that an integrated management system covering both ISO9001 and ISO14001 (including the more recently issued ISO45001) could be implemented for both those companies going for initial certification and also companies already certified to both these standards.

Companies that have certification to ISO9001 should be considering adding certification to ISO14001 because by achieving certification to this Environmental Management standard they will be able to demonstrate to their existing and potential future customers that the company is committed to reducing the company’s impact on climate change and also to sustainability.

The need for integrated management systems

When the 2015 versions of ISO9001 and 14001 were published the framework used for all new versions of ISO standards was unified. This meant that an integrated management system covering both ISO9001 and ISO14001 (including the more recently issued ISO45001) could be implemented for both those companies going for initial certification and also companies already certified to both these standards.

Companies that have certification to ISO9001 should be considering adding certification to ISO14001 because by achieving certification to this Environmental Management standard they will be able to demonstrate to their existing and potential future customers that the company is committed to reducing the company’s impact on climate change and also to sustainability.

The need for integrated management systems

When the 2015 versions of ISO9001 and 14001 were published the framework used for all new versions of ISO standards was unified. This meant that an integrated management system covering both ISO9001 and ISO14001 (including the more recently issued ISO45001) could be implemented for both those companies going for initial certification and also companies already certified to both these standards.

Companies that have certification to ISO9001 should be considering adding certification to ISO14001 because by achieving certification to this Environmental Management standard they will be able to demonstrate to their existing and potential future customers that the company is committed to reducing the company’s impact on climate change and also to sustainability.

Hydrogen powered vehicles versus electric powered vehicles

The drive to replace all fossil fuelled vehicles with electric power drive systems is hiding a number of issues that will need to be resolved.

First is the supply of rechargeable batteries and the supply of of Lithium and Cobalt to manufacture them. As these batteries are likely to gradually reduce their power storage capacity over a time period of not more than 5 years what will be the costs of recycling the scrap batteries?

Second the very high concentration of demand for electricity as people recharge their batteries when they return from work. In addition there will be safety risks resulting from cables connecting cars to home charging points. This will be a much greater risk on dark nights in the winter.

Hydrogen as a fuel for powering vehicles will be possible with modifications to the engine similar to those done to enable vehicles to run on LPG. Whist there are 2 main production routes for Hydrogen the process using electrolysis is more climate friendly; particularly if the manufacturing process used can be switched to using excess solar and wind power when not needed for the national grid. Whilst most of current hydrogen production is derived from fossil fuels and hence generates waste gases there is a move towards using electrolysis as more emphasis is placed on reducing climate impact.

Another area where hydrogen could benefit is its use for domestic heating boilers which can be modified to run on hydrogen. This will be beneficial for heating properties where it will not be possible to install ground or air sourced heat pumps.

The provision of Hydrogen filling stations for vehicles is in its infancy; however a UK company has plans to speed up the provision of these stations. Hence from a convenience point of view hydrogen powered vehicles could be a better option than electric.

Approved Suppliers

I am often asked by my clients why they need to have a register of approved suppliers. It is important to remember that ISO9001 applies to all sizes of business from the 1 man operations, SMEs and larger companies

Whilst it may not be relevant for small companies in which only one person is responsible for Purchasing, these companies are aiming to grow the business and in doing so the number of employees grows also. Hence it is very important that from the outset a register of approved suppliers is created and that there is a formal process in place for approving additional suppliers before they are added to the register.. All personnel in the business, who are involved in sourcing products, materials and services for the company, should fully understand that only those companies on the approved register should be sourced from.

There are 2 exceptions to this. The first is where a customer specifies the supplier to be used for their product(s) and the second is where a new supplier is on trial. .In the latter case the trial must be properly monitored and evaluated before adding the supplier to the register when the trial has been concluded successfully..

Understanding net zero carbon

The targets set by the PM to have net zero carbon by various dates in the not too distant future are all very newsworthy but do the MPs really understand the concept. These targets may sound realistic but if the implications and costs of the actions that will have to be taken to get even close to the target were clearly identified to and understood by the general public then the vast majority would be horrified.

The vast sums of money which have been borrowed during the pandemic could well be exceeded in financing the infrastructure enhancements needed to achieve net zero carbon. The switch to green energy sources for power production for electric powered vehicles and manufacturing processes will have to be streamlined.

Also the supply of metals such as lithium and cobalt are not immediately available in the quantities that will be required for the solid state batteries that power electric vehicles. Currently a major % of these metals originates from China so there is an immediate need to expand the output of these metals in parts of the world where China has less influence. As typically it can take more than 5 years to from identifying a potential mining source to achieving significant output from a mine there is a significant threat to battery supply.

The development of Hydrogen as a fuel for vehicles and heating as well as a fuel for Power Stations is an option which should be seen as a viable addition to the available options for working towards net zero carbon especially as there are no nasty emissions resulting from its use as a fuel (only water vapour).

Assessing strategic and process risks

As part of the requirements for ISO9001 2015, Section 6 is entitled Planning and Section 6.1 is entitled “Actions to address risks and opportunities”.

There are two areas of risk; firstly strategic risks and secondly process risks. Companies have to identify the different types of risks that fall into these categories and assess both the likelyhood that an identified risk will happen and the impact of the risk. One effective way of doing this is to rate the likely occurrence and the impact on a scale of 1to10 where 1 is very low and 10 is very high. For each of the risks i suggest that the 2 numbers are multiplied together and for those with the highest results the company should have in place an action plan including timescale to reduce the likelyhood and/or impact of the risk.. These risk assessments should be documented together agreed action plans

a regular review of progress on these action plans plus ongoing review of all the risks identified should be carried out and In addition a review of whether any new strategic and process risks have been identified…