Russell Craig – CTO Microsoft New Zealand – Discusses with David Spratt at Total Utilities the cost and business case for Sustainability.

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Russell Craig – CTO Microsoft New Zealand – Discusses with David Spratt at Total Utilities the cost and business case for Sustainability.

Russell Craig – CTO Microsoft New Zealand – Discusses with David Spratt at Total Utilities the cost and business case for Sustainability.

A recent Microsoft report on New Zealand’s sustainability performance shows that more than three quarters of NZ businesses now have carbon reduction plans and policies. But that’s where the green wave crashes into a wall – and uncertainty about costs is a major factor. According to Microsoft’s ‘Accelerating the Journey to Net Zero’ report, two related reasons stand out as to why businesses are failing to meet their targets. One is that businesses are unsure how to monitor their emissions, giving them no clear baseline or way to chart their progress. The other is cost. But as Total Utilities Sustainability Director, David Spratt, argues in a recent Microsoft article outlining the report findings, you have to consider the cost to your business of not transforming and the opportunity to increase market share if you do. While the report found that only 43 percent of NZ organisations have the financial resources needed to execute their carbon reduction policies – that’s assuming they’ve made accurate calculations. It’s hard to make a clear business case and create a roadmap for change without the right facts and figures. There are also significant disparities between sectors when it comes to making these estimates. Decarbonisation – cost vs value David points out that businesses need to look past simple upfront investments as many calculations relating to sustainable ‘costs’ ignore the significant efficiency gains that can be made. He referenced a manufacturing customer of Total Utilities who was looking to purchase a new transformer worth $1 million. Yet by placing IoT sensors in its factories to measure the actual demand on the system, Total Utilities demonstrated that significant efficiencies could be made that meant the transformer wasn’t needed. As David observed, implementing a well-researched sustainability plan can actually save on both utilities and capex costs. “We had another client, a construction firm, who put in bids for five major projects. Every single one of their clients wanted to know their sustainability credentials, and when they visited other builders’ websites, those credentials were on the home page. Sustainability, and communicating what actions you’ve taken to achieve this, have become essential to doing business in the sector.” He explains that businesses also have to consider their employer brand, in view of today’s skills shortages. People are looking for employers whose values align with theirs, and in many cases, who are actively demonstrating their progress on sustainability and decarbonisation. “When we talk about investing in sustainability, we’re not just talking about environmental sustainability but business sustainability – your ability to retain staff and customers, and their perception that your business is viable into the future,” says David. Get with the programme Another major reason that businesses predict they’ll fail to meet their decarbonisation targets is that they are unsure how to monitor their emissions, giving them no clear baseline or way to chart their progress. At Total Utilities, we have dramatically pivoted our business model over the past few years from supporting businesses to monitor and reduce their utility overheads from gas, water, electricity and cloud consumption – to using that data to measure your carbon footprint and support a sustainable transition. Our evolution reflects the fact that in recent years decarbonisation has moved from something just a few, ‘eco-conscious’ businesses or big emitters have focused on, to being embraced by the majority of NZ businesses. The government’s Climate Change Response Act enshrining the net zero carbon by 2050 target in law, as well as a raft of other legislation and consumer demand, have added further pressure to address climate change. The message to NZ business is clear – get with the programme or get left behind. There’s no doubt achieving net zero carbon will require significant investment and commitment right across the board. But turning New Zealand’s poor performance around relies on rapidly turning the tide on our mindset about cost vs value of decarbonisation. Need help calculating and reducing your carbon footprint? We’re here to help! Contact us at Total Utilities. Sign up below for Total Utilities Market Commentary to receive all the latest market news and insights. Subscribe to our Market Commentary * indicates required Email Address * First Name Last Name Company     (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames='text';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true);

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Knowledge is power with Total Utilities Market Commentary

Staying ahead in business is often about being the first, being the best or doing something that no-one else has thought about.  But being the best demands an ability to gather accurate, independent and reliable information in an increasingly complex world. Total Utilities Market Commentary will help provide you with all the insights and tools you need to take immediate steps to get the very best deal on your utility prices, while simultaneously leading the way with sustainability best practice. We collate market research and trends to help you navigate volatile energy markets and make better, more informed decisions.  As an independent voice in the market, we strive to deliver holistic insights and advice so that you are better equipped to deal with the changing environment in which we operate.  ‘The purpose of information is not knowledge. It is being able to take the right actions.’ Peter F. Drucker So says founding father of modern business, Peter F. Drucker. Total Utilities Market Commentary helps ensure you have the right information to support the right actions now. We continuously track utility prices in relation to prevailing market conditions so that armed with this knowledge, you can take immediate action to optimise your energy procurement strategy. No vested interests As an independent voice in the market, we have no vested interests other than to strive to deliver comprehensive insights and advice. We have been tracking price trends in the energy market since deregulation began and have a comprehensive understanding of the various drivers in the market. We also keep fully abreast of policy and regulation changes to ensure we pass on all the strategic advantages from our independent analysis As with all things in life, the right actions are not necessarily the easiest or the most straightforward. But we are passionate about providing you with the knowledge to not only leverage the best deals with your utilities, but also to take action now to assist you with decarbonisation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Cleaner, greener business Paritutu Rock in New Plymouth, New Zealand At the COP26 summit in 2021, NZ signed up to an agreement to reduce emissions by 50% at 2030 compared to 2005 levels, meaning decarbonisation is no longer a ‘nice to have’ - but critical to future proofing your business. Sustainable business is about more than just reducing your impact on the environment. Businesses who can create circular economies – i.e., those who save money by eliminating waste and reinvesting in further savings activities - can achieve deep sustainability and lay the foundations for long-term success. With expertise and guidance provided by our Market Commentary, you can ensure you are reading the latest information regarding competitive energy pricing and make savings to help fund your decarbonisation journey. And that is most certainly the right action. Sign up below for Total Utilities Market Commentary to receive all the latest market news and insights. #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; width:600px;} /* Add your own Mailchimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */ Subscribe to our Market Commentary * indicates required Email Address * First Name Last Name Company (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames='text';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true);

Seeking ways to minimise waste and save money?

What you need to know and how we can help.  It’s no secret that the world is facing a waste crisis. How to reduce it, pay for it, its impact on our public and planet’s health, and where it ends up are just some of the concerns we’re grappling with.  The good news is, Total Utilities can help you identify, monitor, and reduce your waste. Here’s why engaging us as your waste management consultant is so important.  Waste is costly for our planet and business Our growing waste problem is not only costly to the environment but expensive for businesses. New Zealand faces rising transport and disposal costs, changes to national policy and levies, and uncertainty around where to export our recycling when we don’t have the facilities to handle it here.    The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), our government’s primary climate change response, plays a leading role in how we collectively manage waste and reach our internationally established targets. Our 2030 target, which is New Zealand’s first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement, is as follows: “our net emissions will be 30 per cent below 2005 (or 11 per cent below 1990) gross emissions for the period 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2030.” Waste is a specified activity under the ETS, so those in the waste sector must participate in the scheme. This means disposal facility operators must report their emissions to the government. They need to pay for permits to emit carbon and can offset their emissions. Land disposal facilities have options: they can either decarbonise their activities, face mounting costs, or offset their emissions by supporting climate action projects like forestry and conservation.   The most cost-effective and sustainable path for landfill facilities is to find ways to reduce their emissions. The government incentivises these facilities to find and deliver innovation and efficiencies by becoming eligible to apply for a Unique Emissions Factor. You can read about this here. Waste levy increases Growing pressure to address climate change, the uncertainty surrounding recycling commodity returns and stricter separation and hygiene standards are all factors behind the government’s decision to raise waste levies.  The levy increase will be phased in over four years, the first of which happened in July 2021. Levies will increase to a maximum of $60 per tonne by 2024. These increases are designed to encourage more recycling and to divert waste from landfills. The costs apply regardless of which waste supplier you choose.  Based on the average industry wage, the cost increase would equate to an additional $22 per 4.5m³ front-end load pick up. We’re investigating with each supplier how this cost will be passed on.  The big issue: Spoiled or contaminated recycling In a 2018 Stuff article, Green Party MP, Eugenie Sage, who was the Associate Environment Minister at the time said, “The co-mingling of waste like glass, paper and plastic was what led China to stop accepting it.”  One solution is to improve the quality of our waste by changing our behaviour – getting better at sorting and separating our waste at the source. Countries no longer taking some recyclables creates greater uncertainty  Now that the Chinese market doesn’t accept specific categories of recyclables, costs have grown significantly. The Chinese government also signalled to reduce its annual cardboard recycling quota by six million tonnes (10% of global demand). This means the cardboard price will drop further – it’s a market characterised by extreme pricing uncertainty. China’s ban had a massive ripple effect on where millions of tonnes of waste ended up. Indonesia bore the substantial brunt of this.   In late 2019, the Indonesian government was looking to pass urgent legislation which would allow them to legally return spoiled recycling back to the port of origin, not the last port of call.  Indonesia has now closed its market to recycling and has indicated it would only re-open if spoiled waste could be sent back to the country of origin. How the tightening of global spoilage standards will affect us. Stricter global spoilage standards will affect the ongoing rates for recycling in New Zealand. The market has not priced all these factors in yet. Under the current uncertain climate, suppliers are unable to fix pricing for recycling. How Total Utilities can help you navigate the costs and changes. By working closely with our specialist waste consulting partners, suppliers, and customers, you can achieve reduced waste charges and levies, improved monitoring and reporting of your waste systems, and ultimately send less waste to landfill. This is a win for your bottom line and the environment.  Navigating the waste environment alone is complicated – it takes a deep understanding of the political, environmental, and global trends and policies. We expect that what happens to our waste will continue to be complex for many years to come.  Total Utilities has a finger on the pulse of policy, pricing and procurement. We can effectively interpret the changes and identify smart ways for you to contribute towards a more efficient, greener, cleaner planet.  That’s good for everyone.

Get your head in the cloud

Why cloud is crucial for a sustainable business, and how to choose the best option. The Covid-19 outbreak has reinforced two lessons for businesses – the importance of cloud-based services and the need to ensure their model is sustainable. Cloud platforms have really come into their own, providing accessibility for remote workers and customers, while providing the ultimate scalability for businesses facing an uncertain future. But in a world where both the economy and environment are facing unprecedented challenges, it is more vital than ever for business owners and CFOs to make informed business decisions. Choosing the right cloud option can be daunting, and a truly sustainable business needs a clear understanding of the financial and business case drivers to help make the right decisions. Review the business model Changes are happening at a rapid pace in today’s business environment, with many companies looking at downsizing and improving their remote working capabilities. Even beyond the extremes of a pandemic, acquisitions, new ventures, upturns and downturns all provide daily challenges for senior managers. Over the last few years, the focus of major decision-makers has moved away from in-house tech infrastructure and experts and towards more flexible and agile cloud models and platforms like Microsoft Azure that best fit their way of working. Before making any investment in IT infrastructure or platforms, ask whether they can adapt if your business needs change in the future. Nothing illustrates how quickly the business environment can change as the infographic below. The infographic shows the vast drop in consumption of electricity since Covid-19 hit New Zealand. Many businesses were unable to operate from their normal offices and stores. While most have adapted to working from home, the shutdown had a huge impact on commercial electricity consumption. While major industry consumes a third of all our energy, the wider commercial sectors consume a further quarter of New Zealand’s electricity demand. It is this quarter that we can reasonably assume to have almost completely evaporated when the lights went off. Although the future is opening up and consumption is starting to rebound, businesses are now focused on new ways of consuming energy or delivering services. Many CFOs and CIOs are trying to figure out this new way of working and how it affects their own businesses. The days of the road warrior salesperson may be coming to an end. How we engage with, incentivise and add value to our clients will look very different, as some may prefer a call from the office or a virtual meeting to a corporate lunch. Customers too will be feeling the impact, with online engagement becoming the predominant form of communication, and Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Hangouts becoming an integrated part of working culture. In addition, Covid-19 has caused a large shift in the global economy and supply chain. Secure production and supply are increasingly of greater importance than the cheapest or most efficient options, which has led to a greater focus on in-house production, multiple suppliers or regional stockpiling. The result of all this is we can no longer trust the stability of the surrounding environment. While we may see some return to the old ways of working, some business processes will never be the same again. Business managers therefore need to be prepared to constantly review business models and consider whether their technology needs are still being met by their current system. This will help ensure their business remains sustainable in a world that can change drastically in what seems like a second. Plan for the rebound Businesses are now furiously planning ahead for the future. Many will need to start scaling up or down to stay on track with fluctuating demand. Working through the challenges including staffing, supply chain logistics, stock management and managing demand will impact most businesses, not to mention the increasing expectation they will reduce their environmental footprint. Kiwifruit producer Zespri is a classic example of how to approach this kind of situation. In 2010, it was dealing with the PSA Virus, which caused entire crops of kiwifruit to fail. The popular gold kiwifruit was the most affected variety, spurring Zespri scientists to research a resistant strain. They knew the situation could have gone either way – with the opportunity to double production if the new strain was successful or ultimately halve if the research failed. Zespri was concerned about having enough computing power to cover existing demand while preparing for both the best- and worst-case scenarios. With support from Total Utilities to assess its existing IT costs and consumption, Zespri was given a list of options that projected the business outcomes and costs for each. It could either continue managing and maintaining its own data centre, outsource its data to another local vendor, or switch to the public cloud so it could replicate the same platforms around the world. Zespri chose the latter, moving its infrastructure and associated platforms onto the Microsoft Azure Cloud. This decision helped Zespri cover a multitude of potential problems by removing the financial risk of investing in its own tech infrastructure, allowing rapid expansion of a global supply chain and delivering detailed cost control mechanisms. Providing Zespri with financial operations toolsets allowed it to efficiently manage costs and consumption, which was repaid as Zespri’s research gamble paid off and the business grew in scale. Measures such as “cost per tray of kiwifruit shipped” have become an important way of tracking success. Zespri has used subscription cloud services as an effective way to manage, analyse and contain its costs ever since. Not only does that mean Zespri is able to adapt its model to any scenario, not having a data centre on site reduces both energy consumption and space. The business is therefore more sustainable in every sense of the word – something consumers around the world increasingly expect. Microsoft itself has committed to removing all carbon it has ever emitted directly or by energy consumption from the environment by 2050, reinforced by its pledge to support New Zealand’s sustainability goals through its new datacentre investment. As every organisation on the planet is challenged to review its impact on the environment, choosing greener IT options is a great way to minimise your footprint. As the adage goes, the only certainty in life is change. While an upfront investment during downturns can be daunting, the best way for any business to safeguard its sustainability long-term is to invest in an IT system that doesn’t become obsolete, that meets modern expectations around environmental impacts and which allows workers the greatest accessibility in an era when many of us are now working remotely. And that means embracing the cloud. Ensure resilience A resilient network and good technical support are essential to every modern business. There is an expectation for email, purchasing or sales automation to be working around the clock. Software updates, testing or hardware failures are no longer an excuse for disrupted services, which can instantly see customers go elsewhere. Just five years ago, businesses were put off moving their platforms and operations to the cloud because they weren’t sure about achieving the level of compliance and technical competence they needed to operate the systems. Every business we consulted felt the skills to manage cloud migration were a barrier to digitising their operations, and that only in-house experts could provide the support needed. That figure is now just 40 per cent. Trust in the cloud and cloud providers to manage their businesses and tailor their services to their needs has skyrocketed. Likewise, secure and reliable connections are more available than ever. While some thought the demand put on the internet during this period of working from home wouldn’t hold up, the Covid-19 lockdown has proven how resilient the internet can be. It is a credit to our network providers, whether fibre, copper or mobile data-based, that these services have remained largely in place as millions of people have suddenly put tremendous demand on capacity. This shows that network availability is no longer a constraint holding back businesses from placing their operations and services in the cloud. Those organisations using public cloud services are also better placed to combat the predatory players who sought to take advantage of the situation via scams and cyber-attacks, with regular security upgrades not available to those using an outdated server in the back office. No longer can you place your trust in simply ‘doing it yourself’. Instead, managed cloud-based services can prove more secure and reliable. Security and connectivity is complex to establish and even more challenging to maintain, especially when scarce, skilled resources are in high demand. Establish good financial governance Whichever cloud service you use, make sure to choose a partner or platform that can provide real-time analysis and reporting so you can see exactly how it’s working for your business and change your plan if you need to. Governance, cost control and resource efficiency have always been top priorities for businesses. Now more than ever, businesses are focused on getting the best value for money from their technological solutions while growing a sustainable business. One thing cloud-based platforms do very well, thanks to their sheer accessibility and ease of use, is enable workers to use a huge range of resources and implement their own changes and updates. However, if unconstrained, this can result in wastage and bill-shock. While governance and budget setting have provided the framework for cost control and planning for decades, moving to the cloud requires a new level of collaboration between Finance and IT. Ensuring these two teams remain communicative through the cloud integration process is vital to ensuring it runs smoothly and efficiently, that the right functionality is baked in from the beginning and there are no budget surprises.  As well as close co-operation, the key to ensuring total visibility and that cloud services are providing the best value, is using a monitoring service to provide real-time data on how cloud is being consumed across the business. The best services can illustrate exactly how resources are being used – either energy or data – and enable CFOs and other decision-makers to rapidly change to new plans that are better for the environment and the bottom line. Clear and regular reporting is essential and takes a great deal of time and effort out of maintaining good governance. Cloud is the future of many businesses and in a time of so much change and uncertainty, it is important to know your business has a model it can rely on to save costs and make governance far less onerous. To know that your business is making most of out your cloud service, make sure you have reporting in place so you can accurately reflect usage in real time, limit your expenses and energy consumption and create a business model that’s truly sustainable for many years to come.

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