All around the country, businesses are looking to reduce their carbon footprint and energy costs. Heather Barron speaks to a North East company that is helping to get them there

Each in his own right, Gary Rudd and Dave Meredith run successful businesses, working in the same industry. They have known each other for many years, and have often collaborated on projects along the way.

Both became interested in sustainability and long-term cost-savings for customers, and so diversified into other businesses.

Gary first set up G&B Electrical Contractors more than 20 years ago, and later launched LED Supply & Fit, after he saw the bright future of LED lighting.

Dave took over GBS Electrics in 2014 after being employed by them for many years. It was his ongoing interest in renewable energy and technologies that led him to upskill in installing electric vehicle charging points, and, later, solar panels. Both the electrical businesses share the same area of coverage, when one got busy, they would sub-contract to each other. Over time, they realised that they were interested in being in the same industry sector, and, as they worked so well together, they made the decision to combine their skills.

Rather than be known as electrical companies that also do solar, they decided to create a company “that does what it says on the tin”, as Dave puts it.

So, Go2Renewables was born, offering customers more opportunities to reduce their energy costs, and reduce their carbon footprint, with the use of energy-saving lighting, solar panels, energy storage batteries and EV charging installations.

One such customer is PSI Global Ltd, based at Wynyard Park, who contacted Go2Renewables about a site survey and no-obligation quote:

John Smart, PSI global quality assurance manager, said: “Due to the rising costs of electricity we decided to install LED lighting systems, replacing our incandescent lights with LED Lights.

“Our site has a variety of different lighting types installed, including T5 fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent bulbs. The business operates for up to 12 hours per day.

“LED Supply & Fit carried out a comprehensive survey of the current system, with workable examples of how the new system would look, once installed.

“They provided actual figures of what the new system would look like, with estimated savings of 50 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions, and a payback period of three to four years.

“We were so impressed with what they proposed that LED Supply & Fit were offered the contract to replace units with LED lighting.

“From day one of the installation, all LED Supply & Fit staff worked with ourselves, around production and office environments, to replace all units.

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“LED Supply & Fit staff were very courteous, polite, and helpful to all our staff, and nothing was a problem.

“The planned installation was estimated to take five days but was actually carried out in four days.

“We have since employed LED Supply & Fit for other electrical projects, and I would highly recommend the company to anyone who requires the complete package, from survey through to installation.”

Not only did LED Supply & Fit improve the company’s lighting, in collaboration with Go2Renewables, they also installed 300 solar PV modules on the roof, and four EVC points in the car park.

Overall, PSI Global’s energy bill has been reduced by more than half, from £167k over ten years, to £72k – a remarkable saving of just under £95k. This translates to an annual saving of more than £9,500  and a short period of return on investment.

The carbon saving from switching is 25 tons per year on the LED conversion, and 22 tons for the Solar Panels. Which helps PSI Global towards achieving their commitment of reducing their carbon footprint by 30 per cent by 2030.

The initial quote might seem prohibitive, but the long-term gains in both energy savings and reduced carbon footprint speak for themselves.

LED Supply & Fit can also explore grants that are available to help companies to reduce the overall cost, and they will help the business to complete the application.

In the case of PSI Global, they were able to access 50 percent funding towards the LED switch, and 30 percent to help with the solar installation, which resulted in a grant of more than £49k. Funding around the region varies, so percentages will be different for businesses in Newcastle, Sunderland, and County Durham, but LED Supply & Fit and Go2Renewables will help companies find the best avenue to secure funding.

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If grants aren’t available, very low interest rate loans might be the way to help businesses to make the changes.

Dave Meredith says: “Companies don’t always know that they can apply for funding towards these – they can be quite costly projects. They want to do the right thing, but, initially, it may seem quite a substantial investment to make.

“It can be a big investment, but getting funding for it makes it more achievable, and we know what funding is available through our experience over the years, so we can point them in the right direction and help them make the application.

“Any company that is socially aware of its carbon footprint these days, will be keen to do what they can to reduce it. Once we have done a survey of the site, we can demonstrate the potential savings that can be achieved – and they start immediately the changes are implemented.”

Talking about the PSI Global solar PV project, Dave agrees that it was a big job, but the savings reflect the investment.

“Every project we do on commercial and industrial premises is bespoke because everyone is different in how they use their power and the way they operate,” explains Dave. “If the main operation is during the evening, then the solar power generated during the day needs to be stored in batteries, to be used once the business is operating – for example a food take-away establishment.

“With companies like PSI Global, they might not benefit very much from a battery as they will use what they’re generating during the day, so the battery might not even get charged up.

“Part of what we do is to advise them about what will suit their company best at that time. We’ll provide them with what will work for them, and if something won’t work, we’ll tell them why.  We also try and educate them in ways they could improve their consumption and future-proof their decision making.

“However, because companies are going through change all the time, we can monitor the data over a 12-month period and make any adjustments as necessary. We can look at how much generated electricity they’re exporting. If they’re exporting a substantial amount, we can fit a battery retrospectively and save them more money.”

Dave’s interest in sustainability began with electric vehicles.

“When they hit the market, I was really interested in the concept. I thought it was a good thing for everybody: savings for businesses and saving the environment at the same time – it’s a no-brainer.

“So we trained to be qualified to design and fit the actual charging systems for the vehicles. Although I was also interested in solar power, from a business perspective, 10 or 15 years ago, it never worked out on a return on investment (ROI) basis due to high capital costs at the time.

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“Now, because of the way the economy is going, there’s a much bigger push on going green and companies are getting more educated and passionate about implementing these technologies into the workplace – setting themselves targets to be more net zero.”

Although it was only launched a couple of years ago, Go2Renewables has become a success story.

“We’ve done quite a lot of big jobs,” says Dave, proudly, “and we’ve got testimonials from customers who are very happy with our work.

“We’re not the sort of company that just walks out the door when the job’s finished, and the customer never hears from us again. We check in to make sure everything is running well, and whether they need anything else from us.

“After care is as important as the initial sale.”

With that kind of attitude, Go2Renewables looks to have a long, sustainable life ahead.

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