The journey to using renewable energy in the UK

Longer, healthier, happier lives
09 June 2017
Solar panels

Sarah Lodge, Energy and Environment Analyst from Bupa UK, talks about her experience of helping the business switch to renewable energy and the journey Bupa’s sustainability team has made.

Over the past eight years I have seen Bupa take an incredible journey to transform the way it consumes energy. We know that human activity has a huge impact on the environment, which is why Bupa has taken steps to change the way we source and use energy in a radical but logical way.

I’m proud of the commitment, ambition and the significant investment made to become a more sustainable business, led by the senior leadership and sustainability team at Bupa. As a result, we have seen a 24% reduction in carbon emissions in the UK and a significant amount of electricity is now self-generated on-site through renewables, meaning we are less reliant on fossil fuels. 

While we’ve always worked to reduce energy, the business saw a real change in 2009 when the first of a number of energy saving measures were rolled out on a large scale. These included cavity wall and loft insulation to conserve and prevent heat loss, sophisticated heating controls to be more efficient with our energy usage, and LED lighting to reduce the amount of energy wasted from older bulb lighting which weren’t as bright. These were implemented across our care homes, clinics, hospital and offices. This approach taken over a number of years was to ensure that when renewable technology was introduced, it didn’t create power only to be wasted through heat loss or lights being left on unnecessarily. 

In addition to 100 solar panel systems across our estate, we’ve also installed combined heat and power (CHP) units at 89 of our sites. These generate electricity and heat at the same time, meaning our reliance on the National Grid has reduced considerably. During peak hours in the summer, a number of sites now appear as ‘off grid’ for its power, meaning they are not using electricity from the Grid to run.

The adaptations made to our properties follow the energy pyramid. By focusing on conserving energy and being more efficient with what we use, we can then go on to introduce renewable technology, in the knowledge that we are using it in the best way. As an employee, it is important to me to work within a company which is taking action to improve its environmental impact. This logical approach shows Bupa’s commitment to a low carbon estate and a business recognizing its responsibility as a significant consumer of energy. 

The efficiencies made to the business have also made a big difference to our customers. For example, LED lighting installed in our Netherton Green care homes, has helped to create a bright, airy atmosphere which has vastly improved the space for both staff and residents. It’s a really warm and inviting place, which is important to our dementia residents living there.

Of course, while we’re pleased to be celebrating successes, we still have more work to do, and not only within energy management. We are focused on improving our waste production and increasingly recycling rates, along with reducing and reusing water where possible. It’s a challenge, but one that is at the heart of helping to create a healthier planet which in turn helps to create a healthier, happier life for people.

Bupa
Longer, healthier, happier lives
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