Look around the pharmacy to see where you might be able to save on energy, wastage and cost

Going green isn’t just about saving on energy; it also means cutting down on waste and those items that go unnecessarily to landfill. The first step is to look at how energy is currently being used and a simple walk round the pharmacy will identify energy-using processes and any energy-saving opportunities.

There are common areas of wastage to most businesses. Take heating – buildings become overheated when areas that do not need to be warmed are heated and where systems are poorly controlled or serviced.

The Carbon Trust reckons that poorly serviced boilers cost 30 per cent more to run and new condensing boilers can be 90 per cent efficient. Savings can also be made with the installation of instantaneous water heaters that deliver small quantities of hot water when needed rather than having to heat water centrally in a large boiler.

Lighting can be costly, but few realise that 26mm fluorescent tubes use 10 per cent less electricity and can be less expensive to buy than older 38mm tubes. Low-energy bulbs, including LED lights, are the way forward and use a fraction of the energy. And then there’s natural light.

When it comes to the back office, high-energy equipment is best located in naturally ventilated areas to reduce the drain on air conditioning units. Look for office equipment that features an Energy Star rating as this signals that it can automatically enter a low-power mode after a preset amount of time. Computers should be turned off at nights and weekends, rather than left running – they’ll use 75 per cent less energy. Switching off monitors when not in use will also lower energy consumption.

There is a multitude of different technologies that pharmacies can deploy. With solar energy it’s quite possible to get paid for every unit of solar power produced and exported to the National Grid. An alternative is a ceramic fuel cell device that converts natural gas into electricity. This power can cost less than the electricity supplied by the generators and in the process generates heat that can run a hot water boiler. Biomass burners that use wood pellets are eligible for the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive. Businesses, including community pharmacies, could be paid for every KwH of heat they produce – for 20 years.

There are various sources of advice, including the power companies, government and the independent energy body the Carbon Trust, and it’s quite possible that a pharmacy may qualify for grants depending on what it is planning to invest in. With interest-free loans from the Carbon Trust and the 100 per cent tax allowance for energy saving or water conservation and plant and machinery that’s on the Energy Technology List, investment can become affordable.

Adam Bernstein is a business writer

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