Going green pays off for Caledonian

It is more than just a business plan for Caledonian however. The recurring theme of Caledonian’s energy innovations is that they are good for the environment and good for business.

At financial services firm Caledonian going green isn’t just a handy corporate slogan, it’s a way of life.

The George Town based business has undergone a series of internal design changes to make it more energy efficient.

The next step will be a “solar car park” complete with power outlets for charging electric cars.

Investment in energy, in this case, is a rare instance of the needs of the environment meshing with the financial imperative of business.

Steve Sokohl, chief financial officer at Caledonian, is the company’s point person on energy innovation. Visibly enthused by the challenge, Steve monitors the company’s energy usage from an app on his iPhone.

The gadget is one of a number of new tools the company is using to slash its energy costs and reduce its carbon footprint.

The changes are working. The company is seeing a 25-30 percent reduction in its electricity bills in a month-on-month comparison with previous years.

Mr. Sokohl said internal design changes were the first phase in an energy reduction plan aimed at making the business among the greenest in Cayman.

“We looked at the amount of money we were paying to CUC and decided that was money we would rather be paying to our employees.”

The first step was to get professional help. Three businesses, Corporate Electric, Endless Energy and MEPCO were brought in to help formulate a plan for reduced energy usage.

All the lighting was changed to LED fixtures, which are 70 percent more energy efficient; occupancy sensors were introduced in every room in the building to sense body heat and manipulate air-conditioning usage accordingly and an energy monitoring system was brought in allowing company bosses to keep track of every circuit in real time.

“It’s about smart energy use,” said Mr. Sokohl.

“Our air conditioning system is entirely web based so we can make sure it is off at weekends or that it can be switched on in a specific area if someone is working.”
Less comprehensible to the layman but equally important to the transformation was the introduction of a “misting system” which keeps the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning unit cool, allowing it to operate without consuming as much power.

The energy conscious redesign of Caledonian’s George Town offices involved some initial costs.

But the company expects to be paid back in savings on electricity bills.
“These capital expenditures will pay for themselves in three or four years. We are already seeing savings of 25-30 per cent month on month compared with last year” says Mr Sokohl.

The next phase is to redesign the outside of the building. The car park is currently being redeveloped to include state-of-the-art solar panels which will provide electricity to be sold back to the national grid.

Nicole Gordon, marketing and business development manager at Caledonian, said the development was in keeping with the company’s forward thinking ethos.

“The solar panels are very sleek and modern looking. They are next generation in terms of the style and design.

“Our ethos is about being cutting edge so it is fitting that we would be looking to be energy conscious in this way.”

The solar panels will be placed on a roofed platform which covers the parking bays, providing shade to the vehicles.

It is hoped that the system will provide enough power to sell 100kw of energy back to the grid, the maximum allowed under CUC’s CORE programme.

The CORE programme provides for the sale and exchange of electric energy between CUC and its customers in an effort to increase renewable energy sources on the island.

All of CUC’s electricity generation comes from traditional diesel powered generators. Purchasing power from customers with solar panels allows it to rely less heavily on fossil fuels.

Caledonian hopes to have its solar car park up and running by September.

Another feature of the parking lot will be charging bays for electric cars.

Electric cars have been part of the green project at Caledonian for some time.

In January last year the company announced that it was offering leasing options for electric cars in the Cayman Islands. Globally, electric cars are making inroads in most markets and this is driven both by green demand as well as economic demand.

While driving distances are a limiting factor in some countries, this is not a factor in the Cayman Islands where the longest drive would only be about 30 miles, and 98% of the cars on the island are driven less than 50 miles per day – well within the maximum range of most electric cars.

The recurring theme of Caledonian’s energy innovations is that they are good for the environment and good for business. The solar panels will cut the company’s need for diesel generated electricity. Overtime, says Mr. Sokohl, they will pay for themselves in cost savings.

Ms Gordon added: “Our consumption level and our impact on the environment is going to be a considerable amount less. It makes sense financially and it is the right thing to do.” 


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