If I was to embark on a journey of Scotland’s sustainability, it always made sense to start in the Highlands. After all, where else can the contrast of wild lands and renewable technologies find a way to coexist.
The weather can be rough, there is a different mindset from those in the central belt, and an overwhelming sense of respect for the region from those who choose to live here.
It was precisely this landscape and the complementary challenges that first brought communications strategist Peter Kane to the region many years ago, settling in Inverness.
At the Kane Partnership, he counts renewable energy companies among his clients and has moved to work from home during the pandemic, a combination he says has caused him to reassess his personal energy habits.
He told me, “Working with renewable energy companies and seeing how important renewables are for climate change, for net zero goals, for a better planet, really brings you individually and as a business this. what you need to focus on, do your own a bit as well as maybe work at some sort of corporate level to make changes as well. “
“I certainly think during the pandemic this is something that came to our mind more.
“Establishing that separation between normal home life and your work from home has become very important because you have to, on a very pragmatic fiscal level, show what kind of energy is being spent on your work situation.
“But also, especially with rising energy prices, it’s really important to see how you are using your energy and what time of day to monitor it. “
He says he’s not surprised if others have chosen to make the same lifestyle choice.
“I think one of the things the pandemic has done for a lot of people is to help reassess priorities and we got to see the kind of differences in the world that climate change is causing, the problems it is causing. And so on. sure, he admits.
“I had a customer, for example, who had smart meters installed and she couldn’t believe how much their electricity costs went up every time they turned on the kettle for a cup of tea, and they even got to the point where if they have three cups of tea being made, they’ll put three cups of water in the kettle, and it was their smart meter that alerted them, and that did the same. for me.
“More and more, I hear from customers and companies we work with talking about the benefits they have achieved with smart meters. So I think it’s actually a no-brainer, it’s something that can help you find ways to do your part for climate change, but also keep the costs under control. “
He’s there. A home smart meter comes with a home accessible display that can tell you exactly how much power you’re using in near real time. Small businesses can also have a smart meter installed, but may not receive a home display.
He is even considering getting an electric car as soon as possible. He said: “I wish I had taken this route even earlier than what I’m looking at now.”
A cool change in temperature is all too evident going down the A9 as I leave Inverness. There is already a blanket of snow on the mountains as I arrive in Aviemore, a place that prides itself on its environmental outlook.
This is where the Cairngorm Brewery is based, run by Managing Director Sam Faircliff, who is also the co-founder of the local Highland Tourism group. I ask him how conscious are they really about sustainability?
“I think that’s very important to us at Cairngorm Brewery, especially because we’re based in Cairngorms National Park, so a lot of the decisions we make are based on sustainability,” she says.
“We strive to reuse and recycle and we also regularly review processes, review them and try to be as innovative and sustainable as possible.
“We are looking at the technology for solar photovoltaic energy, the electrification of our fleet, the capture of carbon from our fermentation process, we are also looking at switching from LPG to green hydrogen when that technology is available and that is a big consideration for us as we look to increase our capacity, we want to make sure that the kit we are putting in place is actually capable of making the change.
More than that, she believes it is essential for business leaders like her to drive a change in how businesses operate.
“I think we all have a responsibility in the Highlands to take care of what is a beautiful and special part of Scotland,” she adds.
“Conscious travel is being aware of the efforts of the companies they visit, that it becomes the norm, so you can see that this is the way forward instead of just seeing it as a playground that can be used and abused. “
Perhaps it is this sustainable spirit in the Highlands that we also need to harness in Glasgow.
Join the energy revolution. Research: “Get a smart meter”.