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Centrica champions net zero with greater energy efficiency

Centrica’s Head of Environment reveals how businesses and individuals can help make net zero a reality.

Centrica’s Head of Environment, Jim Rushen, reveals how businesses and individuals can help make net zero a reality.

Smart controls, boiler upgrades, and radiator valves: home energy efficiency measures are not often top of the conversation list for an evening in the pub – unless you are meeting Jim Rushen. He is so passionate about the environment that it features heavily in both his professional and personal life. “When I catch up with friends, I often ask how well their home is insulated. I am always amazed at how interested they are, particularly with the current cost of energy, and yet many are still unsure of the answer. If everyone takes small steps to use resources efficiently, we can drive big changes and help protect the planet.”

As Group Head of Environment for Centrica, Rushen understands better than most the need for rapid and drastic change. “I’ve been working in this field for nearly 30 years and have seen the impact of human behaviour and climate change on our fragile ecosystem. We don’t have the luxury of time when it comes to decarbonisation. We must act now.” And that’s exactly what Rushen and Centrica are doing. The energy company has already cut its carbon emissions by 80% over the last decade and plans to deliver another reduction of 40% by 2034.

But this is just the beginning. From boosting its investment in renewables to electrifying its vehicle fleet, Centrica has put sustainability at the heart of its business. “We have integrated net zero into our strategic planning,” explained Rushen. “Businesses in all sectors are essential to enabling the transition to a net zero world. They will help to drive innovation and investment and become an important platform for change.”

Centrica has been supporting individuals, communities, and businesses with their energy needs for more than 200 years. And in 2021, it achieved an important milestone: supplying zero-carbon electricity to all UK customers. “Our very purpose is to provide services and solutions that help people live sustainably, simply, and affordably. We want to make the greener choice the easier and cheaper choice for everyone,” said Rushen.

Centrica: a champion for change

Sustainability: a challenge and an opportunity for business.

With 90% of its carbon emissions linked to its 10 million customers, Centrica’s People and Planet Plan needs to encompass more than just its own operations. And that’s where Rushen’s passion for energy efficiency comes to the fore. “The most sustainable unit of energy is the one that you don’t use in the first place. We want to help people find new ways to save energy at home – from more efficient boilers to employing smart devices or switching to cleaner forms of energy through installing EV Chargers or Air Source Heat Pumps.”

Centrica Hive has been blazing a trail in smart home management since 2013 and now has more than 1.9 million customers. “The Hive products help deepen your understanding and connection with energy use,” said Rushen. “I feel really satisfied when I find and address wastage in our home – it doesn’t just save energy but money too.”

And it’s not just individuals that can make financial savings. According to research by Centrica Business Solutions, 48% of organisations say they save money with innovative energy management. “Businesses and leaders need to start seeing sustainability as an opportunity instead of just a challenge and a cost. We need to invest in the future even if it means taking a leap of faith in these uncertain times,” commented Rushen.

As a fast-growing global pharmaceutical company, Accord Healthcare has already taken that leap of faith with help from Centrica Business Solutions. By investing in new technology to optimise energy utilisation at one of its sites, Accord Healthcare expects to save at least 10% on its electricity spend and achieve almost 80% efficiency per kWh compared with standard grid efficiency of approximately 50%.

The most sustainable unit of energy is the one that you don’t use in the first place.

Jim Rushen
Group Head of Environment, Centrica

Advancing net zero with digital technologies.

Digitalisation will be a key enabler for helping Centrica and its customers achieve net zero. The company showcased the role of technology and innovation in tackling the climate challenge as part of its COP26 programme in Glasgow. In the run-up to the event, Centrica launched its first Climate Transition Plan, which outlines how the company intends to become a net zero business by 2045 and use its services and solutions capability to help its customers be net zero by 2050 – with a focus on ensuring a ‘just transition’ that’s fair and affordable for all.

“The energy ecosystem of the future will be far more complex,” explained Rushen. “It will be dominated by renewable sources, which can be intermittent. We’ll need more storage options and rapid responses to fill the gaps, which will mean greater use of smart grids and optimisation tools.” This will also mean handling greater volumes of data, which can result in a large environmental footprint. “Climate change is the biggest challenge facing society, and we want to partner with technology companies that share our values,” said Rushen. “Salesforce supports our sustainability goals by reducing the carbon emissions associated with the services it provides to us.”

Salesforce achieved net-zero residual emissions across its full value chain in September 2021 and uses 100% renewable energy for its operations. “Sustainability and commercial viability are intertwined. The most successful organisations find a way to balance their economic goals with their environmental responsibilities,” said Rushen. “We want to empower all our colleagues to become ambassadors for sustainability.”

Centrica’s journey to net zero timeline Centrica’s journey to net zero

Sharing the sustainability message with more people.

To help more businesses and individuals join the net zero revolution, Centrica needs to optimise how it engages with millions of customers. “With Salesforce, we can streamline our touchpoints and channels. It enables us to connect with customers more effectively and predict their needs more accurately,” explained Rushen.

By optimising and enriching customer engagement, Centrica will be able to help more people take the steps they need to live sustainably, simply, and affordably. And it’s not just about enabling greater energy efficiency, it’s about reducing waste, avoiding single-use plastics, and protecting our natural environment.

“There’s so much we can do as individuals that it can be difficult to know where to start. But we must start now before it’s too late. Simply by being more mindful every day about how we consume resources, we can minimise our impact on the planet and make net zero a reality for future generations,” said Rushen.

Five ways you can make a difference Five ways you can make a difference

Learn more about keeping sustainability in the spotlight.

Discover more ways to minimise your environmental impact with our Sustainability at Home Guide.

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