Getting to know our Greener Team, part 1
blog 02 Mar 2022
Get to know our Green Team a little better we sat down with Christian Spence, our Sustainable Energy Manager.
At Sunbelt Rentals UK we’re serious about investing in Greener Solutions that can have a real positive impact on the environment.
So, we’re not just investing in the latest equipment, we’re also seeking out experts who can identify and advise which solutions will make a real difference for our customers. And we’re proud to have a growing team dedicated to delivering our environmental strategy.
Part of their remit is seeking out new innovations and technologies that can lower emissions and fuel consumption, resulting in real benefits both environmentally and commercially for our customers.
In addition, the team is on hand to help and advise our customers in building bespoke solutions that can have real environmental benefits, enabling them to embark on their own greener journey.
So, to get to know our Green Team a little better we sat down with Christian Spence, our Sustainable Energy Manager…
Christian, where does your knowledge and interest in Sustainable Energy come from?
From a young age, I’ve always had an interest in engineering and understanding how things work, I was no doubt a nightmare child, wanting to dismantle all sorts of things to indulge my need to understand.
This led to my first career, joining the British Army as a Combat Engineer within the Royal Engineers Corps. I could indulge and grow my passion while solving problems in harsh and very challenging environments.
It taught me many things, but one that sticks with me is how important operational effectiveness was, no matter the size of the problem, the fundamentals don’t change. If a team works together to find a solution, we can achieve a common goal.
Following an 8-year career in the military, I realised the climate was changing and renewable energy would play a key part in the future, so I wanted to develop my knowledge in this area and joined a British manufacturing company developing battery storage technology.
Here I expanded my skills and knowledge in sustainable energy, building off-grid installations in remote locations. These solutions incorporated not just battery, but solar and wind-powered technologies, creating integrated and sustainable temporary power solutions that offered not just carbon savings, but could reduce costs when compared with traditional off-grid power solutions in commercial environments.
I went on to develop EV (Electric Vehicle) charging infrastructures, that could again be completely off-grid, but still sustainable. As well as hybrid solutions that use temporary power to top up a grid supply while substations await upgrades to cope with increased power demands for the growing EV charging infrastructure.
And a little over 12 months ago, I met with a key leader from Sunbelt Rentals UK, whose passion for bringing greener solutions to the UK rental market left me with no option but to join them. And here I am.
So, what Greener Solutions should sites be looking to right now?
It has to start with power, and solutions that can have both a positive effect on the environment and deliver commercial savings, but it can’t stop there. If we take a holistic view and invest the money saved on power in other greener solutions, the environment wins, which is fundamentally our collective goal.
There’s a fantastic range of equipment already out there, take the Casella Guardian Site Monitor, it will measure and report on the impact your site is having on its surroundings, there are alternative solutions to get around large sites such as electric bikes, electric-powered plant, stage v plant, battery tools and solar tool charging stations, the list is ever-growing.
A holistic view would enable sites to stay within set budgets and invest in a wider range of greener solutions that can reduce noise, improve air quality and fundamentally help us achieve the global target of slowing down and preventing climate change.
How will the 2022 fuel changes help drive a change in the way the construction industry adopts greener solutions?
The changes to fuel tax coming in April this year are a milestone in the race to stop climate change.
There’s no doubt many customers will be daunted by the changes, but I encourage you to embrace them as the greener talk isn’t going away and you don’t want to get left behind. So, the sooner we embrace together as an industry and start discussing the change and sharing concerns, the sooner we can collectively find solutions to overcome the challenges. Climate change isn’t going away.
But that’s why we’ve formed the Greener Team at Sunbelt, there are better solutions out there and fundamentally we need to change the way we think and use equipment.
Change isn’t easy, but it comes back to wanting to achieve that common goal, reducing emissions is that common goal. We are explorers, embarking on a journey of change, it’s an exciting phase to be a part of.
There are solutions out there, we’re continually identifying and discovering and bringing them to market to make them accessible for all. Many of our greener power solutions will actually reduce fuel consumption and we're talking significant reductions of up to 80%, which in turn reduces fuel costs and the fuel changes will no doubt be the drive to adopt these solutions.
We’re changing the way the industry thinks about and delivers temporary power and that's exciting, this is our chance to be part of the solution and fundamentally drive change.
Which Greener solutions will bring about the greatest savings?
Take a site compound, traditionally whilst waiting to get connected to the grid, the site would deploy a generator for its power. But times and technologies have changed.
The standard now should be integrated power solutions that include a BSU (Battery Storage Unit), an EMS (Energy Management System), alternative fuels such as HVO, and stage v generators, all working in harmony together.
Together they will deliver the cleanest and most commercially viable solution in today’s market.
This solution could reduce CO2 by up to 80%.
It will reduce NOx and PM (Particulate Matter), improving air quality for all.
There will be significant fuel savings and operational improvements.
Plus, compliance with the growing number of LEZs…
And they’ll also help reduce noise pollution as well as provide tangible data to better understand how your site uses its power day today.
What could prevent people from adopting a greener power solution?
Nothing, other than a reluctance to change.
The only realistic obstacle could be access to equipment, which is why Sunbelt Rentals UK has invested heavily in greener solutions to ensure we have availability across our range to meet customers’ needs.
Are there any other greener technologies you’re exploring right now that you’re allowed to mention?
The sustainability team is committed to carrying out strategic trials to identify new products and solutions that we can deploy at scale and further reduce site emissions.
These include wind and solar technologies to drive temporary power solutions, alternative fuel cells such as hydrogen, and technologies that provide data to enable us to better understand the use and distribution of power to prevent waste and drive efficiency.
If these technologies can present a commercially viable solution that offers significant environmental savings, we will look to invest as a business and bring these to the market and make them accessible for all.
And finally, do you take your work home with you?
Haha, yes, it transpires to my domestic and family life. I make conscious efforts to reduce food miles, shop locally, avoid single-use plastics and utilise public transport wherever I can.
I appreciate the wonders of the environment around me and that drives my desire to have an impact on preventing climate change.
Every Sunday I take my son for a walk, either on the beach or the forest, we foredge wild foods, litter pick, identify plants or trees, and just appreciate nature.
Surrounding yourself by nature just makes you feel fundamentally better, so yes, I want to be part of the change that can help protect that. However small my part may be in it, if we all make those little changes, wherever we can, it will have a big impact.