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A drawing of a light bulb and clouds

Energy is the driving force behind life and movement. Without energy there would be no life, no light, and no movement of any kind. Where the environment is concerned, the term "energy" primarily refers to the creation of electricity which is used to power the lights, machinery and equipment of businesses and households.

To produce this energy there needs to be a fuel source of some kind. Whilst great strides have been made in the last decade or two in the creation of power using environmentally-friendly methods, the majority of the world's power is still produced from fuels which release a by-product that damages the planet in some way. Fossil fuels such as coal and oil release large quantities of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases when burnt which is released into the air and contribute to the greenhouse effect, where the layer of gases prevents heat escaping into space and traps it in the earth, causing the climate to warm up and resulting in droughts and damaging weather phenomenon.

The vast quantities of natural resources used up in the generation of energy, and the resulting pollution created as a consequence, means that energy production and consumption is a primary concern and issue as far as the environment is concerned, and the potential risks that can befall all life on earth as a result of changing climates, ozone layer damage, smog, acid rain and the other negative impacts that can come about through generating energy from fossil fuels.

Even "cleaner" types of fuel such as nuclear power can have dire environmental consequences if accidents occur like an explosion which releases toxic radiation in the surrounding area, along with the need to safely dispose of spent fuel rods and nuclear waste in a manner where it cannot threaten the health and safety of anyone.

Advances in technology and increased awareness of environmental issues has led to a greater utilisation than ever before of clean, renewable sources of energy generation which do not consume finite resources or produce harmful pollutants. There are however other objections and disadvantages regarding their use, such as visual intrusions and the expense of building in quantities necessary to generate the same amount of electricity as fossil fuel burning equivalents.

Reviewing Use of Energy and Materials

An organisation's use of energy, materials and other resources has an effect not only upon its costs and subsequent financial performance, but also its environmental impact as the more it consumes the greater its direct or indirect contribution to pollution levels or destruction of the environment.

There will be two primary ways of mitigating and lessening this negative impact without necessarily affecting output; either by reducing its consumption levels through more efficient processes or by introducing and/or making better use of more environmentally-friendly means of energy generation.

When first commencing a process the company is likely to pay close attention to various cost factors, with the cost of the required energy consumption, inputs and waste generation being highly important considerations. However, many will then fail to monitor and regularly review how minor changes to the process over the next months or years, or how aging machinery, may be making more demands on resources or generating increasing amounts of waste or defective products. It may be the case that what once started as an efficient process may now have become increasingly less so, which will be even worse if advances in technology mean there is a much more efficient method of doing the task/process.

So just as reviews need to be made to health and safety controls to ensure that they are still suitable for any changes that may have occurred since the last review or since they were introduced if no reviews have taken place since that time, so too will regular reviews of processes from an environmental point of view need to be performed at regular intervals to ensure that the processes still come up to the standards required from that perspective also.

Internal Pages Regarding Energy

Please use the links below to read more about the topic of energy with regards to environmental health and safety:

Related Course

Please see below for more information on the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate:

NEBOSH Certificate in Environmental Management

The NEBOSH Environmental Certificate, or NEBOSH National Certificate in Environmental Management to give it its full title, is an environmental health and safety course which is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who are responsible for managing environmental issues at their workplace.

The NEBOSH Environmental Certificate qualification focuses on UK law, so is really only suitable for those who are based and operate within the UK.

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