If technology allows us to virtually participate in meetings that take place anywhere in the world, is it so important that we are there to shake hands in person? As the cost of power creeps ever higher, I would imagine that priorities will shift out of necessity towards conducting more business through digital channels.
Last week, Rolton Group proudly hosted the launch of the latest CTF report, which explores the vital role of a smart grid in the UK. I was invited by Dan Byles MP to open the event, and in my introductory speech I explained why the advent of the smart grid is of such importance for businesses and consumers alike:
Delft University of Technology has devised a 'game-changing' new method to convert what are often historic buildings into modern energy-efficient structures without major renovation... the possibility of energy-neutral, sustainable urban living is no longer a dream for millions of people right across the continent.
When countries set out their cases for energy independence, the main reason is generally cited as the need to ease reliance on oil and gas from unfriendly places. President Barack Obama's 'All of the Above' energy strategy for example, a plan that has seen this US administration extract more fossil fuels than any other, is very much predicated on the need to lessen oil imports from Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Economists need to pay more attention to resources as there is a clear and pressing need to develop greater resilience to commodity price shocks. While this will not solve all our economic problems, it can make an important contribution to many of them. For this reason, the careful management of resources should be right at the heart of economic policy.
One word of warning, if you are considering applying for a payback, my advice would be to do it so sooner rather than later. The Government plans to review the scheme quarterly and will reduce the incentive as necessary based on the number of people wanting to join. This is one example where it really will pay to be in there from the beginning.
The mood, ambition and announcements at the World Economic Forum in Davos has left me feeling more energized and confident than ever that 2014 will be the year when the world can and must come together to meet the growing challenge of climate change and seize the opportunities manifest in a transition to a low carbon economy.
A number of issues have been blamed for poor take-up of the Green Deal, from early IT glitches and inadequate marketing to overly-complex administration. But it is the relatively high interest rates on Green Deal loans - around 8 per cent - that have most commonly been cited for deterring consumers from signing on the dotted line.
After Ed Miliband's price freeze plan took the party conference season by storm, energy was rarely out of the headlines in the final months of 2013. The most recent twist came last week, with uSwitch showing that bill payers are £53 a year worse off today than in January 2013, despite high profile action from government aimed at countering price rises.
So the saying goes "if you can't beat them, join them" and the latest raft of energy price hikes suggests now is the time for UK consumers to consider doing just that. We are a nation tired of being held to ransom by our energy bills - so has the time come to ditch our reliance on energy companies by becoming the bosses of our own energy supplies?
Over the past five years, more and more of my work is with developers who are developing new neighbourhoods or updating existing areas. As a sustainability consultant, I look for ways we can take advantage of large scale development to transform the efficiency of our energy, water, waste and transport systems. Neighbourhood development often has benefits over individual sustainable buildings.