We can do better than return to normal

It is time for an honest conversation. One of the greatest experiences of the last couple of months has been the removal of artificial barriers in relationships between people. All our exchanges with each other as a team, with our customers, with our friends and family, have just felt more candid with less expectation and more vulnerability. Maybe now we can really lean into the challenges in front of us and come back better than what we once called ‘normal’.

I do not for one moment mistake the level of suffering that is currently taking place, and our condolences are with those who have lost their loved ones. It is a very present reminder of our fragility. As per my favourite ‘motivational video’, all of us are always just one unexpected phone call, one diagnosis, one broken heart, one newfound love, and one moment away from being completely different people with completely different priorities. Many people are experiencing that right now and we should all remember in the business world that relationships matter more than contracts and the best thing we can do in this moment is support each other.

The world will never be the same again. We all miss our families and friends, some of us miss our routines. As time progresses through this Coronavirus phase, many of us seem to be striving for a return to normality. How good was normal though? Were we really where wanted to be before all of this? Was normal so good, or did things need to change anyway.

The simple fact is that the world has changed, and we now live in a fragile state, where we know little that gives us certainty of our future. However, I don’t think anything is any more fragile than it was before, we are just suddenly much more aware of our humanity, our vulnerability and how much we all matter to each other. So, from that place, maybe we can reflect on how something other than a return to normal may be good for all of us.

If you will humour me for one moment, I want to ask, what more do we truly have in life than our own consciousness and each other? Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable enough to reflect on where we might be able to improve life, our relationships and our interactions with the planet will be a powerful thing. I don’t mean this just on a personal level, I think this is a challenge that those in leadership positions should be considering right now as they look to the future. This is a time that we will learn great lessons. This time the vulnerability that comes with it, hopefully, just maybe, may make us realise how important we are to each other, how each moment matters and how acting together to secure our common future matters more than we’ve previously given enough focus to.


Sustainability, for anyone not familiar with the history of the concept, is the idea that in the middle of a harmonious relationship between our society, our economic prosperity and our environment, we find a sustainable future. The guiding principle/definition is “Sustainability is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

It is fair to say, so far, we are still finding our way as to how to do this. We have a tendency to prioritise one of the three at the expense of the other(s). Our particular focus (at Energise) as an organisation is on the environmental element but they all matter equally, and it doesn’t work without them all.

If anyone needed convincing of the benefits of sustainability:

  • According to the world economic forum, the top five global risks to our way of life (in terms of likelihood) are all environmental (extreme weather, climate change, natural disasters, biodiversity loss, human made environmental disasters)

  • The financial/economic losses from not acting on climate change are around five times the cost of acting (Stern Review)

  • Consider that the definition of sustainability is that about ensuring that there are sufficient resources for future generations then the fact that we use about 1.75 times more resources than are available then we need to seriously adjust our resource use quickly. To put in perspective, in 2019, globally we used up everything that the Earth had for us (sustainably) on July 29th (in the UK the date is May 16th).

To do this we need to make every decision (as best we can) with each other, our common future and the planet in mind.

As a society, it is not that we can’t solve these problems, but that we haven’t found our way yet. In a time where we are changing much about our society and economy to respond to what will likely be the worst economic downturn on record, it seems a good time to think about how we act sustainably in everything we do. To do this we need to make every decision (as best we can) with each other, our common future and the planet in mind.


There is so much we can and should all be doing. But let’s start here -

SOURCE: https://www.creds.ac.uk/creds-study-uncovers-best-ways-to-change-consumption-to-cut-carbon-footprint/


Our mission is to be a catalyst for Net Zero. Being a catalyst for change starts with each of us. As a catalyst, the energy and awareness we bring to a situation allows change to occur.

We believe there is a stark choice for all of us on Earth and in the next decade, we will decide the future of our home and what our children's futures look like. It is time to bring out the hero in all of us and act. So much of the problem we face is about gaining the momentum to make the change happen.

As is the case with everything in life, things are more likely to happen if we create and follow the path of least resistance. This means we need to make the journey for our customers easy to use, effective and enjoyable.

It is in this strive to make the world of Net Zero meet those three tests (easy to use, effective and enjoyable) that I am delighted to announce a series of major changes at Energise:

1. We are running a programme of events over the next six to nine months focussed on how ‘We can do better than return to normal’. We start with a webinar hosted by Future Net Zero this afternoon (sign up here if interested).

2. We have produced a single integrated new digital delivery platform for our work (we’ve been working on it for about a year). It is called the Net Zero Hub and has everything in one place. Initial feedback from early users has been great so we hope you see value in it too (there is a free account – see next point).

3. To coincide with the start of this programme ‘We can do better than return to normal’ we are launching a Sustainability Toolkit. It will be accessible from 8th June, via our free of charge ‘Empower’ membership level on the new Net Zero Hub. On that account you will be able to:

  1. access the Sustainability Toolkit (inc. our open source strategy framework)

  2. check out our Sector Guides outlining key Net Zero considerations per sector

  3. access “Trusted”, our solutions library where you review technologies/review suppliers

  4. ask an Expert where you can ask our team questions (more complex ones may be chargeable, but will always be agreed with you in advance)

  5. review the Knowledgebase where you can find insight into your Net Zero pathway

  6. take the Energise Index and score your current approach out of 100

  7. use our Reduce & Renew module where you can track your Net Zero projects

  8. take part in the Forum and discuss with other Net Zero colleagues

4. In coming months, we will be launching a personal use app that will allow each of us to find the hero inside, our ‘Zero Hero’! If you want to sign up for updates on that as it progresses, sign up here.

This is a start of a longer-term vision for us where we set out to be the catalyst for 1% of the UK to be Net Zero by 2025. It is a hugely ambitious target but put in context that we audited over 1% of UK end energy use in 2019. Whilst ambitious it feels we have the foundation from which to start to be able to do something that would have that kind of impact, and as we ask ourselves, if not us then who, if not now, then when.


To assist those of you who are part of an organisation trying to navigate through this journey, particularly as many organisations have to re-think their commercial strategy, we felt that it was a good time to put out our Sustainability Toolkit. It contains an open-source strategy framework. What we mean by open-source is that it is free for you to use, and that we are open to contributions as to how to develop it, we would love to see a community develop around it so that there is in time, a best available technique solution to how each of us faces up to the challenges posed by climate change.

The framework is designed to be flexible and can be used for either the whole of sustainability or the sub-set of Net Zero, and contains a rich set of guidance, checklists and models as a collection of tools to make this process easier for you all and hopefully support us all in taking another step towards a more sustainable life.

The graphic below summarises the contents of the Sustainability Toolkit, if you want to access it, email us at support@netzerohub.com.


A YouGov poll released last week suggest that only a quarter of us felt that life would much the same as it was before COVID-19. After the pandemic, the biggest issue that the same survey highlighted for the world to show up and address was our relationship with the environment. In short, a return to normal is just not likely, and we can all do better.

We have the power to change the world and to protect our home, for ourselves, for others and for future generations. We must be the catalyst for that change. We must be the people and organisations that precipitate that change. We must be the change we want to see in the world.

Simon Alsbury cofounded Energise in 2008. You can connect with him on Linkedin.