Towards a Net Zero business environment
We are aware that it is sometimes difficult to know where to start on your journey towards a net zero business environment as this touches every element of what we do, from initial procurement to waste management and everything in-between, so we have provided 5 initial tips for businesses below.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Thinking about sustainable procurement can act as an exercise to engage employees with thinking of ways they can reduce consumption of items such as water, paper, food and drink, laptops, phones and packaging. Manufacture and transport of all these items has an associated carbon footprint.
Purchasing recycled paper or refurbished phones and IT equipment is an easy way to reduce your businesses carbon footprint. Buying recycled paper instead of primary production reduces carbon emissions as stipulated by the GHG Protocol. If your business has a large supply chain, then it is particularly important to ensure that sustainability is fed right through.
Reduce Emissions from Business Vehicles
If your business has a fleet of vehicles, consider installing a telematics system (GPS tracking) to allow the collection of data that can help analyse your fleet’s usage and make your fleet more efficient. Analysis of telematics data could inform criteria for future purchase/leasing decisions.
Choosing more fuel efficient or alternatively fuelled vehicles such as alternative fuel or electric vehicles. Government grants are available to subsidise the cost of new low-emissions vehicles. As with the cost of EVs the government also offers subsidies to those installing charge points at home.
It will be worthwhile engaging The Energy Saving Trust (EST) who can carry out several different reviews to help you make your fleet greener and more efficient. EST’s Green Fleet Reviews are usually available at no cost for most private and public sector organisations and are paid for by the UK Government to promote energy efficiency goals. Green Fleet Reviews identify opportunities to reduce emissions, fuel costs and expenditure.
To apply for a Green Fleet Review email email@example.com
EST also offer a series of best practice guides.
And a ‘Fleet Healthcheck’ tool which uses the answers to a five minute questionnaire to give some indicative answers of the type that a full review would provide.
Training drivers in eco-driving techniques can save fuel and reduce emissions. In summary this consists of teaching drivers how to drive with more anticipation of road conditions and more consideration of fuel economy.
Benchmark and Set Targets
The cheapest form of energy is the energy you do not use. Simply switching things off when not in use or using more efficient products, such as LED lights, saves money.
Energy prices increase at a rate that far exceeds inflation, so a 20 per cent reduction in your energy costs can represent the same benefit as a five per cent increase in sales.
Businesses can also sign up to demand side response schemes, which incentivise moving energy consumption to off-peak hours.
Check your bills to understand your consumption and set targets to keep lowering demand.
The Carbon Trust has an online resource to help SME businesses calculate their carbon footprint to aid baselining your emissions.
Switch to Renewable Energy Backed by REGO Certificates
REGOs – or Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin – assures that the origin of the energy supplied to you is 100% renewably sourced. Using the GHG Protocol market-based calculation method to work out your carbon footprint focuses on the fuel mix of your electricity supplies. Consequently, if you use renewable energy your emissions for electricity will be zero! THESWITCH gives more information on green energy tariffs and the providers offering them. This is a rapidly evolving marketplace, so even if you cannot switch immediately be sure to check periodically as to what opportunities are out there for your business.
Increase the Efficiency of your Office Lighting
Changing lighting across a building to more energy efficient options such as LED can make a big difference and is a quick win with long lasting effects. Where possible ensure that natural light is used when adequate. Many offices are artificially lit unnecessarily. Natural light saves energy and has been found to improve sleep and avoid health risks associated with unnatural lighting, such as an elevated stress response.
Solar shading and transparent film can be used to help, by minimising glare and excessive heat. There is also an array of technology available, such as motion sensors which will automatically ensure lights are switched off if rooms are not in use. Dimmable lights are another method to ensure lights aren’t at their brightest maximum when not required. This should also help reduce electricity costs.