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5 Ways to Reduce Your Business’s Carbon Footprint

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Last Updated on 2 November 2022.

Whether you’re a business owner or property manager, you’ve got a responsibility to maintain that building so it stays safe and legally compliant…

But let’s not forget about energy-efficiency.

It’s time to take a look at your company’s carbon footprint.

Before we dive into the five ways to reduce your business’s carbon footprint, let’s first answer a few key questions:

What exactly is a carbon footprint, and why is it important?

‘Carbon footprint’ means, essentially: how much do you contribute to greenhouse gases (GHG)?

Your “footprint” is usually measured in tons of Co2 per year, and can be attributed to a person, organisation or product to name a few.

The more tons of Co2 or the higher amount of GHG you have, of course the bigger your carbon footprint.

Therefore, you’re involved in, benefiting from or consuming things such as fossil fuels and manufactured goods.

When you consider buying from your local supermarket compared to a local green grocer supplied by the nearby farm, over a year your carbon footprint would be pretty high, just by eating produce from one over the other.

(Of course, this particular post isn’t about personal carbon reduction, but for businesses, but many of the tips you read in this article can, of course, be applied in both scenarios.)

How can I work out my company’s environmental impact?

Have you ever undertaken a carbon audit?

Every year, you (or your Office Manager/Finance Manager/Responsible Person) will likely be looking at the bills your business pays, sign renewals, do the necessary comparisons, and so on – in order to make sure you’re getting the best price.

Looking at your energy-efficiency is just as important, and with rising fuel and energy prices, the benefits are likely to go hand-in-hand.

There are two types of emissions:

  1. Direct emissions: Through directly owned/purposed means, such as company cars

2. Indirect emissions: Through purchases you make (so the direct emissions are on the company you get this from, but yours is indirect), which can be anything from taking flights to your electricity usage.

What can I use to help me work out my Co2 emissions?

From your purchases to your car journeys, there are number of tools online to help you calculate your carbon footprint, including:

Climate Hero’s Carbon Footprint Calculator

Greenhouse Gas Protocol’s Emissions Calculation Tool

Carbon Footprint’s Business Calculator

Carbon Trust’s SME Carbon Footprint Calculator / Energy Benchmark Tool

Or…if you fancy doing the workings yourself with a little guidance, there’s the Zero Business Carbon website.

(Alternatively, you can work with consultancies who can help you reduce your carbon footprint.)

What do I do once I know my Co2 emissions?

Once you’ve actually worked out what the Carbon Emissions are for your business, it’s a case of then:

  • Creating an Environmental Policy for your company
  • Implementing Co2 reduction measures and targets
  • Reporting on your performance on Co2 reduction

It’s a fantastic PR tool to know and promote the initiatives you’re running to be greener, as “energy efficiency”, “green energy” and “reducing your carbon footprint” are all buzzwords that have been around for a while but haven’t lost their spark!

As consumer knowledge and awareness becomes more prevalent on climate change, the companies who are demonstrating pro-activeness when it comes to being green(er) are likely to be favoured compared to their competitors.

So, don’t just do it – get the message out there!

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Is there funding available to help me make my business greener?

Grants and funds are being offered on rotation by a number of schemes, be it Government associated/endorsed or entirely independent.

One of which is LoCase (Low Carbon Across the South and East) which has helped 1,278 SMEs since starting up I 2016, and is due to be open presently until the Spring of 2023.

They’re offering grant contributions for “green projects” at a limit of £10k (minimum grant being £1k) for projects which qualify.

So, if you were delaying, for example, that LED lighting upgrade then now might be the time to look at getting that done, as you could get some money off doing it!

There will, of course, come a point where going green will become more mainstream and the incentives will be removed to pave way for taxation that’s currently being relieved to get people on board – so now is the right time to start futureproofing so that funding can be taken advantage of.

Check out the Government website for all current initiatives offering finance and support for your business, which you can select by finance support type, your industry and the area you sit within.

You can also take a look at Grants Online which offers a newsletter of UK and regional green funding opportunities which are cropping up.

What is ‘Carbon Literacy Training’?

Councils across the country are offering training schemes to educate and incentivise business personnel on the importance of climate action.

One of them is Carbon Literacy Training, offered in conjunction with the likes of Chelmsford City Council, which is completely free.

The aim is to offer training for everyday citizens to understand how climate change affects us: geographically, sectorally, socially, financially and so on.

It’s thought that by doing this training and becoming “Carbon Literate”, citizens are able to reduce their carbon footprint by 5-15% (per person) – that’s incredible!

Trainers are quality assessed or kite-marked, so although free, it is totally credible, and therefore definitely worth a look into.

Click here to download the ‘Introduction to Carbon Literacy’ pack.  

There are bound to be numerous other educational initiatives cropping up, so do keep an eye out and follow local groups, including your local council’s social pages to stay in the loop about their offerings.

Without further ado, here’s your 5 ways to reduce your business’s carbon footprint:

Infographic on making your business greeer

Tip 1: Recycle products

Recycle logo

It’s a pretty obvious one, but you’d be surprised how many businesses still haven’t got this sorted!

We’re not just talking about making sure sandwich boxes go in the paper recycling and cans don’t end up in the plastic (although if you haven’t replaced everyday waste with recycling then you should contact your local council to ask for the appropriate bins to be sent to you!).

We’re talking about all the bits and bobs in your business. So, things like your printers, computer equipment, kitchen equipment, break-out room furniture, and so on.

Try to maintain and repair business-use items, wherever possible, or considering if there’s a new home for it. You can even look to rent/lease certain tools rather than purchasing – all of which are going to have cost benefits for you, too.

If you own a business, it’s likely you’re part of groups and sharing networks, so you’re bound to find someone else who’ll appreciate them, if not within your personal network or at a local charity shop.

As well as being proactive about recycling, remember to engage your employees so they understand why they’re doing it, how it helps, and also try to make recycling as easy as possible.

If you feel pretty confident about your business’s recycling tendencies then conduct an audit (before the cleaners turn up!) to see as there could well be an improvement which, over time, could make a massive improvement.

Tip 2: Switch to LED

Woman holding an LED lightbulb

Did you know that lighting contributes up to 40% of a building’s electricity usage?

The benefits of moving to LED are astounding, and the upfront cost can be recuperated (we can tell you how quickly) before you know it, so you can then start to reap savings rewards from your energy bills.

LEDs have longer lifespans, have less of a fire risk, require less maintenance and are simply more environmentally friendly because they emit no heat compared to traditional bulbs.

That’s right – most of your lighting bills aren’t even going on lighting at all, but a by-product of that light due to the inefficiency of luminescent, filament or halogen bulbs.

We’ve recently written a fantastic post detailing all the ins-and-outs of upgrading to LED lighting, have a read of it here. Or watch this video to learn about how much you could save:

Find out what you'd save banner

Tip 3: Encourage other modes of transport

There’s room to have a lot of this, from Cycle to Work schemes or encouraging employees who live in or around the same area to carpool.

Of course, if your Sales Team are out and about all of the time on site visits with customers, it’s likely they’ll be driving around a company car. Or maybe your business relies on fleets of vehicles to go around and carry out services for your customers.

…So, maybe it’s time to start thinking about going electric, particularly considering the rising petrol and diesel prices.

The UK Government has already set a target of 2030 for the ban of new sales on petrol and diesel vehicles, so it’s going to be happening anyway.

In the meantime, if you do have to drive, The Energy Saving Trust provides guidance on how efficient driving can reduce carbon emissions.

Tip 4: Go paperless

Bin filled with paper

Opt for digital quotations, e-receipts and asking employees to print only if absolutely necessary.

By being diligent, you can save money by ensuring effective stock planning, too.

An extra step you could take could also be asking suppliers to reduce packaging delivered to you, which also prompts them to think about what their paper/cardboard usage is too, as well as the waste that comes from that.

Tip 5: Install EV chargers

Tesla electric car with an EV charging cable attached

We talked a little bit about transportation above, and there’s no denying that we’re going to start seeing more and more EVs and PHEVs on our roads over the next few years.

But even if you’ve not transitioned to an electric car yourself or an electric vehicle fleet in your business, doesn’t mean you should bin off the idea of getting EV chargers installed until you do!

Check out this infographic which offers 5 reasons why you can benefit from implementing charging points on your business’s premises now:

5 Reasons to Install EV Charging Now

The Workplace Charging Scheme covers up to 75% of the total costs of an EV charging point installation, which is capped at £350 per socket.

You can apply online, and then be given a unique voucher code which you’d then give your OZEV-approved installer (i.e. us!).

Savvy business owners are paying particular attention to the second on that list in the above infographic, which is charging for electricity usage.

There’s great software out there which can integrate with your accounting system so that you can track the usage and charge employees via their salaries, or set it to free for visitors.

You can also allow it so that your charger shows up on local EV charging point search maps for public use, where you can then set the rate to whatever you’d like. Some companies are doing this on weekends when their car parks are sitting empty – pretty cool, eh?

So, as well as being advantageous for future-proofing and catering to the growing EV/PHEV community, you’re also getting consistent income from it, making it an absolute no brainer!

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Looking for more information about how to take your business to greener pastures?

There’s loads of information in this digital brochure provided by Essex County Council on how to take climate action in your business, so take a look.

Do you have a business tip we’ve not included here for improving energy-efficiency? Comment below and tell us!

And why not reach out for a FREE 30-minute consultation to talk to us about things like upgrading to LED lighting or catering to electric car users with EV charging point installations?

Our team are here to help on 01277 724 653!

(And please help us spread the word about energy and cost savings by sharing this post on social media using the buttons below!)

Thanks for reading! And good luck on your journey to energy efficiency.

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