Awareness of the many problems our environment is currently facing is on the rise, and with that comes a growing pressure to each play our own individual role in reducing our negative impact. But for business owners, in particular, there is a considerable responsibility attached to the choices you make and the consequences they can have. So how can you reduce your company’s carbon footprint and feel safe in the knowledge that you’re playing your part? We take a look at a few easy-to-achieve options that can set you on the right path towards becoming carbon negative.

Renewable Energy

First things first, you could ensure that any energy used by your premises is sourced renewably. Try switching to responsible energy providers such as Green Star and Ecotricity who produce their electricity through zero-carbon sources, as well as making the most of things like paperless billing to further reduce their footprint. Examples of green energy production are solar power, wind power and tidal power, so look out for providers who specialise in these. Alternatively, you could reduce your own carbon emissions by installing solar panels on your premises which would generate a portion of your electricity sustainably, with the added benefit of helping you to cut down on your expenses.

Reduce Travel

Travel, particularly by car or plane, can be extremely damaging to the environment thanks to the emissions created by burning fuel, in fact, it makes up around a fifth of all UK emissions. https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/articles/roadtransportandairemissions/2019-09-16 As a business owner, it’s important to reduce the number of journeys your staff have to take in order to fulfil their roles, as this will reduce the overall environmental impact of your company.

As an alternative to travel, try to integrate video calling between offices as much as possible in replacement of face to face meetings. If you want to go a step further, offering remote working as an option for your employees would drastically reduce the amount of travel they need to partake in.  Instead, they could simply video call in from home.

Thanks to the recent pandemic, far more people are now accustomed to using this kind of communication software, such as Microsoft Teams and Skype, so making this transition would be easier than you’d think. Just make sure to provide plenty of support to staff and clients if you do introduce this new way of working.

Finally, you could also organise a car share system that allows members of staff who do need to drive, to travel into work together instead, therefore reducing their carbon footprint. Encouraging the use of public transport is also a good idea as it further helps to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

Energy Performance Certificates

If you’re considering moving premises in the near future, think carefully about how environmentally friendly the buildings you have shortlisted are. One easy way to check this is to ask to see their EPCs, otherwise known as energy performance certificates. These assess the measures that have been taken to make sure a building does not waste energy, for example, the quality of windows that have been installed, and the age of the boiler. An EPC rating is a great indicator of how expensive your utility bills will be and, therefore, how much energy would be needed to run the premises. Even if you’re not currently considering a move, it might be worth doing so taking into account the financial savings you could make too.

Efficient Interiors

It’s not only your choice of premises that can have a big impact on your company’s carbon footprint; you can also take an environmentally responsible approach to what’s inside too. For example, many electrical appliances, such as printers and fridges, have a rating that tells you how green they are so that you can limit your negative impact on the environment. Lighting is another example of an internal feature that can have a big carbon footprint. Make sure to replace any bulbs with energy-efficient alternatives. For example, switching to compact fluorescent lamp bulbs can cut your energy usage by 80%.  https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/advice/lighting/ Additionally, try to emphasise to staff the importance of making sure all lights are switched off when they’re not needed, as not doing so is an underestimated energy drain.

Another way in which staff can contribute to a greener way of operating is through receiving training on how to use appliances like heaters and air conditioning efficiently. In so many offices, temperature controls are misused, resulting in unnecessary energy consumption. So, make sure your staff know how to set the heating and air conditioning using timers, which causes them to switch on and off at the most suitable times throughout the day, with the added input of a thermostat which helps to keep the temperature at a comfortable level. These will need to be altered at the start of each season too.

While making the most of windows and doors when it comes to keeping the office cool in summer is a great way to cut down on energy consumption, doing so during cooler months can have the opposite effect. Opening a window when you feel too warm, rather than taking the time to adjust the heating controls accordingly, is an all too common example of wasting energy. Try to enforce a more efficient approach to temperature regulation wherever possible.

While you are legally obliged to ensure that the working environment is comfortable for your employees, try to cut back where you can. For example, by increasing the temperature of the air conditioning unit slightly, you can reduce your carbon footprint significantly while also making sure it is still at a suitable temperature for your staff.

Become ‘Paper-Free’

One of the most common ways in which many businesses reduce their environmental impact is by going ‘paper-free’. This essentially means cutting down on the amount of paper you use by switching to digital solutions instead. For example, you can communicate solely via email rather than posting out letters to clients and staff. You can also make better use of your website by filling it full of useful information, which reduces the need for things like printed pamphlets and brochures.

Billing can also be done via email, and you can use specialised software for financial tasks such as payroll, that enables staff to access their documents via apps. As well as helping the environment, going ‘paper-free’ can also help you to cut costs significantly. No more paper orders and no need for expensive professional printers which, in turn, also helps you to cut down on distracting noise pollution in the office.

Sustainable Website Hosting

On first impressions, you might assume that your website is pretty environmentally friendly, and you’d be right for the most part; online tools are far greener than their paper-based alternatives. However, there are also actions you can take to reduce their carbon footprint too. Website hosting providers use data servers that are kept in warehouses and these are huge energy guzzlers. By hosting your website yourself you can reduce your carbon footprint significantly. Alternatively, there are a number of hosting providers that pride themselves on operating in a more environmentally friendly way, so you also have the option of simply switching, if you’re not tech-savvy.

Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!

Just as you would at home, it’s important to prioritise reusing and recycling at work. As humans, throughout the day we are ruled by habituation but by learning to pay attention to our habits we can become aware of the many environmentally harmful actions we take on a daily basis. Encouraging this new way of thinking amongst your employees, as a business owner, can really help to reduce the carbon footprint of your company.

Make sure to provide recycling bins in all of your premises. To give you an idea of the positive impact that this can have on the planet, by recycling one aluminium drink can you can save enough energy to power a television for three hours.  https://www.recyclingbins.co.uk/recycling-facts/ Also, be sure to source recycled products wherever possible. For example, you can now buy notepads made from recycled paper and even office furniture made from recycled materials. You can cut costs significantly at the same time too, by choosing to use refurbished hardware such as laptops and keyboards.

Food and Drink

If you’re a business that provides food for employees, whether that’s a full-scale canteen or a simple cold drinks fridge, there are plenty of choices you can make that will reduce the impact they have on the environment. Firstly, you can make sure the products you supply are sustainably sourced, whether that’s the food itself or its recycled packaging. Steer well clear of single-use plastics as these are one of the main contributors to our current environmental crisis. To help you make green choices when it comes to the food and drinks you supply, a range of logos can be found on products that help you to identify their origins.

Furthermore, try to source food and drinks from local providers so that you’re not contributing to the number of harmful emissions that can result from cross-country or cross-continent transport. This also helps to cut down on the number of harmful pesticides used in food production.

 

Now that we’ve given you plenty of ideas on how you can reduce your carbon footprint, it’s time to put your plan into action and play your part in saving our planet. As a business, the pressure to take responsibility for your environmental impact is growing, but this doesn’t have to be a burden; the steps we’ve mentioned above are easy to integrate and will help you to take pride in your contribution.

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