As the issue of environmental decline grows, and gains more and more media exposure, there is a growing pressure on the human population to start taking greater responsibility for the impact they have on the world around them. None feel this pressure more so than businesses, whose carbon footprints are considerable compared to that of an individual. Many businesses are rising to this challenge, with 46% of those that are UK based putting plans in place to become carbon neutral in the next few years, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Perhaps you’ve already started thinking about minimising the role your business plays, or maybe this article will provide the inspiration you need to join in with this commendable campaign. Either way, we’re here to help you avoid some of the common mistakes many businesses make when it comes to reducing their carbon footprint.

Renewable Energy

First things first, who provides the energy supply to your company? For most businesses, utility providers are one of the major drains on funds, considering that every business premises tends to be in operation for at least five days a week, eight hours a day, housing multiple members of staff who each contribute toward energy consumption in a variety of ways. Whether it’s through the use of appliances, electrical equipments, lights, heating, (the list goes on), it puts a considerable strain on the environment. This is your first mistake.

Luckily, there is a solution. There are now a number of forward thinking companies who specialise in supplying renewable energy. Traditionally, as a population we have sourced our energy from fossil fuels which will not only run out one day, but which also, during the extraction and production process, produce huge amounts of harmful chemicals. These chemicals eat into the protective ozone layer surrounding the earth; allowing the sun’s rays to penetrate more deeply and, therefore, cause gradual global warming.

In contrast, renewable energy is produced from, you guessed it, renewable sources. For example, solar panels convert heat from the sun, specialised dams convert kinetic energy from naturally flowing water, and wind turbines convert wind speed into energy. These life changing technological developments are no longer in their initial stages of development; they are being used far and wide to produce huge levels of power at a vastly reduced cost to the environment. So, stick with renewable energy providers to take a huge chunk out of your business’ carbon footprint.

As well as the power you’re pumping into your business premises, the premises themselves can have a big impact on how close you are to becoming carbon neutral. There are certain measures that you need to put in place in order to ensure that your surroundings are protecting the energy in use. For example, correct insulation and careful opening and closing of windows and doors can reduce needless energy wastage, saving the environment and your pocket! Lighting is another key way in which you can cut your emissions. Prisere, a disaster-relief organisation, installed low-energy LED lighting throughout its premises which resulted in their monthly energy bill being reduced by 40%.

One way to make sure that your business premises are environmentally friendly is to check out the EPC attached to the property. The EPC, or Energy Performance Certificate gives the property a rating in terms of its energy efficiency, highlighting any areas in need of improvement and suggesting solutions. Similarly, making sure you’re using efficient appliances can have a big impact on your energy usage. Older appliances, particularly boilers, haven’t had to meet the new standards put in place to protect the environment and, therefore, tend to be huge energy guzzlers. Swapping these out for their more recent counterparts is another great way to cut down on your business’ energy consumption.

Reduce Travel

As an employer, you have limited control over how your staff chose to travel to and from their workplace, whoever, there are some measures you can take. It is well known that taking public transport creates far fewer carbon emissions per person than an individual taking their own vehicle by themselves. While you can’t insist that your employees use public transport to get to work, you can influence this decision by making sure that you choose business premises in central locations. This gives staff the option of using public transport rather than being restricted to their car in order to reach far flung areas that are off the beaten trap.

Furthermore, you can encourage responsible travel choices by organising car share schemes or cycle to work reward policies. If you do want to go down this route, providing facilities such as showers can help to facilitate your staff in choosing the healthier choice, both for them and the environment.

Paper-Free

You may have heard this term, as it is a carbon friendly approach that is being favoured by many businesses as part of their carbon neutral policies. Going paper-free means switching to all digital forms of communication. So, for example, rather than sending out letters, businesses will insist that they and their customers use email, calls or live chat services which are far less harmful. Similarly, rather than posting out brochures and leaflets, they will make better use of their websites to provide all the information their customers might need.

As well as communication channels, part of becoming paper-free is considering the way in which you use office resources. For example, could staff be encouraged to use digital documents for note making, and could company wide announcements be made via a digital platform? Similarly, could pay slips go digital too?

When it comes to digitising your business, there is so much remote help available that it can also be a great way to cut staffing costs. For example, you can outsource call handling and your website’s live chat service to a remote team that you can pay per minute of the time they spend. This is far more financially efficient than hiring full time members of staff, who may not always be needed.

Responsible Website Hosting

Now onto something you may not have heard of, website hosting. Chances are you have used one of the more well-known website template providers such as Wordpress to create your company website, however, although this is a digital platform, there are ways in which you can make it even more environmentally friendly. Nowadays, some companies that provide platforms for websites are starting to take greater responsibly for their carbon footprint. They store their huge amount of electrical equipment in warehouses, where it all produces so much heat that intensive, electrical cooling systems are required to keep temperatures down.

While this is difficult to avoid, the more responsible providers are offsetting their carbon emissions, for example, by paying for the generation of the same amount of energy to go back into the grid, but from renewable sources. By choosing these providers to supply you with your website you are, in turn, ensuing that this balance continues, as well as your own.

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle

And finally, the most well known tactic of them all, reducing, re-using and recycling. By now we should all be well versed on these processes in our home lives, and now it’s time to incorporate these crucial methods into our businesses too. You can start by providing separate bins for staff to use, and any products you source, for example any food and drink that you supply, could now be sourced from suppliers who use recycled packaging materials. The same can be said for office supplies as there are now plenty of companies that specialise in environmentally friendly stationery.

Swapping single use products for those that can be reused is another easy option, for example if you provide bottled water for staff, you could instead provide them with own refillable water bottles. Reducing the amount of materials wasted is crucial too, for example you could provide washable rather than disposable uniform items.

Energy emissions are in decline, in fact, they are down by nearly two thirds since 1990 which is fantastic, but there’s still a long way to go before we can rest safe in the knowledge that our planet and our futures are protected. So, it’s time to play your part by avoiding these common mistakes, whether that’s swapping to more responsible energy suppliers and website hosts, steering clear of energy guzzling premises and equipment, going paper-free or simply reducing, re-using and recycling.

 

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