What can businesses do to help?
Businesses of all sizes around the UK are committed to reducing carbon emissions in response to climate change. Whether it’s looking at buildings, vehicles or the wider supply chain; businesses can make a difference to future proof for climate change while helping the planet
Measure and Analyse Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Emission reporting is a key action for any businesses who want to better understand their impact, and to make real changes for the environment.
The first step for any company that wants to reduce its impact on the planet and the environment, and therefore help to reduce climate change, is to measure its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). There are many private agencies that are carbon footprint certified and that can help companies measure their CO2 emissions.
Once GHG emissions are known, they must be analysed to see which of the company’s activities produce the highest levels of pollutants. Once this analysis is done, companies can then begin to consider solutions to reduce their emissions.
There are also several online tools that can help SMEs to begin to consider their organisational footprint:
A useful starting point is Emission Possible guide, produced by WWF.This beginners guide to emissions reporting includes an overview of reporting protocol and covers terms most commonly used such as Scope 1, 2 & 3, as well as sector-specific recommendations.
The Carbon Trust have developed a Carbon Footprint Calculator which is designed to help UK based SMEs begin to calculate their corporate Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.
Further information on emission reporting standards can be found at the Greenhouse Gas Protocol website.
Set Emission Reduction Targets
Setting targets for future emissions is a great way to keep track of and ultimately reduce emissions. The UK has targets to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 and to reach ‘net zero’ by 2050. Net zero means that you are putting no more carbon into the atmosphere than you are taking out of it. Businesses of any size can make the Net Zero commitment today and can find many more resources to help at the Business Climate Hub.
Reducing Energy Consumption
There are many simple changes that businesses can make to significantly lower energy consumption and emissions, and these changes can be made right away. Turning the heating down by just one degree and ensuring thermostats are set correctly can make a significant difference to energy consumption. Other changes such as turning the air conditioning off when a window or door is open; and keeping radiators free from obstructions, are simple but highly effective solutions.
When it comes to managing buildings; ensuring proper insulation of windows, walls, doors, roof, chimneys and pipes will reduce energy use, cut emissions and energy bills. Another option to consider is upgrading conventional lighting to LED bulbs which last longer and reduce maintenance costs. Installing lighting controls that automatically switch or dim lighting can increase energy savings.
By paying more attention to other daily routine actions, businesses can reduce their energy consumption and emissions. Smart meters can also help businesses take control of their energy use and costs, learn more at Smart Energy GB.
Switch to Renewable Energy
Switching to renewable energy is a highly significant step small businesses can take to reduce their carbon footprint. Businesses can choose a green energy tariff, so that their energy supplier puts the same amount of electricity used back onto the National Grid from renewable sources. A higher demand from businesses will mean a greener fuel mix on the grid as a whole. Businesses can also consider generating their own renewable energy by installing solar panels; or switching from a gas boiler to a low carbon alternative such as a heat pump.
Another way to reduce the climate footprint of a business is to reduce the amount of waste generated in the first place.
Businesses can reduce the amount of packaging, promote the use of recycled materials, minimise single use plastics, focus on sustainable textiles, have smart storage for perishable goods, provide clear labelling for disposal and recycling, repair electronics instead of repurchasing. There are plenty of possible solutions.
The WRAP website is an excellent resource to explore strategies to tackle waste.
Optimise Employees’ Transportation
Businesses can reduce their impact on the environment by allowing employees to make changes to how they work and travel. Encouraging employees to cycle to work, use public transport or carpool with colleagues can significantly reduce emissions and our climate change impact. Supporting employees with a cycle to work scheme, offering discounts on public transport and providing flexible home working opportunities are just some of the options.
Choose Greener Infrastructure and Equipment
It is also possible to choose more environment-friendly infrastructures and equipment. In this way, companies can set up a fleet of hybrid or electric vehicles to upgrade their company cars to the latest environmental standards. For further information, Go Ultra Low provide a selection of useful tools for businesses. The resource highlights what vehicles might be the right choice for your business and details the long term costs, savings and the government incentives available.
Or, when the time comes to buy new printers, air conditioners, laptops, screens, bulbs or office materials, if the old ones can’t be fixed or more are needed, choose the most efficient (energy-wise) and sustainable ones.