Top Tips for Businesses Looking to Go Green
Corporate Environmental and Social Responsibility (CESR) is an area that is increasingly important for businesses to develop and promote. An increasing number of our clients are asking us what they can do to make a difference and it is clear this is not just a hot topic of conversation, but an important one.
Businesses with well-evidenced CESR not only reduce their own carbon footprints but can often also achieve cost savings, improve their supply chains, win more work and find greater success with recruitment and retention of staff.
This article sets out some top tips for businesses looking to go green, detailing how they can learn more about their own environmental impact and how to reduce it.
- Measuring Carbon Footprints
For a business to be able to reduce its carbon footprint, it is necessary to first establish a starting point and then identify where changes can be made.
Broadly, carbon emissions are categorised into three scopes. The first scope covers direct emissions that result from activities within an organisation’s control, such as manufacturing and emissions from the business itself. The second scope then covers indirect emissions from any electricity, heat or steam purchased and used by a business – although the business itself is not directly in control of the emissions here, by using the energy it is indirectly responsible for the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The third and final scope comprises any other indirect emissions from sources outside of the direct control of the business, such as purchased goods and services, employee commuting and business travel, waste disposal and consumables.
There are a high number of resources and organisations whose goal is to assist in these calculations and will be able to adapt to fit the requirements of individual businesses.
- Reducing Energy Consumption
Potentially the easiest way for businesses to reduce their environmental impact is to look at energy usage within the organisation and find areas where energy may be currently being wasted and where efficiencies can be made.
Lighting is a popular culprit here. Simply turning off lights when rooms are empty or powering them by way of a timer or sensor, along with switching to LED lighting when existing bulbs need replacing can have a significant impact on energy usage.
Turning heating systems down by only one or two degrees can also save a surprising amount of energy without sacrificing the comfort of staff.
Kettles can be a big source of wasted electricity. An immediate fix is to ensure that kettles are only filled with the amount of water needed – over-filled kettles require much more energy to heat the water. Alternatively, for a more long-term solution, hot water taps are a much more energy-efficient method of making those mid-morning cups of tea.
All of these steps reduce energy consumption and is an important top tip for businesses looking to go green.
- Switch to Green Energy
For businesses in a position to choose their energy supplier, it is often worth switching to a green tariff. Green tariffs will match energy you consume with renewable energy, increasing the percentage of green energy in the national supply. As more renewable energy projects are completed and more people sign up to these tariffs, the cheaper these tariffs become.
Businesses with roof space or land suitable for installing solar can benefit from significantly reduced electricity costs by installing solar panels which could perhaps also be used to power EV charge points for visitors and staff in car parking spaces.
- Reduce Waste
Reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill and recycling is another way in which businesses can reduce their environmental impact.
Simply by taking a look at the various aspects of the business will reveal areas where waste can be avoided. A great example of this is the use of disposable cutlery and cups for employees. Switching to reusable utensils and crockery will prevent a significant amount of waste being produced.
Becoming a paper-light business is another valuable step. Many businesses print on large amounts of paper, a significant percentage of which is thrown away within a very short amount of time. By pausing to consider the necessity of printing, businesses can easily reduce the amount of paper used, thus reducing the amount of waste produced and also saving money as less paper will need to be purchased.
- Staff Initiatives and Engagement
Businesses looking to go green can introduce a number of initiatives to staff, all with the aim of encouraging them as individuals to take steps to become greener.
It is worth speaking to employees and identifying existing areas in which staff are acting sustainably to determine levels of engagement and what initiatives will work best in individual businesses.
Examples of such initiatives might include a car share scheme for businesses where large numbers of individuals travel to work by car, or contributions to public transport costs or perhaps cycle to work schemes where appropriate. Reducing the number of cars on the road is one way in which businesses and also individuals can reduce their carbon footprint.
Many businesses looking to go green already offer charity or CSR days whereby employees are allowed extra days of leave to participate in a charitable event. This could perhaps be expanded to include sustainability events where employees can take an extra day’s leave to take part in, say, a beach or park clean or a recycling event.
- Carbon Offsetting
Once businesses have established their carbon footprint and taken steps to reduce emissions where possible, carbon offsetting can be beneficial for counteracting any remaining emissions. This often involves investing in projects designed to support clean energy technologies or improving carbon capture through the planting of trees.
Carbon offsetting alone is not a fix for climate change but is one way of compensating for unavoidable emissions and is a positive step for those businesses looking to go green.
What is GA Solicitors doing?
Organisations are reflecting on their business practices and making changes to secure a cleaner, greener future for their businesses, employees and their local communities.
We, like many of our clients, are striving to reduce our carbon footprint and have already taken positive action to make changes across our business. These range from recycling to cycle schemes to lighting. You can read more about our steps and why we think it important here.