World Environment Day: How green is your business?
Can your business save money and the environment at the same time? To mark World Environment Day (external link), we take a look at some small changes you can make to running your business that could help your company become more efficient while having a positive impact on the environment.
When you have a business to run, saving energy might not be at the top of your to-do list. But just a few small changes to the way you work can reduce your bills and could even help your business to stand out from the competition.
Energy-efficiency should be a no-brainer as far as the Carbon Trust (external link) is concerned. “Energy prices have doubled in the last 10 years and are predicted to rise by a further 50% by the end of the decade,” says a spokesperson.
“But few people realise that energy isn’t a fixed cost and simple changes can bring bills down and help to increase the profitability of a business.” In fact, the Carbon Trust calculates that a 20% cut in energy costs represents the same bottom line benefit as a 5% increase in sales for many businesses. So there are clear reasons for taking steps to reduce energy usage.
Know your energy usage
Before you can begin to make changes, your first step is to work out how much energy you use and where the wastage is. There are plenty of online calculators to help work out your carbon footprint and bigger companies can use the footprinting services offered by the Carbon Trust (external link) and The Carbon Neutral Company (external link).
But for most small companies, particularly anyone with a home-based business, a quick walk-around survey is sufficient. The Carbon Trust has a guide to carrying out a survey, including a checklist of what to look out for.
If you’re based at home, try the Government’s interactive guide (external link) to energy usage in the home.
You may be surprised by what you find. Lighting and equipment left on overnight, overheating, poor insulation and an old boiler can waste energy as well as money. Did you know that:
- A computer and flatscreen monitor left on 24-hours a day will cost around £50 a year to run
- heating costs rise by about 8% for every 1°C of overheating*
- replacing just one lightbulb with an energy-efficient one can save you on average £3 a year**
- the annual cost of running a computer can be reduced to less than £15 by turning it off, or putting it on standby? This will prolong its life, too.*
These might not sound like big savings, but they all add up.
Make your business stand out
It’s not just the cost savings that can benefit your business. If you take steps to demonstrate your eco-credentials it can help you stand out from competitors. Clearly, your business offering has to be up to scratch too, but if it comes to choosing between one business and another, consumers may opt for the one that is helping to give something back.
Your carbon footprint, emissions and reductions can be verified by organisations like the Carbon Trust and The Carbon Neutral Company, but the cost and benefit don’t tend to match up for very small businesses, says a Carbon Trust spokesperson.
If you opt not to verify your business as green, you can still demonstrate that you are taking steps to reduce your carbon emissions. “It’s quite normal to have a page on a website that sets out green credentials,” says the Carbon Trust. “You don’t have to stop at carbon emissions, either.”
“It can’t hurt to tell people about your waste reduction and recycling policy and steps you’ve taken to reduce water consumption.” Perhaps you walk or cycle to work, or encourage car sharing. Whatever you do, it’s time to shout about it. You never know, other businesses may follow your example.
World Environment Day is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment.
Businesses can get tax allowances (external link) for buying energy-efficient equipment
Energy Saving Trust (external link) guides to saving energy around the home
Print out posters and stickers (external link) from the Carbon Trust
*The Carbon Trust
**Energy Saving Trust