Making your business more energy efficient and sustainable will save you money as well as help the environment. Businesses focusing on being more sustainable are becoming the consumer choice. Many of the things that residents can do to reduce their outputs also apply to businesses. As well as this, here are some things it might be possible for your businesses to do:
Energy efficiency is key from both a financial and environmental point of view. There are many steps which may help here including:
- Ask your energy supplier to provide you with a smart meter to ensure energy usage is constantly managed.
- Insulation and double glazing checked and improved (fabric first)
- Upgrade lighting to LEDs (60%+ saving on lighting bills going forward)
- When upgrading lighting, install movement sensors for lighting in areas not occupied all the time like kitchen areas, toilets and corridors
- Review heating – if you have a gas boiler with efficiency less than 90%, investigate alternative heating sources
- Record monthly energy usage and display this on staff notice boards, comparing to last month and last year. Provide this information to your staff to share the responsibility of wise energy usage.
- Consider installing renewable energy options – solar PV, solar thermal and heat pumps.
- Calculate your business’ carbon footprint using The SME Carbon Footprint Calculator | The Carbon Trust
Apply the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – consider how you can apply this to as many aspects of your business as possible. This is a fundamental of being environmentally friendly.
- Install separate recycling bins for staff to use, contrary to what people believe, this needs to be no more expensive for a business.
- Think about the products you use and whether they are sustainable. Can they be recycled? Think about ways that materials could be reused – could unwanted paper be shredded and used as packaging for products being posted for example?
- Could your business go paper-free?
- If you have waste material from a production line, consider how this could be used elsewhere.
If your business has fleet vehicles, consider fitting a telematics system which will give you information about where the vehicles go and the way in which they are driven. Telematics systems can help you analyse unnecessary journeys and other ways in which you can reduce the fuel that you use.
- Reduce commuting wherever possible – hybrid working developed during Covid is a good starting point.
- Where travel is essential, consider zero emissions cars for your business; there are first year allowances for business cars available from April 2021. The government will extend first year allowances for zero-emission vehicles only and apply the main rate writing down allowance (WDA) of 18% to cars with emissions up to 50g/km. First year allowances for zero-emission goods vehicles will also be extended. This means you can claim capital allowances on cars you buy and use in your business and can deduct part of the value from your profits before you pay tax.
- In addition, staff with company electric vehicles only pay 2% company car tax until 2025 (the rate increases by 1% each year until 2028 after that)
- Consider installing EV chargers for staff use – this can either be charged for or provided free of charge (currently there is no tax payable by staff to receive this as a benefit). There are Government grants available through the Workplace Charging Scheme of up to £350 per charger to a maximum of 40 chargers across multiple sites available to businesses.
- Suggest staff consider car sharing to save money and emissions for all.
- Consider train journeys in place of flights within the UK – these are often just as quick if you include waiting time, and it is much easier to work on a train.
- If road and/or air travel are unavoidable, consider supporting a carbon offsetting scheme.
- Review other vehicles such as forklifts, line painters, golf buggies, mowers and diggers – there are electric versions of all of these, and running costs and carbon emissions are much lower than fossil fuel versions.
- Read more about Common Misconceptions about electric vehicles
- Use electricity meters to find which equipment uses the most energy. See if you can use those appliances more efficiently, or switch to energy-efficient alternatives.
- Ensure that you energy provider gets their energy from renewable forms such as solar or wind.
Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO’s) are a certificate issued by Ofgem which show that electricity has been generated from a renewable source. Look for suppliers who can provided REGO certificates to back up claims that their energy is from a renewable source.
- Re-examine your suppliers; are they committed to sustainability as well?
- Energy monitoring plugs are a cost-effective way to find which office equipment uses the most energy. See if you can use those appliances more efficiently, or switch to energy efficient alternatives.
- Review all business specific equipment – older equipment will be less efficient and cost more to run.
- Avoid leaving equipment on standby overnight or at weekends (the cost maybe small per unit but adds up over the year)
- Compressors should be checked regularly for leaks, turned off when not required and consider variable speed compressors, which are much more energy efficient.
- If you are using second hand or older equipment such as freezers, coffee machines etc, check how energy efficient your model is. It may be more cost effective in the long run to replace with a newer, more energy efficient model.