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:
- Apply for a fully funded energy efficiency audit of your premises via the Tees Valley Combined Authority scheme at SME Energy Efficiency Scheme (SMEES) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). You may also qualify for a grant towards any energy efficiency work recommended.
- 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)
- Install movement sensors for lighting in areas not occupied all the time like kitchen areas, toilets and corridors
- Review heating – boiler efficiency less than 90%, investigate alternative heating sources
- Look at business specific equipment – older equipment will be less efficient and cost more to run
- Do not leave equipment on standby overnight or at weekends (the cost maybe small per unit but adds up over the year)
- 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 – The super-deduction allowance is the most attractive tax incentive for business investment ever offered by a British government. Your business can claim back up to 25p for every pound you invest in ‘qualifying’ machinery and equipment for two years from 1 April 2021.
- 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.
- 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?
- Could waste paper be shredded and used as packaging?
- Ensure there are separate recycling bins for staff to use.
- 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 but also 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 – could staff work from home more?
- 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. See all capital allowances here Claim capital allowances: Business cars – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
- Suggest staff consider car sharing to save money and emissions
- Consider train journeys in place of flights within the UK
- Review other vehicles such as forklifts, golf buggies and diggers – there are electric versions of all of these, and running costs 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?