Energy adviser Peter Gudde's simple guide to improving your company's environmental impact
So, you run your own business, you are snowed under trying to keep things going and your customers are saying they want you to cut your carbon footprint, whatever that means. Or your employees have seen on the news about terrible weather events abroad linked to climate and wondering what they could do. Or you have been told that your energy bills will be going up next month because of a global gas crisis.
Whatever your motivations, dealing with your business environmental impact is a triple bottom line winner.
By that, I mean done effectively you will reduce your environmental footprint, it will benefit your standing in your community as well as those in your supply chain, and finally, it will deliver financial value.
So what are going to do? Do you know where to start? Your time is a precious commodity and searching around the internet can be a fool’s errand in everyone’s book, surely. Well, this fool has done the errand for you to chase down a straightforward, no-nonsense plan and some outside help you can trust.
First the plan. Dare I say it, in my time I have seen more plans and step-by-step ‘How to…’ guides to cut business carbon emissions than anyone would dare wish. Like all good things, my favourite is locally sourced from the Groundwork East team based in Suffolk. Groundwork helps to deliver business energy advice and support to businesses across Norfolk and Suffolk. I have cheated and made it even simpler since the editor is breathing down my neck saying get on with.
Three simple steps, then, to start you on your Net Zero journey.
Step One: Hunt out your energy, waste and water bills. How much money do you spend on each of these? You could be flash and see how many units you use but to be frank, money talks not kilowatts or carbon and if you drop the BEE Anglia team an email, they may be able walk you through carbon calculations to work out your footprint. I could do it for you now, but the editor has got that red pen out with a mean look.
Step Two: Look around, see where your money is being spent on energy and start with the biggest numbers. Heating your building, filling up the van, or keeping equipment ticking over. Focus on whichever is the biggest spend first to take control. Can you turn things off, put better controls in, change your delivery routes, cut out unnecessary journeys to existing customers by using virtual meetings, or find replacement equipment that is more energy or water efficient and at the same time cuts down on your business waste?
If there’s no spare cash to spend, don’t rule any ideas out just yet. There will be at least one thing that will cost you nothing to change which will save you time, money and improve your credentials.
Step three: Get generating to replace the fossil fuels you use to heat and power your business or run your vehicles. This step will need some financing but depending on your approach this it could create a saving that pays back your investment or there may be someone who will invest and take the return while you get the carbon savings.
Replacing petrol or diesel cars with electric equivalents is now cost-effective on a whole vehicle life basis and there are discounts and public support schemes to help install charging points into your buildings.
Solar power is now technology, if sized and installed right, makes commercial sense but be careful about things like Business Rates, which I know is an ongoing concern for businesses. Renewable heating still needs some financial support and we have seen the non-domestic incentive tariff disappear last year. We wait for its replacement, the Clean Heat Grant, which should start next spring. This should help take the edge of the initial capital cost of things like heat pumps both for UK homeowners and businesses. Generally, grants come and go, so be ready with those ideas I mentioned at Step One.
All this will need some knowledge of the technologies and how they can be incorporated into your business. I have cheated a lot with my simple three step plan. No more time here today as I have been given the final hurry up by the editor who is standing by his printing press.
For business energy advice and support, visit www.beeanglia.org, call 01473 350370 or e-mail email@example.com
To sign up to hear more if you are a business or community group, use your favourite search engine to find the Local Energy Showcase at Whersted Park, Ipswich on the 21st and 22nd October 2021.
-- Peter Gudde is an energy adviser and environmental researcher