It’s not just members of the public looking into the size of their carbon footprint, but business are rightfully changing their ways too.
While the United States reneges on its responsibilities under the Paris Climate Agreement, fortunately many businesses are taking their role in protecting the environment more seriously and actively considering ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
Companies who have a positive environmental policy are often perceived more favourably by consumers, thereby strengthening their brand, and can also enjoy considerable financial savings, making their eco-friendly status a real win-win for all concerned.
A reduction in your business’ carbon footprint can be achieved by taking some simple and cost-effective steps:
Reduce your energy use
Energy consumption is widely-known to be the greatest cause of high carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere – for some businesses, as much as one half of their total carbon footprint can be the result of energy use.
Reducing energy consumption, therefore, should be a priority for all companies who wish to become eco-friendlier:
- Lighting: replace conventional office lights with LED bulbs which are more durable and use less energy. LED bulbs will also flood your office space with clear, bright light that isn’t harsh on the eyes; studies have suggested that employees feel more alert in this environment and productivity increases, so it’s not just the environment that could benefit.
- Power shutdowns: asking colleagues to remember to turn off lights and equipment when not in use may fall on deaf ears so install sensors and power shutdown controls so that electricity isn’t needlessly wasted.
- Heating: upgrading your building’s insulation will help to ensure that heat is retained for as long as possible, while having the heating system maintained regularly can maximise its efficiency. Also, consider turning down the temperature by a degree; your staff probably won’t even notice, but you’ll save money and reduce your carbon footprint in the process.
Energy suppliers have started rolling out smart meters, so you should invest in one. This is a little device which will allow you to see how much energy you are using and where the majority of your energy usage is coming from e.g. usage, helping you understand where you need to make cuts.
It’s not just about recycling
Offices are often renowned for the sheer volume of paper that crosses desks daily and it’s easy to forget that this has a significant impact on the environment.
The reduction of forests to produce paper products creates an imbalance in natural gases in the atmosphere while any waste that ends up in landfill sites produced harmful methane.
Your colleagues are probably fully aware of the need to recycle waste paper (although you should have clear policies in place that make effective recycling a requirement of everyone in the business).
But good practice starts before stock arrives in the building, so make sure that all paper products are made with recycled materials.
It’s easy to focus too narrowly on printer and photocopier paper which is used in abundance and to forget that other paper products also need to be eco-friendly.
For example, invest in a recycled notebook for everyone so that employees can keep their jottings in a compact, easy-to-reach place, instead of wasting large quantities of larger, more expensive paper.
Use technology to conduct meetings
Travel, by plane or car, is extremely damaging to the environment but, as technology improves, it’s becoming less necessary for employees to leave the workplace to get business done.
Video and audio conferencing is now less costly and of a much higher quality, so face-to-face meetings in a central location really can become a thing of the past.
Long distance road and air journeys should be reserved only for essential reasons, especially as superfast broadband means that important documents can be shared instantly, so there are limited reasons why conversations with colleagues in far-flung locations can’t be held in the comfort of your own office.
Where travel is a necessity, rewrite your company policy to promote the use of more eco-friendly transport such as trains.
Help your employees to travel more greenly
Large numbers of employees commuting to work in heavy traffic daily obviously contributes significantly to your company’s carbon footprint, yet some simple modifications to your business routines and facilities could help to promote eco-friendly ways of travelling:
- Allow flexible start and finish times so that colleagues can travel outside the rush hour to reduce journey times.
- Provide shower facilities and bike racks to encourage the use of bicycles instead of cars.
- If practical, allow employees to work from home on occasions.
- Implement a bicycle loan scheme whereby colleagues can take advantage of more affordable rates – or even offer a financial reward for those who sign up.
By taking these simple steps, you can be confident that your business will play its part in helping to reduce its carbon footprint and improve the environment for current and future generations.