The need to act on climate change has never been more visible. Scotland, like many towns, cities and countries around the world, has declared a climate emergency. Thousands of young people around Scotland and across the globe have taken part in school strikes, to demand urgent action on climate change. The Scottish Government has amended its climate change bill and set a target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2045.
Taking action to reduce your business’s carbon emissions by using resources more efficiently and reducing energy use isn’t just good for the planet though – it’s great for your bottom line too. In fact, our advisers typically find that Scottish SMEs can easily slash a massive 24% off their energy costs.
If your business is operating out of rented premises, it can be easy to assume that you can’t take any action – after all, many of the big energy savings come from making building upgrades, such as improving insulation, heating and lighting or installing renewables. But that’s not always the case.
In this blog post, we look at some simple, no and low-cost actions your business can take to reduce its resource use, boost profits and play its part in beating climate change. And, we look at how you may be able to work with your landlord, in the right way and at the right time, to make even bigger changes too.
Big cost and carbon savings can often be made without the need for any changes to your premises whatsoever. Engaging staff is one way you can do this – you may be able to take big strides by simply motivating staff to make small behaviour changes. You know the kind of thing – switching equipment off when it’s not needed, recycling better, reporting leaks and so on.
A great way to get the ball rolling is to set up a Green Team. Having a group of dedicated individuals who are responsible for the business’s green initiatives, targets and keeping up momentum is a fantastic way to create a buzz and steer your journey to becoming more resource efficient.
You’ll find everything you need to set up a Green Team in our staff engagement toolkit. In this you’ll also find free staff training resources and materials that will enable you to run fun staff engagement campaigns, such as our ‘switch off’ and ‘leak reporting’ campaign materials.
We also recommend that you upskill one or two key personnel in your green team – our free, CPD-certified training course has been designed to help you do just that.
Even if you don’t own your premises, you’ll no doubt be buying materials that are needed to run your business – whether its raw materials for production processes, IT equipment or office supplies.
Sustainable procurement is an approach that enables you to influence your supply chain, helping you make informed purchasing choices by knowing more about where the products and services you purchase are made, so that their environmental impact is minimised.
There are many benefits for your business if you buy sustainably – reducing costs, enhancing corporate image and minimising supply chain risks.
In your office for instance, instead of buying ‘normal paper’, why not opt for recycled or thinner paper? Ditch the plastic pockets and choose paper re-usable ones instead? Designate a cupboard as the stationery library to encourage sharing and reduced purchasing requirements.
Another way to identify costs and carbon emission without making any changes to your premises is to look at the actual processes and equipment you use in your business. Sometimes very large savings can be made.
For example, Ayrshire-based textile producer Robert Mackie of Scotland Ltd has purchased four new computer numerically controlled (CNC) knitting machines that produce textiles more energy efficiently and to the correct shape and size. As well as reducing waste and increasing production, the new equipment is saving the business over £96,000 a year and reducing annual carbon emission by 40.8 tonnes.
And it’s not just manufacturers with energy-intensive processes that can save. By upgrading IT equipment, offices up and down the country can save too – just like MBM print did. Convenience stores can also save by upgrading refrigeration equipment, as Goldenacre Mini Market did.
The point is, there are a lot of things you can change in the way you do things and the equipment you use. So, take a step back and see what you can do. Or better still, if you’re a Scottish SME, just ask one of our advisers to do it for you for free.
No-one enjoys paying for things they are not using. Yet many businesses unnecessarily run their heating and electrical equipment when premises are unoccupied. This can lead to significant, needless bills being run up.
It’s easy to check your heating and lighting controls to see if they’re on an appropriate timer setting or check to see what’s being left on at night or weekends with a quick walkaround. Good measuring and monitoring, which can be done with our free template, can help you stay in control of your energy use in the long term.
Even if your business doesn’t own its premises, making upgrades can still very often be financially viable.
Improvements like heating and lighting upgrades can have a rapid payback, and if your tenant agreement permits, there’s merit in acting if you have a sufficiently long-term lease agreement in place that will allow you to enjoy the savings. Again, if you’re a Scottish SME, our advisers can help you estimate the costs, savings and payback period of recommended upgrades, to help your decision making.
Even if you don’t have a long lease, our advice can be used to engage your landlord to encourage them to pay for the upgrades themselves. This can be something worth doing when your lease is up for renewal as part of your negotiations so that upgrades can be incorporated into your new agreement. At the end of the day, your landlord will be improving and future-proofing the building – and reducing carbon emissions.
So, there you have it, a number of simple, no and low-cost actions your business can take to reduce its resource use, boost profits and play its part in beating climate change.
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Our free support to business is funded by the Scottish Government and by the European Regional Development Fund through the £73 million Resource Efficiency Circular Economy Accelerator Programme.