The UK Government has just announced a commitment to a ‘net zero’ target, reducing carbon emissions to zero by 2050 by switching to renewable and low carbon energy sources, greener heating and swapping diesel and petrol vehicles to electric counterparts within the next twenty years.
But whilst politicians and large corporations are being pressured into taking action to combat climate change and improve their green credentials, what does the issue mean for small and medium businesses?
Increasingly, as well as the larger corporations, SMEs are also expected to demonstrate their commitment to the environment. This pressure is two-fold: consumers with heightened awareness and expectations are demanding more, but also larger organisations are strengthening their supply chain standards and expect their suppliers to comply with their own CSR agenda.
Becoming more sustainable is a broad topic with plenty of opportunities and areas to target, but when it comes to energy, there are simple steps that organisations of all sizes can take to act.
More and more energy suppliers are able to offer renewable energy tariffs, enabling businesses of all sizes to proudly state that their supply is from 100% renewable sources and share the good news with customers and community alike.
With such a range of suppliers and tariffs available on the market, it pays to seek out independent advice to check the market and secure the best price for your energy to avoid paying over the odds. This means that cost can remain king, whilst also providing a point of differentiation for your business that appeals to clients and consumers alike.
From manufacturers to service providers, many SMEs are only too aware of the need to comply with stricter supply chain standards to demonstrate sustainability efforts to larger organisations with specific criteria.
Storytelling is important here and should address both the fuel type that you’ve chosen as well as any measures you have taken to actually reduce the amount of energy that your business uses, as this demonstrates an attractive commitment to operating responsibly. Many larger corporations are heavily focused on energy reduction, so an opportunity to demonstrate a common ethos and journey is often welcomed.
The greenest unit of energy is the one you don’t use and investing in energy efficiency can deliver big financial savings for your business – as well as making a large dent on your business’ carbon footprint. From new, more efficient lighting in retail units to energy efficient refrigeration units in the catering industry, the cost of new equipment could swiftly be repaid by savings on the bill: in fact, official estimates state that the average SME could reduce their energy bill by around a fifth by installing energy efficiency measures, with an average payback of less than 1.5 years. Government is currently looking into how to support more SMEs to boost their energy efficiency, so cutting carbon could be even easier in the years to come.
Simple steps such as encouraging staff to switch off lighting and office equipment can add up to serious savings, without costing any money to implement. More examples and top tips to cut down your energy usage can be found here.
Smart meters are currently being rolled out across the country, with gas and electricity meters in businesses and homes set to be switched to smart energy meters within the next couple of years.
These meters could make a big difference, giving all businesses access to energy usage data to help spot ways to cut consumption. For instance, high usage overnight could be an indication that equipment is being left on unnecessarily. Smart meters will also automatically send meter readings to an energy supplier, making estimated bills and manual meter reads a thing of the past. If your business has not already been contacted, you could get in touch with your energy supplier to request a smart meter for free.
This year, more than 11,000 businesses will need to comply with a new energy reporting scheme. The Streamlined Energy & Carbon Reporting (SECR) framework requires organisations with either 250 or more employees or a turnover of £36 million and balance sheet total of £18 million to publish their annual emissions and energy use in their annual company reports.Whilst this legislation is not intended to capture SMEs, a few are likely to be meet the eligibility criteria and some that are not captured may still decide to use the same measurement process as part of a voluntary carbon management programme. You can find out more about SECR and whether your organisation will need to comply here.
No matter your business size or focus, it’s clear that there are some quick wins when it comes to operating more sustainably. To learn more about the options available for your business – whether it’s renewable electricity or energy reduction tips – our experts are on-hand to help! Get in touch today on 0800 408 1499 or email us for more information.