Are Your Business Practices Costing the Earth?

Business Insights

There is a quiet revolution going on as businesses wake up to the benefits of eco-friendly policies.

Although in a challenging economic climate, there are some who are question whether there is still room for “going green”. The business response is definitive and emphatic: green is not just complementary to growth, but is a vital driver of it. And not just for companies traditionally defined as “green”.

Companies who develop sustainability plans with regards to energy efficiency and reduction of environmental impact are recognised by financial and investment analysts, with top finance executives revealing in one study that they believed their companies would increase revenue through strong sustainability initiatives.

There is a raft of measures to help businesses reduce their carbon footprint, some more costly to implement than others, switching to energy saving light bulbs, installing intelligent lighting, lower ceilings, extra insulation, and modern double glazing will help existing buildings use less energy. The benefits of alternative energy such as ground source heat pumps and solar panels, with the attractive additional benefit of the Feed in Tariff, are well documented.

Innovations in new building techniques, especially those advocated under BREEAM, the leading and most widely used environmental assessment method for buildings, which sets the standard for best practice in sustainable design and has become the de facto measure used to describe a building’s environmental performance, are resulting in beautiful high technology buildings designed from the ground up to conserve energy.

Many of these measures will attract government grants or loans, the green revolution is here and spreading!

For transport, whether one man and a van, or a fleet, changing to hybrid vehicles where appropriate, installing GPS tracking to monitor mileage and driver behaviour, shared loads to reduce mileage, the clued up are already cutting their transport costs dramatically.

Looking into the daily practices of your business can yield dividends too, leading to simple initiatives such as the last man, or woman, out making sure that all the lights are off, using both sides of a sheet of paper in the photocopier or printer, and on the subject of paper, using some of the green printing alternatives. Recycling the waste from manufacturing, engineering or high use paper based business can result not just in a pleasant feeling of virtue but a cost benefit too.

Getting the staff “on-side” may be easier than you suppose. As far back as 2007 a survey of UK workers found that 69% believed it was highly important their employers were environmentally responsible while a further 40% said they would refuse a job with an eco-unfriendly company.

They also favoured ‘green’ company benefits, like incentives to switch to a sustainable energy provider, discounts on environmentally friendly products and subsidised fares for public transport.

The combination of companies with active corporate environmental and social programmes and the staff wanting to work for those ‘doing the right thing’ makes a pretty strong combination, resulting in high levels of loyalty and staff retention.

Now it seems those findings have been heard the world over and companies who adopted eco-business practices also reporting falls in day-to-day running costs and productivity rises.

This positive trend is expected to continue but we cannot expect it to happen on its own. A smarter and more strategic policy approach is needed to unlock business investment, drive markets, and excite consumers.

With a smarter approach, green business could add £20bn to the UK economy by 2018/19. This is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.

For UK business, climate change is no longer a threat to be feared, but an opportunity to grow the economy and lead the world – and by tackling it, we can make energy safer and more plentiful for all

The UK government has set a target for 2020 of cutting carbon emissions to 34% below 1990 levels. The UK's energy infrastructure needs £200bn in investment over 20 years. That means this must be the decade of delivery.

Tackling climate change means using energy more efficiently, future-proofing businesses against climate threats and moving business operations towards carbon neutrality. Only by enabling the market to develop the solutions we need will we achieve these goals.