5 ways to make your small business more environmentally sustainable
Whether its shaking up your supply chain or going paperless, this guide offers advice on how you can make your business better for now, and the future
Small businesses which embrace environmental sustainability can not only reduce overall costs over the long term but also bolster reputations and even positively impact the lives of the workforce.
Here are a few tips to make that happen.
Your premises are the first part of ensuring your business can operate environmentally efficiently.
Your office is the place where you and your staff spend most of your time and, depending on your sector, it’s likely the place where your energy needs are their highest (which means costs too).
Businesses are increasingly embracing sustainability because it not only boosts your “green” credentials, and therefore has a positive impact on reputation, but it can significantly decrease costs.
There are a number of methods to increase the efficiency of your office building, for example, seek to utilise as much natural light as possible. A more open-plan office will allow for more natural light. Interior walls should only be added where absolutely necessary with the increasingly popular glass wall used to provide privacy but maintaining natural light throughout. This will reduce your need for interior lighting but where illumination is needed, low energy LEDs offer a 75% reduction in running costs over standard bulbs.
Compliment these efforts with improving insulation to reduce the amount of heating required to maintain the temperature within the office space. Consider individual heating and cooling units to ensure any empty rooms are not wasting energy.
A sustainable supply chain
As well as taking care of your sustainability approach in-house, to exhibit “green” business best practices you also need to look at your supply chain. This will form part of your process of continuous optimisation and is the only way to fully practice climate protection and responsibility on a daily basis.
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It’s up to you who you deal with but you should consider their green credentials and their impact on the environment. For example, if you’re working with a supplier that is involved in the procurement of wood, you should explore what that supplier is doing to preserve the world’s forests. While wood is a renewable resource, the supplier must consider the impact of mining this resource on the environment and the habitats that rely on it.
Certain companies take on eco-friendly approaches. These approaches can take many forms, and it’s worth researching carbon-neutral options rather than working with than non-eco-conscious alternatives.
Companies seeking to enhance their sustainable credentials would also look to work with suppliers who boast The Blue Angel stamp of approval. This signifies a company’s efforts to protect the wider environment including health, water supply and other resources.
Indeed, successful integration of a sustainable supply chain can enhance other efforts such as risk and waste costs.
Introducing renewable technology
There is an abundance of renewable energy technologies that your business can make use of to improve your green credentials.
Solar and wind energy, for example, are more accessible than ever with some energy suppliers specialising in these sources as well as hydro, wave, tidal and biogas.
Although buying energy through green suppliers is slightly more expensive than fossil fuel-based energy, 81% of UK residents support renewable sources according to recent research by the Department of Energy & Climate Change. That means promoting your business as one which uses 100% renewable sources will likely boost reputation.
If you’re a business with larges offices, the opportunities to add to your sustainability commitment is significant. For example, your roof space can be used for “green” roofs (ideal for keeping the heat in and the cold out when required) or a solar panel array (providing a free source of energy to take pressure off your need to buy power from the Grid). This requires major investment but your business will get a return on your investment over time.
Workforce and culture
Encouraging staff to turn off lights at the end of a day’s work seems like a simple thing but it can reduce your business’ energy bills significantly over the course of a year. It sets into motion a change of attitude, encouraging the workforce to think “green”.
This can also positively impact people’s lives outside the workplace such as ways to reduce energy bills at home.
As well as small measures like this, you can build sustainability into your office culture by adopting measures such as encouraging car sharing to reduce the use of single-occupant vehicles and therefore helping to limit the polluting impact of cars.
This can be extended to putting in place incentives for green commuting – like using a bicycle or travelling via public transport – as well as home-working when travel is not absolutely necessary.
Offices are increasingly paperless, but paper is still a major cause of concern for any business committed to sustainable best practice.
These are just a few of the ways your business can become more environmentally efficient and bolster green goals.
Advantages to reputation are one thing, but a business with sustainability built-in can have a positive impact on the workforce and crucially reduce costs over the long term.