When environmental issues first hit the headlines back in the late 1970s the concept of going green was alien to most businesses. Since then, the world has pulled together and created all kinds of initiatives and programs to help slow the effects of global warming.
From a simple paper recycling bin in offices, through to full scale carbon offsetting for large manufacturers, each year people are finding more resourceful ways to lower the amount of waste sent to landfill, reduce carbon footprints and be more responsible for the environment.
Going green is not simply good for the planet – here’s why it’s good for business too:
There has never been a better time to shout about your company's green credentials.
Consumers in the UK are very aware of the importance of addressing environmental issues, from the bigger picture of climate change (8 in 10 believe it is important for the UK to stick to its obligations under the 2015 Paris Agreement 1), to the use of recycled materials (93% think that plastic bottles should be made of recycled materials 2). An increasing percentage of consumers are adjusting their buying habits to reflect these views too (6% rise in organic produce sales 3). Given this, you can imagine the benefits to your brand reputation that advertising your efforts to "go green" can bring.
Whether you have adopted a policy of only using sustainable materials in your production, or gone for something a little simpler like car-pooling on the way to work – people want to hear that their potential suppliers are taking environmental issues seriously.
One of the best methods of making the public aware of your commitment to environmental issues is with a press release. Prepare a statement that leads with the changes that you have made in your business and outlines your reasoning. Include quotes that outline your personal feelings about green business practices and finish off with the differences the move has made both to you and your customers.
Save money and resources
There is a myth that customers pay more for sustainable energy generation and product manufacture. While the cost of early adoption of any technology can be high at first, the price tends to fall over time as new and more cost-effective production methods are found. The price of solar panels for example has dropped considerably over the years 4, with the set up cost of most installations being covered in the first 5-7 years of usage.
Not only is this a sustainable method of powering your company’s lights and appliances, but the government will also pay you a set rate for every kilowatt of excess energy you produce (if you install solar panels before the cut-off date of March 31st 2019) through the Feed-in-Tariff 5.
Energy generation is not the only use for renewable. Many modern day sustainable technologies have the ability to provide your business premises with heat all through the year. There’s even the potential for businesses to make money here too, with the Non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive 6.
Creating new business opportunities
An increasing number of larger organisations and government agencies 7 now require their suppliers to demonstrate a commitment to environmental issues, including sustainable sourcing and waste reduction. Subsequently, many application forms for tenders and accreditation schemes (such as CHAS and Constructionline) have specific sections that request proof of your company’s green policies and procedures.
Some go further, requiring businesses to implement ISO 14001 - the internationally-recognised Standard for environmental management. By implementing ISO 14001 you are pre-qualified for many business tenders and contracts, with this international management system verifying your green credentials. Additionally, accreditation to ISO 14001 is one of the best ways to show your customers and stakeholders that you are taking ecological issues seriously.
Building a better future
Using clean and sustainable forms of energy is likely to set your business ahead of the pack, but it also helps support renewable providers. Your revenue is used to create profits that can fund additional developments ranging from increased solar panel farms through to massive ventures like offshore wind farms.
The use of wind power is rapidly expanding, which even now is beginning to replace North Sea oil and gas production. In March 19th 2018 a record for wind power was set with 36.9% of the UK's power being generated entirely by wind 8. This is up on the 15% in 2017, and 5% in 2016.
In all walks of life there are early adopters whose actions spur others into contribution. By implementing green policies and procedures into your business there’s a very good chance you’ll inspire others into similar actions. Don’t be surprised if you see both your supporters and competitors following your lead.
Whether or not you decide to implement green energy generation for your business, you can still get involved with many other environmentally conscious activities. All it takes is a little attention to the details and forethought and you can make your business greener very easily and quickly.
There are many recyclable materials used by all businesses, including many plastics that specialist companies reprocess for use and even old office furniture could be free-cycled through the web.
Energy savings can even be made in day to day activities. If you have a delivery driver make sure that you are sending them on the shortest possible route to cut down on your fossil fuel consumption and on a sunny day why not open the windows or even work outside, rather than running the energy guzzling air conditioning unit?
There’s also so many suppliers out there now with a commitment to sustainability, it’s possible to support other businesses that care about environmental issues without paying over the odds.
For more tips on being a greener business, read our ten tips to improve environmental credentials in business.
1.ClientEarth/YouGov - ClientEarth's Climate Snapshot ↩
2.Veolia - Plan for plastics ↩
3.The Guardian - 2017 figures for organic food and drink sales ↩
4.Lazard - Cost of Energy Analysis ↩
5.Ofgem - FIT scheme ↩
6.Ofgem - Non-domestic RHI scheme ↩
7.Environment Agency - Procurement requirements ↩
8.Independant - UK sets new wind power record ↩
Originally published on Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 by Michelle W.