Hints & Tips Blog

Creating the climate for greener SMEs – part 2

In our last Business Insights, we looked at why now is the time for SMEs to embrace action to reduce their carbon footprint and suggested some small but important first steps you can take.

And given 78% of SMEs surveyed in a Zurich Insurance Group global SME survey said they expected risks associated with climate change to have a significant effect on their business, self-interest as well as a broader environmental concern both provide good reasons to act.

Perhaps reassuringly, a survey last year by the Carbon Trust found that 80% of SMEs said they are taking action on energy efficiency, with more than half also saying they wanted to do more. However, the same survey also found that 68% of SMEs do not have a consistently documented and implemented energy policy, and a lack of time and money were seen as key barriers.

So, once you’ve done the little things, what else can you do to reduce your impact and manage your emissions?

Understand your Carbon Footprint
If you want to reduce your footprint, first you need to know what it is. There are many organisations that can offer guidance and support for SMEs who want to do this, from The Carbon Trust and the SME Climate Hub to the CBI.

There are a few questions to consider such as;

  • Which parts of my organisation do I need to collect data from?
  • Which activities in my organisation release Green House Gas (GHG) emissions?
  • What information should I collect from these activities to calculate my GHG emissions?
  • How do I calculate my GHG emissions?
  • How do I track my emissions over time?
  • Should I get my emissions data verified?
  • Should I set an emissions reduction target?
  • Should I offset any emissions I can’t eradicate?

After all, like anything in business, if you don’t have a clear plan and goals, it’s unlikely you’ll get the right results. Once you identify the main source of your emissions, you can then look at ways to reduce them. And there’s also an increasing number of companies and providers who can do a Carbon Assessment for you.

What are other companies doing?
Some large companies are committing to high profile projects such as;

  • The John Lewis Partnership’s pledge to turn their 500 strong fleet of diesel trucks into bio-methane clean machines by 2028, saving more than 49,000 tonnes of CO2every year.
  • Amazon announcing it has signed a deal to power its UK buildings with 100% renewable energy, as well as planning to deploy up to 20MW of large-scale rooftop solar systems on 10 of its fulfilment centres in the UK over the coming 18 months.

SMEs are unlikely to have the resources or scale to deliver such high impact changes, but then individually do not produce as many emissions as each of their large corporate cousins. But nonetheless, there are things SMEs are doing, that also makes good business sense.

The 3 Rs: ‘Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle’ are the most fundamental starting points for any company intending to curb carbon emissions. So, assessing how you can do more of these is a good place to start. While the pandemic has already kickstarted us into less commuting and fewer business trips whether by road, air, or rail, it’s worth evaluating as we open back up – which meetings and trips are essential in person and which can we ditch?

Other options include;

  • Using sustainable office furniture
  • Making sure you have energy-efficient appliances
  • Speeding up your transfer of company vehicles to electric
  • Introducing cycle to work schemes
  • Minimising single-use plastic and printing.

Offsetting the emissions, you can’t eradicate.
We will never be able to eliminate our carbon emissions entirely, but we can offset them. Carbon offsetting schemes include woodland creation and planting trees, installing renewable energy solutions in communities, investing in biodiversity and conservation, or recycling schemes to support waste management.

But a word of warning – make sure you engage with a genuine scheme. According to the Environment Agency, there are currently only two accredited carbon offsetting standards in the UK: the Woodland Carbon Code and the Peatland Code. And verified Woodland Carbon Credits for example can be used to support your business’ claims of carbon neutrality.


Our team at BHP Consulting have all successfully run businesses, and we understand that every business is unique. Our practical approach to supporting our clients enables us to share our real-world experience to positively impact on the performance of your business. To arrange a call or an exploratory face-to-face meeting, please click here.