Hints & Tips Blog

Creating the climate for greener SMEs

As we navigate our way out of the Covid crisis, many are warning that the next crisis, that of global warming and a climate emergency, is just around the corner if not already here.

Many large corporates, prompted by looming Government targets, media scrutiny and increased customer focus on their ‘green‘ credentials, have already developed sustainability or ‘net-zero’ strategies. And a survey by the British Standards Institution (BSI) earlier this year found 7 out of 10 business leaders said their company has made or is considering making, a solid commitment to achieving the government’s 2050 net-zero goal. However, that same survey reported that just one in five small businesses has committed to a net-zero target.

Given that SMEs have far fewer resources and have all been exercised with the small matter of navigating through the pandemic over the last 18 months, it’s perhaps not surprising that reducing carbon emissions may have taken a back seat to pressing concerns such as the survival of the business and the immediate health and welfare of employees.

However official figures also show that business and industry account for 25% of UK territorial emissions, with just under half of these emissions from SMEs, meaning SMEs could play a vital role in the UK’s journey to net zero. And critically many of the options for reducing emissions are also good for efficiency more broadly and therefore the bottom line.

So, given the potential financial, as well as environmental, benefits of reducing emissions, plus the likelihood of increasingly punitive regulations and legislation for those who don’t, what can SMEs do to play their part?

In this and our next insights piece, we’ll share several ideas ranging from those that are straightforward and easily implemented, to longer-term options that our customers, and employees, may demand in the future. And if you supply larger companies or public sector organisations your environmental credentials and plans for reducing your carbon footprint may just be one of your competitive advantages in the tender selection and contracting process as well.

Starting small
There are plenty of small steps that over time end up going a long way towards reducing emissions. These include:

  • Turning the office thermostat down by 1°C, which has the added benefit of reducing annual heating bills by up to 8%.
  • Upgrading from conventional lighting to LED bulbs could deliver cost savings of up to 80% and the use of energy-efficient automatic lighting can provide still further cost savings.
  • Adopting a company-wide switch off policy. Even in ‘service businesses’ energy consumption can be high. Printers left on standby, coffee machines left on, computers left on overnight, phone chargers left plugged in, these are all small things that can add up to a big difference. Leaving 50 computers on overnight for a year would create enough carbon dioxide to fill a double-decker bus – and cost a business over £600 a year.
  • Install a smart meter.
  • Another simple carbon reduction opportunity with a high impact is to move to a green electricity tariff that is backed with Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) certificates.

In our next Business Insights, we will look at more ways for your business to reduce its carbon footprint, and potentially increase profits at the same time.

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.