You may be eco friendly at home in an effort to reduce bills and minimise energy wastage, but can you say the same about your approach in the workplace? All too often, employees can take a laid back attitude to being environmentally friendly, distracted by demands and deadlines. And with an Accenture survey of 250 senior executives in the UK, US, Germany, France, Brazil, China and India revealing that sustainability is one of their key issues for the business, it’s time to close the loop on employer intentions and employee reality.
Some 83% of respondents believed spending on sustainability was an investment rather than a cost, with 62% claiming their efforts to become more sustainable were the result of consumer demand, while just 40% were motivated by the need to comply with regulation. Similarly, a study by Deloitte found that 90% of companies have set targets for reducing energy consumption, with many of these motivated by the need to cut costs during the economic downturn. Taken together, these studies show that the corporate world has recognised the business case for sustainability.
So what can business owners do to make small but significant steps towards improving their eco-aware business practices? We’ve put together some ideas that don’t necessarily require a huge shift in your daily operations: perfect for getting staff motivated to take positive changes into their own hands.
Promote electricity awareness
Try to be aware of the electricity you use in your office. Computers should always be on their most energy efficient settings and lights should always be switched off in rooms that are not being used.
You should also check how energy efficient your lighting is and see how cost effective it would be to change it to be more energy efficient: note that if you’re renting serviced office space, this has likely already been done, but it can’t hurt to check! One easy way to improve lighting without spending money is to open up the office use natural light, which is proven to be a more ergonomic lighting option anyway.
Have a meat-free Monday in the office
With experts stating that the biggest single thing we could do to reduce our carbon footprint would be to eat less red meat, having a vegetarian day is a simple way to boost your green credentials. More and more evidence is coming to light that meat consumption actively contributes to environmental damage:
- 18% of greenhouse emissions come from animal agriculture – more than transport emissions combined (13%)
- 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of beef
- Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 33% of the freshwater consumed in the world
With these facts in mind, it makes sense to promote a meat free Monday in your office. Sell veggie meals in the work cafe, put a few signs up promoting the day and even consider organising a veggie pot-luck in the staffroom. It might take really take off, especially around the January health-kick!
Think About What Can Be Reduced, Reused and Recycled
Consider all the different resources used in the office and look at how it can be improved. Can you use electronics for notepads instead of paper? Do you need to use plastics like disposable cups and carrier bags or could you use a different product? Is there an office recycling scheme you can take part in? Take a broad look at everything used in the office and try to improve how eco-friendly it is. Look towards the paperless office revolution – there’s a reason every business is striving for it.
Here’s where being in a rented space really plays in your favour: you’re only paying for what you need, so if you make an effort to purchase and use eco-friendly products, then there’ll be very little temptation to slip back into bad habits.
The temperature in the office is always a debatable issue. A 2°C increase in office temperature creates enough CO2 in a year to fill a hot air balloon, so if your office gets a little hot at times, rather than opening a window, reduce your thermostat- you’ll save money too! Introducing an informal dress code can also help as staff can layer up or down as they please in keeping with the environment.
A greener workplace can mean a lighter footprint, a healthier and more productive place to work, and what’s more it’s good news for your bottom line.
Read up on government schemes and incentives
With plenty of advice out there on the types of funding your business could be eligible for, it’s no surprise that there’s an abundance of eco-aware schemes, especially those aimed at making eco-friendly decisions across small business needs. Working towards achieving a grant or an award can be a great way to get your staff involved in the project (especially if you make it worth their while!) so consider creating a committee or other group to get started. Here’s just some of the main grants and funding available:
Support service for SME companies in England, Wales and Scotland. Provides direct funded support through energy assessments, training workshops, equipment procurement support and up to £10,000 capital contribution per company towards your energy saving equipment purchase.
Environmental taxes encourage your business to operate in a more environmentally friendly way. There are taxes and schemes for different types and size of business that award tax relief if you can demonstrate you’re operating more efficiently and producing less damaging waste.
Operated by the Energy Saving Trust, this review can help identify areas where you can save on transport costs – average savings for businesses are over £13,000 per year! The Trust can also help employers reduce business transport costs and lower emissions, helping to meet carbon reduction commitments.
Know of any grants we’ve missed, or have any tips that’ve worked for you in the past? Let us know via the comments or by tweeting us at @EasyOffices_Com.