Whether you’re the owner of a small, medium or large business, no organization can afford to ignore the impact their business practices have on the environment. With the UK parliament passing legislation to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 100% by 2050, the goal of becoming a net zero carbon emitter is no longer just a hypothetical.
“Net zero” simply refers to an even balance between emissions released and those actively removed from the atmosphere. Naturally, this means that the net zero goal can be reached by reducing emissions, actively removing carbon from the atmosphere, or a combination of both. Here’s how you can do your part.
Start with a business energy survey
Businesses of all kinds can make a difference, and it comes down to finding creative ways to stay profitable and relevant while respecting the pressing necessity of mitigating climate change. Net zero looks like many different things to different businesses, and no two companies are working with the same resources, limitations and timelines.
Nevertheless, a great starting point is to get a clear idea of where you and your business currently stand when it comes to emissions. A commercial energy audit is the obvious first step to take in increasing corporate environmental responsibility, but it also has the side effect of identifying inefficiencies, saving you money in the long run.
Hiring a professional assessor to audit your energy usage and emissions gives you a baseline from which to measure progress. Shop around to find a group that offers EPCs (energy performance certificates) detailed reports and actionable proposals that will give you a firm idea on what steps to take, especially when it comes to renewable energy.
Focus on transition, not perfection
Whatever net zero strategy you devise, you’ll need a comfortable and realistic time frame in which to reach your goals, both long term and intermediate. It can be difficult to make sweeping transformations overnight; instead, seek out support by joining a task group or coalition that will help you manage smaller tasks and challenges on your way to net zero.
As you reduce overall demand for energy while improving the efficiency of the energy you do consume, you’ll find a corresponding shift in attitude as well as the emergence of new, creative solutions in the meantime. It’s worth getting employees on board to encourage a complete change in the work environment, as well as solicit their input and advice, or even incentivize their participation in new initiatives.
Look at ways to go off grid
One way to reduce overall demand is to generate your own power where possible, such as with the investment into battery storage or the installation of solar power systems. While upfront costs can be high, your business will actually become more resilient, and, in the case of solar power, you may make impressive savings on the cost of electricity within a few short years. Some business owners are finding ways to sell surplus energy back to the grid, funnelling those profits back into maintenance of their renewable energy infrastructure or other green projects.
Invest in carbon capture
On the other side of the equation is carbon capture and storage, or CCS. The right technology can stop up to 90% of the carbon emissions generated from fossil fuels from going into the atmosphere, essentially bringing the carbon neutral goal closer. Carbon capturing technology is still admittedly in its early stages, but it’s worth paying attention to developments and even potentially investing in this area.
Small changes to business practice can make a big difference
Though recycling, reusing, switching to electric vehicles or improving your building’s energy efficiency may not seem like much in isolation, when combined they can have a significant effect. Even small changes, when consistent, can save hundreds or even thousands of kilograms of carbon from entering the atmosphere. No method of decarbonising your premises will be wasted, and even tiny changes can lead, incrementally, to big gains.
Depending on the nature and size of your organization, you can switch to a renewable energy provider (if solar panels are not in your budget), or commit to renting equipment rather than buying. A great tool to rent is a cardboard baler or shredder, or you could make general inquiries to better handle your business waste. In the office, commit to a paperless policy and encourage zero-waste packaging – there are now plenty of local, ethical suppliers with enviable green reputations to switch to. Reaching your own net zero carbon emission goal may seem daunting at first, but realistic, smaller initiatives will bring it firmly within your grasp.