Businesses can still benefit from a greener approach

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In the latest UK200Group blog post, Suzanne Goldsmith, a Manager in Price Bailey’s Corporate team discusses the incentives and advantages for British businesses that adopt a more environmentally aware approach to the way they operate.

Suzanne Goldsmith
There hasn’t been too much to cheer for the UK’s environmental campaigners over the past year or two, as the slump in funding for UK clean energy projects, coupled with global decisions such as America’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, have cast something of a shadow over the push for a greener way of life for both individuals and industry.

But whatever the political machinations on the national and international stage, there are still plenty of incentives and advantages for British businesses that adopt a more environmentally aware approach to the way they operate. And for those businesses looking to seize the opportunity to save money, increase efficiency or improve the working lives of their staff, there’s also plenty of help and advice available – much of it for free.

Moving to renewables

Renewable energy has long been a key focus point for the UK Government and a number of incentive schemes remain to encourage businesses to switch to more environmentally friendly energy sources. These include:

• Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs) – not as generous as they were before the scheme was reworked in 2016, FiTs nevertheless still provide income for both households and businesses which opt for either renewable or low carbon electricity-generating technologies such as solar power, wind turbine or hydroelectricity systems. You can get more information about FiTs from the Energy Saving Trust.
• The Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) – a government environmental programme that provides financial incentives to increase the uptake of renewable heat generators such as biomass boilers, solar panels or renewable water heat pumps, by businesses, the public sector and non-profit organisations; those eligible can benefit from income for 20 years.

Improve energy efficiency

But renewables are not the only avenue to achieving a greener use of fuels. Increasing energy efficiency brings benefits both for the environment and for individual businesses, and there are plenty of agencies willing to provide free energy advice and assessments – including many of the major power suppliers (so ask yours first), and independent specialists such as Nexus Energy Solutions and Green Vision Energy.

One of the best places to start is the Carbon Trust, which administers the Green Business Fund, an energy efficiency support service for SMEs in England, Wales and Scotland. The Trust offers energy opportunity assessments to SMEs – currently paid for by the Fund – to identify energy saving opportunities, and help businesses develop a robust business case for the purchase of the appropriate equipment. The Trust can advise on implementation, help businesses to buy the right equipment, and make a capital contribution of up to £5,000 per company towards equipment purchase.

While green energy and environmental aims are pretty uniform across the country, the grants and funding opportunities for businesses to switch to renewables, improve their efficiency or reduce their carbon footprint will often vary significantly, as regional development agencies and many county or local councils often have particular grants available. Individual industry sectors also frequently have their own sources of finance for green projects, so if you’re looking for financial support to invest in green technology or practices, consider looking at your regional and industry schemes first.

One small step for man

Not every step towards a more environmental approach needs to be a big one – or require external funding. Some of the smallest measures can deliver significant savings and improvements, and are relatively simple to adopt. Campaign group Save the Earth recently identified ten affordable tips for creating a sustainable green business, including:

• Pull the plug – unless you’re already using smart power strips (which shut down power to products that go into standby mode), computers left on overnight unnecessarily draw energy for 168 hours a week instead of normal working hours, so there’s a potential annual energy cost saving of £30-£70 per computer.
• See the lights – if you haven’t already done so, switching to energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) can slash energy use by up to 75%, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
• Reuse and recycle – before you recycle, think about reusing. Simple steps such as double-sided printing or sharing printers across departments could bring major savings. And once you’ve got everything you can out of a product, recycle it – and where you can, replace with already recycled products, such as paper or refilled ink cartridges. According to Save the Earth, bad waste practices are costing UK Businesses in excess of £15 billion each year…

Get your staff onside

Finally, most attempts to become a greener business and reduce your company’s carbon footprint will require buy-in from your staff, so incentivise them to play their part. Some companies have run successful points schemes for those teams or employees who hit targets on issues such as reducing waste and saving energy. Those points can then be translated either into rewards for the team, or donations to their chosen charity. And, nearly 20 years after it was first introduced, the Government’s Cycle to Work scheme is still a great way of encouraging your staff to reduce their carbon footprint and adopt a healthier lifestyle, while saving some money into the bargain.

While the wider picture on renewable energy funding and global commitment to green initiatives may be uncertain, some things are clear – gas and electricity prices continue to rise, as do fuel prices, while natural resources are declining. Yet by adopting a greener approach for your business, there are opportunities to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and make a positive difference to the environment.

This post was written by Suzanne Goldsmith, a Manager in Price Bailey’s Corporate team. For further tips and advice head over to Price Bailey’s Business Leaders Blog .

Tags: UK200

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