Top green initiatives for business
Environmental concerns are now high on the agenda of many businesses across the world, and as a result, a rising number of companies are implementing green initiatives. But what exactly are businesses doing to be more eco-friendly, and why are these measures so important? Here, we explore these issues, and we also look at what specific types of organisations – from schools to hotels – can do to help protect the planet.
What are green initiatives?
Put simply, a green initiative is a project or plan intended to help protect the environment. Businesses are implementing diverse green initiatives around the world in a bid to reduce their carbon footprints and protect natural resources. From recycling initiatives to making the switch to green energy sources, there are a wide range of things that companies can do.
Why are green initiatives important?
These measures are important for a number of reasons. For example, they can help to:
Combat global warming – In 2019, the UK became the first major economy in the world to pass legislation requiring it to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Reducing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted is crucial in order to control global warming. Once in the atmosphere, gases such as carbon dioxide trap some of the sun’s energy, preventing it from being radiated back into space. This causes temperatures to increase, and there are fears this could lead to a range of devastating effects, including rising sea levels and increased droughts, flooding, storms and heatwaves. In 2018, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report suggested that “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes” are needed in all aspects of society in order to prevent temperatures from rising too much.
Green initiatives that lower businesses’ carbon footprints may play a significant role in helping to limit global warming.
Reduce our reliance on finite resources – As a planet, we are currently heavily dependent on fossil fuels including coal, oil and gas. These energy sources are non-renewable, meaning that the planet has a limited supply. Experts disagree on exactly when we may exhaust these resources, but many give an approximate date of 2060. It’s therefore essential that we find effective ways to transition away from these fuels before they run out.
An increasing number of companies are turning to renewable energy sources as part of their bid to be more eco-friendly. By definition, these resources naturally replenish.
Enhancing businesses’ corporate image – As well as the environmental reasons for implementing green initiatives, there is also a strong business case for taking these steps. According to the Carbon Trust, 61 per cent of people are more likely to buy from a company if it has a good reputation for reducing its impact on climate change. And it’s not just consumers who are paying attention to this issue. Figures cited by Green Mark suggest that business tenders now allocate up to 10 per cent of their scores to green issues. By demonstrating their commitment to environmentally sustainability policies, businesses may therefore benefit from a more positive brand image and increased sales.
Green initiatives for businesses
There are a wide variety of green initiatives that businesses can implement. For example, if you’re looking for ways to make your company more eco-friendly, you may wish to:
Make the switch to renewable energy sources – It’s now easier than ever to access green energy packages. As well as the selection of specialist green energy providers operating in the market, many mainstream providers now offer green energy tariffs that allow you to purchase all of your electricity and gas from renewable sources. This energy can come from sources including wind turbines, solar panels, hydropower stations and biomass plants. Making the switch to green energy is quick and easy, and the team here at Utility Bidder can help.
Arrange energy audits – Ofgem suggests that energy costs are likely to rise by as much as 40 per cent over the next decade. So as well as thinking about where you source your energy from, it’s important to consider how you use these resources. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to waste potentially large amounts of power as a result of inefficiencies. Spotting areas where your company is squandering energy can be difficult, which is why it may help to carry out regular energy audits. These audits monitor the amount of power you use in your workplace, and they can be accurate enough to track individual pieces of equipment and machinery. They allow you to see at a glance where you may be using excessive energy, and this can be your first step in making your premises more energy efficient. From turning down your heating and air conditioning system, to replacing inefficient appliances, to turning equipment off when you’re not using it, there may be a whole range of ways that you can lower your power usage.
Increase recycling, and reduce waste – As a business, you might find that you get through a lot of resources, from plastics and paper to chemicals. It’s important to take advantage of the recycling schemes available to you in order to prevent as much of this waste as possible from ending up in landfill. You may also be able to find ways to reduce the amount of waste you create in the first place. A big part of this is educating employees in the importance of preserving resources.
Focus on green procurement – ‘Green procurement’ refers to purchasing goods and services that cause minimal environmental impact. For example, buying recyclable products and equipment that is designed to reduce energy or water consumption.
Become recognised as a green business – So that your customer base is aware of the efforts you are making to go green, it can be extremely useful to gain official accreditation that recognises the steps you are taking. For example, businesses can obtain the Green Mark, which is an internationally recognised environmental accreditation and a route to ISO 14001. If your company gains this certification, you will be provided with a set of marketing tools designed to help you promote your achievements in environmental sustainability.
Take advantage of government support – There are various forms of government support available to businesses to help make them more environmentally responsible. This includes loans and grants that can help to fund the purchase of energy efficient equipment, as well as other government-sponsored initiatives such as the provision of free business advice on this topic. The types of support open to your organisation will depend on a range of factors, including your location, the project you are planning and the nature of your business. Finding and applying for government support can seem daunting, but you can discover more about your options online. For example, you can visit the GOV.UK finance and support finder to get more information.
Specific measures for different types of organisation
The measures outlined above are generic and can be adopted by a wide range of businesses and other organisations. Below, we’ve outlined some more specific measures that can be used by particular types of organisation.
Green initiatives for schools
There are many things schools can do to become more eco-friendly. For example, they can ‘green’ the school run by arranging walking buses that see children walk to school in groups chaperoned by adults. They can also take care to source canteen food locally and ethically to limit the carbon footprint of school meals, and they can get students involved in recycling and upcycling projects.
Green initiatives for the office
In today’s digital age, many offices are still using paper simply out of habit. Making the switch to paperless systems can significantly cut waste. To help keep electricity usage to a minimum, it’s a good idea to maximise the use of natural light. Also, it pays to educate staff about the importance of switching appliances such as printers and PCs off when they’re not in use.
Green initiatives for hotels
Hotels tend to be big water users. To address this, they can install technology such as sink aerators and low-flow showerheads. They can also encourage guests to reuse towels in order to cut down on laundry. Some hotels are encouraging guests to ditch their cars in favour of green transportation, for example by making bikes available or providing shuttle bus services to the city centre and airport. Installing occupancy sensors in guest rooms that control lights, electronics and temperature settings can help too.
Green initiatives for restaurants
Some level of food waste is often unavoidable in restaurants, but by using digital inventory management tools and highlighting expiration dates on produce, eateries can minimise this. They can also donate surplus food. Another thing these businesses can do is to choose energy efficient appliances such as ovens, hobs, freezers and dishwashers. Using in-season ingredients with low food miles can also make restaurants greener.
How do I start a green initiative at work?
Starting a green initiative at work can be daunting, but don’t let this put you off. The key is to devise an effective plan that is suitable for your particular organisation, and to spend time educating and persuading your colleagues to get on board. Buy-in from co-workers is key to getting these measures to work. To help with this process, it often pays to involve your colleagues at the ideas stage so that they feel fully invested in it. This can also help to ensure that your green initiatives are as strong and effective as possible.
What about the cost implications of going green?
With minimising costs such a focus for many businesses, particularly now in these challenging economic times, you might be wondering about the cost implications of becoming more environmentally friendly as an organisation. After all, certain measures – such as making your building more energy efficient or upgrading your recycling facilities – will cost money upfront. However, over the long term, many of these changes could save you potentially significant sums of money – for example by lowering your energy bills.
As mentioned previously, it’s also vital to consider the positive impact that going green could have on your business’ reputation, and the effect this could have on sales. A recent global study by Nielsen found that more than eight in 10 people polled said it is extremely or very important that companies implement policies to improve the environment. By being proactive in this area, you could help to secure the long term popularity and success of your business.