How many self-proclaimed ‘green’ or ‘environmentally friendly’ products or services have you used this week? I’d be willing to bet more than in the same week a year ago.
It seems to be more and more commonplace for companies to push their green credentials; when done properly, ‘green initiatives’ not only have a positive effect on the environment but also provide a strong selling point to the ever more environmentally-minded customer.
30% of global carbon emissions are caused by transportation, meaning reconsidering corporate travel options can have one of the biggest impacts on an organisation’s carbon footprint:
Encourage reduction in travel as much as possible: good virtual-working technology can reduce the number of meetings required to be held in person while reducing the associated travel. Initial investments in reliable VOIP software and meeting room camera and screen technology has a short payback period due to the time and travel costs saved. Encouraging flexible working options such as more days spent working from home can also have a large impact on the total carbon emitted as well as happier employees;
Air travel is the most polluting forms of transport: consider if a trip is really necessary or are alternative travel / meeting options available;
Encourage car-sharing schemes and use of public transport: this has a secondary benefit or reducing the total car parking area required;
Provide EV charging stations in company car parks: better charging infrastructure encourages faster adoption of the greener technology and can provide revenue from the electricity purchased through the station.
Office energy use:
Small investments in technology such as smart lighting and more efficient use of air-conditioning can vastly reduce energy use, quickly paying for themselves by reducing energy bills.
Installing solar cells or small wind turbines on office buildings is another effective way to reduce power consumption. These can have a longer payback period than some of the other suggestions in this article, although this is decreasing all the time due to increasing efficiency and falling costs. There are a number of payment structures to consider when making renewable installations, including zero upfront-cost options where external solar companies rent your roof space to place photovoltaic cells on. If situated in a rented property, encourage your landlord to look into installing renewable power generation.
Carbon offset schemes
Do you know the carbon-footprint of your company? Tools such as Carbon Fund’s emissions calculator can help estimate this based on the input of information on office space, business travel, events, paper and shipping use. With the total carbon emissions known, you can look at offsetting this. We previously wrote about the importance of looking carefully at the carbon-offsetting schemes available as there is a broad range of effectiveness. At Form, we use a great scheme from SolarAid which offsets carbon by providing families in Africa access to solar lamps to replace polluting kerosene lamps.
Of course not every suggestion above will be applicable to every company but there are always changes that can improve efficiency and the volume of carbon emitted.