Carbon Audit Toolkit for Businesses
Why should my business get involved?
We are asking everyone who runs a business in Somerset to consider ways in which their business can help tackle climate change. Reducing the amount of energy that a business uses leads to a lower carbon footprint with less carbon emissions. Reducing carbon emissions will help Somerset to achieve its goal of being carbon neutral by 2030.
When a business reduces its carbon emissions it’s not only good for the environment, but it offers tremendous potential for the business too. Cutting carbon emissions can result in business benefits such as:
- Reduced energy bills
- Improved cash flow
- Increased profitability
- Increased competitiveness
- Improved green credentials
- Reduced exposure to future energy price rises
- Attracting and retaining the right quality of staff
- Increased productivity
- Ability to win new contracts, especially with the public sector
- A more comfortable working environment
- Improvements to air quality
- Contributing to a reduced carbon footprint for Somerset and wider benefits to society
How can my business get involved?
In order to help businesses to get involved in assessing their energy use and energy reduction we have produced this ‘toolkit’. The toolkit acts as a signpost to some of the detailed information that already exists on the internet. The websites we are recommending are either those of recognised government departments, or are the websites of organisations (such as the Carbon Trust) that are collaborations between the government and other agencies. The information provided by these organisations is free at the point of use – although the Carbon Trust does ask businesses to register with them before using their information. As an internet search will reveal, other websites and other information is available and much of it is extremely useful, but often it is provided by commercial organisations who may (or may not) charge for services at some point.
A recommended starting point is the SME Guide to Energy Efficiency. This booklet is produced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. This guide introduces the reader to the topic of energy efficiency in the workplace and takes the reader through a number of steps that can help reduce the use of energy. The guide ranges from basic and occasionally obvious ways of reducing energy consumption to more sophisticated measures that might take more planning and time to implement. As the guide states: ‘There are lots of simple, straightforward actions you can take that won’t cost you anything and will start saving you money straight away. You may be doing some of these things already, while others might be completely new ideas.’
The guide provides a number of interesting and perhaps startling facts, for example:
- ‘Heating costs increase by approx 8% for every 1 degree c. increase. So turning down your heating by 2 degrees would save £140 on a £1000 electricity bill’
There are also case studies that illustrate how quite measurable savings can be made with simple ideas:
- ‘a market research company, has installed timer switches to turn off its two watercoolers out-of-hours, saving £144 a year (paying back the investment in 35 days)’
The SME Guide to Energy Efficiency by the Department of Energy and Climate Change can be viewed here
Another useful guide is produced by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and they have prepared a Small Business User Guide.
This publication also takes a comprehensive look at the various areas where businesses might save energy by focussing on:
- Electricity and gas use
- Waste disposal and recycling
- Business travel
- Owned or controlled vehicles
- Employee business travel
- Staff commuting
The publication also suggests ways in which energy saving schemes can be measured. It is important that energy savings can be quantified in order to assess the effectiveness of the actions taken. The guide sets out ways in which impact can be measured and reported.
The Small Business User Guide published by The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) can be viewed here
This website also suggests further websites that provide additional information and guidance.
What is a carbon footprint?
The term ‘carbon footprint’ refers to the definition and measurement of the impact on the environment that the activities of a person or business have. In very general terms, the more energy that is used by a person or a business, then the bigger their carbon footprint will be.
More technically a carbon footprint is often defined as the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions created by a person, a business, an event or the manufacture of a product. A carbon footprint is generally measured as the carbon dioxide equivalent of the emissions generated.
A business does not necessarily need to know the size of its carbon footprint to start making energy saving measures. There are many obvious ways of reducing emissions and reducing energy bills that can be simply measured in other ways. However, by measuring a carbon footprint and understanding how it is calculated, we can better understand the way in which our activities contribute to carbon emissions and how we might reduce them.
For a business to make a fairly accurate calculation of their carbon footprint is a relatively straightforward process. Measuring a carbon footprint is often seen as an essential starting point in any energy saving process. Without knowing where we have started from, we cannot fully measure the effectiveness of the actions we have taken.
Measuring a carbon footprint.
The Carbon Trust was established in 2001 as a collaboration between government and business in the U.K. The Carbon Trust is a not-for-profit private company limited by guarantee. Its stated mission is to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low carbon economy.
The Carbon Trust has prepared several guides for businesses to use, including a carbon footprint calculator. Their guides all come with background detail and clear instructions on use. The Carbon Trust does ask that you register with them before you can access their information. This is a straightforward on-line process.
Note: the emissions calculator is interactive and straightforward to use.
We recommend that you follow the links to the following web pages.
For smaller businesses
For larger businesses
The Carbon Trust also offers wider reading and additional advice on energy saving. It has produced the Better Business Guide to Energy Saving. This also is a good starting point for businesses who are new to energy saving and the document is a comprehensive 21-page guide.
Additional advice and further useful links
The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Hub (HotSW LEP Growth Hub) is a valuable source of information.
Please see https://www.heartofswgrowthhub.co.uk/ and specifically
The LEP also recommends the following links to additional advice and more specialised schemes.
GOV.UK website – Guidance on waste and environmental impact for businesses
Environmental Taxes, reliefs and schemes for businesses – You may get reliefs or be exempt from some taxes, for example if: you use a lot of energy because of the nature of your business, you’re a small business that doesn’t use much energy or you buy energy-efficient technology for your business.
WRAP – Provides sources of funding, advice and tools to help businesses reap the benefits of reducing waste, developing sustainable products and using resources in an efficient way
ISO 14001 – The international standard that specifies requirements for an effective environmental management system (EMS). It provides a framework that a business can follow to set up an effective environmental management system.
Are there any grants available to help with costs?
As demonstrated in the above on-line publications, there are many energy saving measures that can be made that incur little or no cost at all. In fact, most of the measures have the potential to quickly recover any capital costs and produce long term revenue savings.
There are currently small grants available through Somerset County Council to help businesses initiate and implement energy saving schemes. These grants range from £500 to £1000 -so would be ideal for either introducing smaller energy savings schemes to the workplace or to supplement a larger scheme or a range of schemes.
The grants must be applied for and there is a fairly simple application form and process to be followed. The applications are then assessed by a small panel against a stipulated set of criteria. The decision of the panel is final. If an application is successful, the grants then must be match-funded by the applicant on a 50:50 basis. For example, the cost of a £1000 project would be met by a £500 grant from the council matched by £500 from the applicant. The maximum grant awarded will be £1000
You can find more information here