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 massive 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 in 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 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 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.
Other websites and information are 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 for Energy and Climate Change. It introduces the topic of energy efficiency in the workplace and takes you through a number of steps that can help reduce energy use. 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 facts, for example:
‘Heating costs increase by approximately 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 show how 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)’
View the SME Guide to Energy Efficiency from the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
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 takes a look at the various areas where businesses might save energy by focusing 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 measured to assess the effectiveness of the actions taken. The guide sets out ways in which impact can be measured and reported.
View the Small Business User Guide published by DEFRA. This guide 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, 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 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. 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.
It is a relatively straightforward process for a business to make a fairly accurate calculation of its carbon footprint. Measuring a carbon footprint is often seen as an essential starting point in any energy-saving process. Without knowing where we have started, 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 the government and businesses in the UK. 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 online process.
Please 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 that are new to energy saving. The document is a comprehensive 21-page guide.