The Net Zero Journey - What Businesses Can Do

Most businesses can make significant reductions in energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint through promoting a more sustainable culture throughout the workforce, regular monitoring, and identifying simple steps to improvement. It is estimated that most businesses can save 20% of their energy costs simply through adopting an energy saving routine at no extra cost to the business.

Net zero is achieved when greenhouse gas emissions a business produces are balanced by what can be removed from the atmosphere‚Äč. The focus must be on reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible‚Äč. Any unavoidable emissions can be offset through reputable offset schemes such as those with the Gold Standard and the Woodland Carbon Code.

As well as cost reduction, other tangible business benefits of embedding net zero into your business include:

  • Increased customer value/loyalty
  • Increased business/investor value
  • Increased supply chain resilience
  • Attracting (and retaining) employees
  • Meeting environmental regulation.

If you are a SME, the SME Climate Hub is one place to start. It provides free resources and access to a business carbon calculator. You’ll be asked basic information about your size, sector, market, energy costs and spend on items such as travel. Once you have a benchmark, it is easier to set realistic and measurable targets for reduction. The UK Business Climate Hub is the UK partner of the SME Climate Hub and is a collaboration between the UK Government, businesses and business groups. It provides free resources that will help you to make a start including quick wins on lighting, heating and air conditioning, transport and travel and resource/waste management.

The Hub outlines 7 Steps to Sustainability, starting with the basics and progressing to topics such as international standards and product certification. The Hub recognises that your business’s greatest asset is your employees. Getting your team on board with any changes you make early on is really important.

Many companies will be able to make improvements in a number of areas. You could choose to use an ISO standard such as ISO 14001 or ISO 50005 to help you structure your approach. Alternatively, you could make your own action plan that will guide your net zero journey and keep your business accountable. Below are some areas that your business could consider as part of your action plan.

Lighting

  • Use low energy light bulbs.
  • Turn off lights in empty rooms, corridors and toilets when not in use.
  • Keep windows and skylights clean and clear from obstructions so that you can maximise the daylight.
  • Clean light fittings annually to maximise light output.
  • Consider use of motion sensors in areas that are not used continuously.

 

Heating & Air Conditioning

  • Improve insulation
  • Upgrade to more energy efficient heating and cooling systems. You may need planning permission or consent if you are making changes to your premises[1] – seek advice.
  • Maintain your heating system regularly.
  • Switch to a renewable energy supplier.
  • Set thermostats at the recommended temperatures of 19°C for offices, 16°C for workshops and 10-12°C for stores and warehouses.
  • Use thermostatic radiator valves on radiators.
  • Ensure the thermostat and radiators are not blocked by furniture.
  • Don’t heat empty rooms.
  • Keep doors closed between areas of different temperatures or fit automatic closers.
  • Keep windows closed when the heating or air-conditioning is on
  • Make sure external doors and windows are draught-proofed.

 

Equipment

  • When replacing equipment, look for more energy efficient products.
  • Switch off all equipment at night, and when not used.
  • If you have energy intensive equipment, consider monitoring usage to understand how you can optimise.
  • Turn PC monitors off when not being used.
  • Only photocopy or print necessary documents and print double-sided.
  • Ensure energy saving features on equipment are activated.
  • Don’t place printers, PCs, or photocopiers underneath temperature sensors.

 

Transport and travel

  • If the business provides vehicles, consider changing to electric options as vehicles are replaced or leases expire.
  • Use online meetings where they can meet objectives.
  • Encourage the use of public transport, car sharing, cycling and walking for work trips and commuting.

 

Resource and Waste Management

  • Try to reduce your production of waste – eg through better stock control, printing less etc.
  • Explore options for giving away surplus or unwanted stock (eg to charities) where it is safe and legal to do so.
  • Stock-take before reordering.
  • Encourage reuse of resources where practical.
  • Provide recycling points at your premises and educate your staff in the correct disposal of waste.

Pension Investments

  • Discuss sustainable pension options with your business’s pension supplier.

 

Use of Outside Space

  • If you have outside space, encourage nature eg through wildflowers, trees, bird boxes, insect-friendly log piles and ponds.

 

Need Further Help or Advice?

The Environment Agency provides details of legislation affecting this area.

Further Advice can be found from:

The SME Climate Hub SME Climate Hub 

UK Business Climate Hub https://businessclimatehub.uk/

Carbon Trust www.carbontrust.com.

 

There is additional advice and information on the Council’s website including details of current grant schemes:

Planning & Building Guidance | Test Valley Borough Council 

Grants & Funding | Test Valley Borough Council 

Decarbonisation and Net Zero | Test Valley Borough Council

Renewable and Low Carbon Energy | Test Valley Borough Council 

 


[1] Planning Permission may be required for changes to your premises. If the alterations would be to a listed building, you may also need Listed Building Consent for any works. If Planning Permission or Listed Building Consent is needed, you could also seek pre-application advice for the works.