Do-It-Yourself Going Green Ideas
Reducing carbon emissions is a responsibility that can no longer be relegated to individual action. Businesses worldwide are increasingly taking part in schemes that aim to alleviate environmental problems. What measures are being taken by British businesses as part of this global effort?
1- Reducing paper waste
The average amount of paper used by a business over a year has a carbon footprint equivalent to the emissions released by a car travelling over 3,000 miles. There are numerous sustainable corporate practices that can reduce paper waste. Double-sided printing, using recycled paper, printing only essential e-mails, digitalising documents and signatures, and sending electronic invoices are some of the most common measures.
2- Recycling electronic equipment
Electronic waste is one of the most toxic elements that routinely ends up in landfills. Telephones, computer parts, TV screens, keyboards and photocopiers are just some of the items that can be recycled, thus reducing their negative impact on the environment.
3- Being energy-smart
This measure goes beyond using energy-efficient light bulbs or turning off equipment that is not in use. Movement-sensitive lights and taps can be fitted in bathrooms and other rooms that are not frequently used, specialist energy-saving software can be installed in computers, desktops can be replaced by laptops, and heating thermostats can be lowered by a couple of degrees. Other measures include installing automatic doors, using fuel-efficient company vehicles, and ensuring that any malfunctioning is promptly reported and repaired.
4- Rethinking business travel
Many UK business have examined their travel practices and have come to the conclusion that they are not sustainable. While running a business inevitably involves making journeys, their frequency can be modified in order to minimise carbon emissions and environmental damage. Some good practices include videoconferencing instead of attending meetings out of the office, instituting a weekly “work from home” day, working with delivery companies that follow green practices, and encouraging employees to commute by bicycle whenever possible.
Governmental policies and incentives
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DEEC) has implemented a series of policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions in the workplace. It is now mandatory that British businesses comply with European directives such as the EU Emissions Trading System. National policies include the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme and several industry-specific Climate Change Agreements. The latter offer considerable levy discounts to firms that meet the required targets and significantly reduce their carbon emissions.
There are also financial incentives designed to promote a green corporate culture across the country (and not just reduction on energy usage saving costs on business electricity prices ). Tax credits are available to businesses that restore contaminated or derelict land. Tax relief covers 150% of the costs incurred. Tax break schemes are also available to businesses under the name of ECAs (enhanced capital allowances). ECAs are offered to companies that invest in energy-saving equipment, and they can be claimed for equipment as diverse as light bulbs, boilers, air conditioning systems, and heat pumps. The scheme currently offers a 100% allowance during the first year. Full first year ECA allowances are also available to firms that invest in water-efficient technologies.