BLB’s Head of Commercial Property, Caroline Entwistle, considers ways of reducing the carbon footprint of industrial premises.
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Reducing the carbon footprint of industrial premises
These days, it’s difficult to escape the term ‘carbon footprint’ – and rightly so. And, for businesses with industrial premises in particular, mapping your journey to net zero has never been more crucial. Irrespective of ‘doing the right thing’, integrating sustainability into your business plan:
- helps avoid inevitable future penalties; and
- increases your competitive advantage by making your business more attractive to its customer base.
But before considering your carbon reduction plan, it’s worth reading and understanding the Government’s own strategy, Build Back Greener. This comprehensive document includes their policies and proposals for decarbonising all sectors of the economy to meet their net zero target by 2050.
What is your carbon footprint?
Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide and methane. And your business’s carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas emissions produced by the manufacturing process. But a complete picture also includes indirect activities, such as your employees’ commute to work.
Carbon footprint calculator
Carbon footprint calculators are readily available, such as this one from the Carbon Footprint Trust. However, to use them effectively, you will require detailed and accurate annual data, including:
- fuel consumption for the premises and company vehicles;
- energy consumption;
- top-ups for refrigeration and air-conditioning units if you use equipment running on Fluorinated gases (F-gas).
Ways to reduce your carbon footprint
Although there are some simple and inexpensive ways to reduce your carbon footprint, capital investment is inescapable for most businesses. That’s why budgeting for the transition over several years is crucial.
Investing in new technology can increase staff efficiency and help reduce waste. However, it’s vital to check the energy efficiency of any new machinery and know how it compares to its competitors. Are independent ratings and reviews available? Also, are there new, more efficient models in development? If so, is it worth waiting?
In addition, bear in mind that, generally, keeping machinery well-maintained:
- keeps down long-term costs; and
- ensures optimum running and energy efficiency.
In addition to shaking up your own processes, end-to-end sustainability is of growing importance in the supply chain for all sectors. For example, in 2022, Barclays published a study on the retail industry, revealing that almost 70% of retailers recognise the importance of working with ethical and sustainable suppliers. And that rises to an incredible 91% in the DIY sector. Moreover, increasing transparency in supply chains means businesses with sustainable end-to-end credentials will find themselves in greater demand.
It’s second nature at home, but recycling can also make a massive difference in the workplace. It can be as simple as installing recycling bins in the staff canteen or rest area, but are there more significant savings to achieve? Can you recycle waste raw materials elsewhere in the production process?
Choosing a renewable energy provider and green office equipment supplier reduces your carbon footprint. And for tech, always select equipment with an energy-saving mode or a top energy rating. Also, continuing the recycling theme, why not consider second hand office furniture?
In addition, incentivise staff to use public transport or cycle to work. For example, check out the Cycle to Work Scheme.
Reduce water consumption
Some manufacturing processes use substantial amounts of water. Adapting methods to reuse water reduces your carbon footprint and helps conserve this valuable resource.
Hold meetings online
For many businesses, navigating the pandemic would have been far tougher without online meeting platforms. And to a certain extent, they remain the default medium for catching up. But if there’s no real reason to meet face-to-face, why not keep it virtual, save travel, and reduce your carbon footprint?
For almost every business, achieving net zero is impossible overnight. Indeed, the required capital investment means the process will likely be measured in years, not months. So, in the meantime, you might consider one of many carbon offset schemes to improve your carbon credentials.
Carbon offsetting means investing in evolving technologies and other methods of reducing or removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The ‘carbon credits’ achieved ‘offset’ your own business’s emissions. It’s worth checking out the Government’s review of carbon offsetting, published in 2021.