How Going Green Makes Business Sense

How Going Green Makes good small Business SenseFor the majority of businesses, being ‘green’ is far from a priority. In fact, many believe that being environmentally friendly is too much of an investment of time and money for too little business benefit. The reality however is, thousands of UK businesses are reaping the rewards of investing a small amount of time in becoming a more efficient, greener operation.

How being green saves money

A business looking to take action on being green for the first time results in much improved resource efficiency. Research from Envirowise, the Government support service for the environment, shows that a business can save up to £1,000 per year, per employee from taking such steps.

Surprisingly, such significant savings do not require massive effort. For example, simply swapping inefficient bulbs for more efficient versions can cut electricity consumption by 50%.

Using fewer resources in the first place results in further savings too. By reducing paper consumption by printing double sided, you won’t need as much paper and won’t produce as much waste. With the average office worker using up to 100 sheets of paper per day, it’s easy to see how savings can mount up.

Checking pipes, taps and meters for any leaks in your water system can also result in a significant cost saving.  Likewise, money can be saved by keeping an eye on the temperature. According to the Carbon Trust, heating costs will go up by 8% each time you increase the temperature by just one degree.

A needless waste of energy is leaving office equipment overnight. A survey by E.ON revealed that a third of employees at small businesses are guilty of leaving their PCs on overnight. Across the UK, it is thought the waste accounts to £3.8m a day!

This isn’t the end of easy to implement changes that result in less consumption and cost. There are hundreds of ideas that require just a small amount green-thinking in order to become a more environmentally friendly, responsible and profitable business.

Getting started on the green track

Having a change in culture does require buy-in from all employees in order to make it work. A way of achieving this is by getting their input on ideas and creating a work-group whose role it is to implement actions and keep everyone else updated.

Your green ideas and targets can be placed into an Environmental Policy, which everyone has access too. The policy can identify members of the team responsible for certain green activities, and can be updated as new ideas are implemented. Review dates should also be mentioned.

Having a documented Environmental Policy has other benefits too. With the environment being an ever talked about topic, a suitable Environmental Policy is often stipulated when tendering for a contract. This is so the buyer can be confident that you are taking your organisation’s environmental impact seriously. For central and local authority work especially, an Environmental Policy is normally mandatory.

Having an Environmental Policy doesn’t only help with new business, current clients should also be pleased to hear you are considering your impact on the environment. You never know, it could be the difference between keeping a client and losing one!

Taking things further – demonstrating your environmental credentials

Demonstrating environmental credentials to your stakeholders ultimately requires third-party verification of your claims. A way of formalising your business’s approach to environmental performance is by establishing an Environmental Management System, or ‘EMS’ for short.

There is an internationally recognised environmental standard called ISO 14001 which the majority of businesses use as a base of an EMS. As a demonstration of its significance, in 2009 there were over 10,000 UK organisations certified to the standard. The major advantage of ISO 14001 is that it is applicable to organisations of any size or sector.

Once a business is confident they meet the requirements of the standards, they can become certified by a third-party Certification Body. Being ISO 14001 certified provides additional security to buyers, and is consequently proven to help businesses win tenders. It’s also a way keeping employees motivated, as certification rewards their hard work in helping the business to become green.

This article was written by The British Assessment Bureau, an ISO 14001 certification body

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