Sustainability is a hot topic with large businesses in particular experiencing increasing pressure to offset carbon emissions in the government’s race to Zero Carbon.
At Formation Works, we’re embracing sustainable practises at every opportunity and encouraging our members to do likewise. However, for small to medium sized business owners, especially start-up companies, it can seem daunting to embrace green credentials, especially if it will attract further financial outlay.
We’ve put together some practical tips as to how you might go about addressing more sustainably minded practices for your business. Even embracing some of these will have an impact on our world, so don’t think it’s not making even a small effort – it all adds up!
Read on for some inspiration…
1. Encourage ‘green’ commuting
Your journey to your workplace itself presents the opportunity to cut down on a huge contributory factor for carbon emissions – fuel consumption. Some surveys suggest that as much as 5% of the UK’s carbon emissions are caused by our daily commute, so it is incumbent on ethical business owners to encourage greener ways to travel. Why not research cycle to work schemes and/or incentivise your staff to lift-share. Is walking practical? You could turn this quest into a bit of healthy competition by seeing which employee can engage in the least fossil fuelled mileage in the month!
Where company cars are a feature of your business, try and embrace electric vehicles if possible. We’re blessed to have the folk at Weev as FW members, so we’re committed to rolling out charging stations across our locations, making electric vehicles a more practical option for our members.
2. Reduce energy consumption
This is an easy one we can all contribute to. Electricity is an important source of energy in most businesses, but at times we use it mindlessly and needlessly. Make sure to turn off appliances when not in use, including switching off computers at night.
Lighting can contribute more than you would think to office electricity consumption, so make sure you use motion sensors and/or dimmable solutions where possible. LEDs are a much more efficient option and don’t forget to enjoy natural light at every opportunity!
Heat in an office is often a contentious issue as personal opinions as to what constitutes nominal office temperatures can vary massively! Encourage staff to layer up first before putting on the heating and in warmer temperatures make sure air conditioning units are used sparingly. Use a thermostat to ensure heating and cooling is managed efficiently within agreed boundaries and make sure to turn off heaters and air conditioning units when staff aren’t in the office and especially overnight!
3. Choose energy efficient appliances
Take this green thinking into your purchasing decisions when looking for new office appliances. Don’t focus only on cost or aesthetics – ensure you’re choosing the most energy efficient option. This is made easy by comparing products’ energy star rating. A more expensive option at the outset could easily save you money in the longer term as lower emissions will result in energy savings too.
4. Avoid single use plastics
Plastics have received a bad name when one thinks of the environment, but they aren’t all bad. It’s the single use, high waste plastics we need to be mindful to avoid. Discourage the use of plastic bottles in your organisation. If you’re having a work function like a barbeque or summer party, choose bamboo cups, plates and cutlery instead of plastic, or choose washable, reusable materials to eliminate waste completely. Thinking environment first in this way can help create a more sustainability conscious culture in your workplace.
5. Save water
Saving water – it’s as easy to do as consuming it. Turn off taps more quickly. Don’t boil the kettle repeatedly and then throw out the water. Wash your hands well but don’t take all day to do it. Shower quickly and efficiently. All common sense really, but it’s amazing the difference it will make. If you’re worried about individuals in your organisation wasting water track your usage and find ways to combat it.
When it comes to drinking water, don’t fill fridges with bottled water if tap water is drinkable. If you’re worried it isn’t, why not install a filter on your tap – easy to do and much cheaper than buying bottled water on repeat.
6. Encourage carbon friendly eating
Saving water is vital but don’t forget about how your eating habits can also contribute to carbon consumption. If food waste is an issue within your business, discuss the impact with staff and find ways to overcome it. Engaging with a local food back could be a way to prevent food from being wasted – especially when it comes to dealing with wastage from events or larger client meetings. Formation Works Armagh is proudly home to Armagh Food Bank so engaging with organisations like theirs is a great way to ensure food can be rehomed effectively.
We can create impact not only by addressing the amount of food we consume or waste, but also the types of food. Meat – in particular beef – is responsible for much greater carbon emissions than fruits and vegetables for example. Becoming Vegan might not be a practical or preferred decision for many people but why not introduce Meat Free Mondays as a challenge for your organisation, or try a Vegan restaurant for your next team building night out. You never know, you might just love it!
7. Go paperless
Before printing anything – a presentation, an email, a document – stop and think, ‘do I really need to print this?’ More often than not, the answer will probably be ‘no.’ With so many online packages and apps available now to store and manage information and to communicate effectively between teams, it’s much less likely we need to print as often as we might think.
Adopting this paperless attitude as a business leader will make it much more likely your employees will follow suit. Lead by example and when excess printing seems to be a culture, discuss realistic alternatives with your employees to find a system that can work for everyone, as well as the environment.
8. Recycling of materials
Does your organisation take an active approach to recycling? Sometimes it can be an easy option to dump everything in one place, especially in a busy organisation. However, having separate recycling bins and clear instructions on where to dispose of each type of waste will promote a very healthy recycling culture in your organisation.
The easiest place to start is with paper waste. Formation Works properties actively encourage and support the disposal of paper, cardboard and all recyclable waste separately, meaning we can all do our bit for the environment. If you’re concerned about confidentiality, engage the services of an external company to dispose of your waste effectively, giving you extra peace of mind.
9. Measure your carbon emissions and track their changes
It’s difficult to make improvements on anything without first knowing your current status. How can we know we’ve gotten better if we don’t know where we currently stand? In sustainability terms, we refer to this as a ‘baseline’ figure.
There are various ways to go about calculating your organisation’s baseline figure, with varying degrees of detail and accuracy, from free online calculators to engaging in the services of a specialised consultancy service to help measure each element of your carbon footprint separately. Whatever way you choose to go about it, make sure you measure your current status so that you can celebrate each milestone in your journey of improvement.
10. Find Energy Efficient Workspaces
Each of these steps may seem futile if the building in which you operate lacks energy efficiency. When choosing a space in which to operate, assess the energy ratings carefully and choose a space that is reflective of your own sustainability goals.
Formation Works buildings operate with a sustainable mindset. When you choose Formation Works, you’ll choose renewable energy sources, energy efficient light and heat sources and buildings which strive for sustainability at every opportunity.
If this sounds like an attractive option for your business, why not contact us to discuss your needs and how we might help you on your sustainability journey.