Business climate change toolkit
Who is it for?
This toolkit is for local businesses of all sizes to help them understand how they can take action to become more sustainable and cut their carbon emissions.
What is it?
The guide includes information on different actions that can be taken by businesses to become more sustainable, outlines the benefits of taking action and provides links through to more detailed information and tools.
Why take action?
As well as the environmental benefits. taking action to tackle climate change offers benefits to businesses such as cost-savings, increasing their appeal to environmentally conscious customers/employees and growth potential.
Locally, the council’s climate emergency declaration set an ambitious target for a net zero carbon borough by 2030. Businesses have an important role to play in becoming more sustainable to cut local emissions.
Understanding a business’s carbon footprint
The carbon footprint of a business is made up of all the emissions emitted as a result of its activities. The world’s leading greenhouse gas accounting standard The Greenhouse Gas Protocol categories emissions into one of three scopes depending on where they come from.
- Scope one: direct emissions
Emissions released as a direct result of the activities carried out by a business. For example, the emissions released due to heating an office or by the fuel used in a business’s vehicles.
- Scope two: indirect emissions from purchasing energy
Emissions created when producing the energy a company uses. For most businesses, this means the emissions created when the electricity it uses is produced. A business’s scope two emissions can be zero if it purchases 100% renewable electricity.
- Scope three: indirect emissions
All the emissions a business is indirectly responsible for up and down its supply chain. For example, emissions associated with the products it buys from its suppliers and the emissions emitted when customers use its products.
Scope three covers emissions from a wide range of sources including travel, distribution, waste, staff commuting, purchased goods and services, water consumption, and IT. Businesses supplying larger organisations may already be supplying this information to their customers so they can use it to calculate their carbon footprints.
While businesses can become more sustainable without measuring their carbon footprint, knowing what it is can help businesses to better understand where and how they could cut their emissions and to make a plan for doing so.
Free carbon footprint measuring tools for businesses
- CarbonFootprint.com - Small Business Calculator
- Carbon Trust - Emissions Calculator
- Business Carbon Calculator by Normative
Areas to take action
Going green will look different for each business, depending on the sector it operates in and how sustainable it is already. The below information may be useful to help businesses consider how they could cut their emissions in different areas and ways.
Engage your landlord
Many businesses will rent their premises, meaning significant changes to buildings may be the responsibility of their landlord or require their permission. Engaging with them as early as possible around any changes is important.
Buildings rented by businesses must meet a minimum energy efficiency standard measured using an energy performance certificate (EPC). As of 1 April 2018, this is an E but Government is currently proposing to increase this requirement to a C by 1 April 2027. It is worth speaking to your landlord about this to see what measures can be put in place.
Improve insulation and minimise energy costs
Buildings lose heat through roofs, walls, doors, floors, windows and openings including keyholes. Better insulated buildings take less energy to heat.
Energy performance certificates (EPC) rate buildings’ energy efficiencies from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and provide ideas on how their energy efficiency can be improved, for example by installing installation or low-energy lighting. Check the EPC for your building on the Government’s website.
The Government’s SME energy efficiency guide includes further advice.
Use less heating
Are you heating the building unnecessarily, for example on weekends, evenings or warmer days? Or could you turn the thermostat down, even if only in certain areas such as corridors and particular rooms? An energy consultant can help you.
Block up any draughts coming from areas such as windows and under doors. Simple draft excluders are cheap and effective.
Replace (inefficient) fossil fuel heating systems
Burning fossil fuels for heating releases a lot of carbon dioxide. Replacing an old gas boiler or heating system with a more efficient one will help, though in the long term businesses are likely to need to swap to using a low-carbon heat sources, such as a heat pump.
They come in two main varieties:
- Air-source heat pump (ASHP) – where the heat source is the external air
- Ground-source heat pump (GSHP) – where heat is extracted from the ground using a horizontal array of pipes, or vertical boreholes.
Businesses can search for a local accredited installer of heat pumps: Find a Contractor - MCS (mcscertified.com). Heat pumps may not be suitable for larger commercial sites and businesses may need a bespoke solution.
Businesses may be able to access a grant of up to £6,000 to help cover the costs through the Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme. While not usually required, planning permission may be needed for a heat pump and in particular for an air source heat pump with an external unit.
Switching lights to LEDs saves substantial energy on lighting costs and usually quickly pays for itself, as well as saving considerable carbon. LEDs can now be sourced for all sorts of light fittings. However more bespoke settings may need specialist intervention, such as floodlights
Appliances and IT
Ensure any new appliances and IT equipment purchased are energy efficient models. Appliances will have an energy label, ranked A to G, with A being the most efficient. Some appliances may use an older scale where A+++ is the most efficient.
Unless you have to replace them, try to repair old appliances first as new products use energy to manufacture. This prevents waste and emissions. New ‘Right to Repair’ rules should make this easier and more affordable to do than it has been for some time.
Turning off electrical goods and lights when not in use is an easy way to save money and energy. You could use visible prompts on doors and by light switches to remind staff to turn lights and computers off when leaving rooms or buildings.
Generating your own energy onsite can be a great way to reduce your energy use and costs, with solar photovoltaic panels often the most straightforward option.
Local accredited installers can be found on the MCS website.
Travel less for work
Travelling less is the easiest way to cut emissions in this area. Holding meetings virtually whenever possible to reduce emissions from business travel. You could also promote or organise lift-sharing among staff for journeys to, from and for work.
Encourage walking and cycling
Along with cutting emissions, walking and cycling more can offer health and wellbeing benefits too. If possible, offer secure parking for bicycles to ensure people are not put off cycling by security concerns, and other facilities such as showers and lockers for staff to enable them to commute this way if they want. Information on routes and other information can be found on council cycling webpages.
Using public transport that is running anyway is a great way to cut emissions. As a local organisation, you can promote local bus routes or train travel and encourage staff to use this where possible. You could even offer incentives.
Switching your fleet, if you have one, is a significant step. Fossil fuel-powered cars, vans, lorries and other vehicles emit a large amount of greenhouse gases and reduce local air quality. Electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions, significantly reducing their carbon footprint. The Energy Saving Trust website has a wealth of guidance on electric vehicles for fleet operators.
Find more information about providing electric vehicle charging points at your premises and incentivise employees to switch to an electric vehicle at GOV.UK.
Companies that purchase electric vehicles currently qualify for 100% capital allowances in the first year, meaning tax relief is given for the full price of the car in that year. The same is true for the cost of purchasing charging points, which may be near the workplace or at an employee’s home.
- Supply chain
Every product or service has a carbon footprint due to factors such as how it is made and where it is transported from. Having a green supply chain is an ambitious goal as it involves carefully considering the services and products a business buys to reduce the overall emissions it is responsible for.
Reducing how many products a business buys helps, as does carefully choosing more sustainable products or purchasing from local suppliers or those with green credentials.
Buying green may involve asking questions about the companies your suppliers purchase from to be sure the overall supply chain is as green as possible. If you can't find suppliers with the standards you’re looking for, you could work together with existing suppliers to find solutions to help them become more sustainable.
- Reducing waste
Reduce, reuse, repair, recycle
Promoting the waste hierarchy – reduce, reuse, repair, recycle – among staff can help reduce a business’s overall carbon footprint, with clear guidance, messages and incentives helping to motivate staff.
Businesses can cut their waste through actions including using digital signatures, cutting printing and postage with electronic forms, looking for reusable alternatives, repairing or refurbishing equipment where possible, and using fewer single-use plastics.
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is a UK charity that provides sources of funding, advice and tools to help businesses reap the benefits of reducing waste, developing sustainable products and using resources in an efficient way.
Guidance and requirements
Find out about Government guidance on waste and environmental impact for businesses
- Getting staff on board
Research shows that working for a sustainable business is very important to many employees, particularly the younger generations. Involving them can provide benefits including attracting and retaining staff.
Corporate volunteering can be a great way of getting staff involved, as well as doing something good for the environment. Businesses can get in touch with our Rangers team to book work parties by emailing WildlifeConservation@basingstoke.gov.uk.
- Diet and food
The food that a business provides and that is eaten by its staff can be a large part of its carbon footprint. Generally meat, especially red meat such as beef and lamb, and dairy products are responsible for the largest amount of emissions.
If your business caters for events or has a canteen, consider foods with low carbon emissions and purchasing from local suppliers to reduce emissions from transporting food and boost the local economy.
- Look after green spaces
Businesses that own or maintain land may be able to increase the amount of carbon they absorb by enhancing the natural environment through restoring habitats and planting shrubs and trees. This can offer other benefits too, including helping to increase the diversity of local plants and wildlife.
It is important that the right plants are grown in the right place as, otherwise, this can decrease the variety of plants and wildlife as well as release carbon currently trapped in the ground. Organisations such as The Woodland Trust have advice on planting and maintenance and can provide free plants.