You may have heard the term ‘carbon footprint’ used in discussions around sustainability. But have you ever thought about how it could impact you and your business?
With more businesses integrating sustainability into their strategies, it’s becoming increasingly important to be aware of the effects your company could be having on the environment. Bringing your business’ carbon footprint down could help your company to become more sustainable and help you avoid penalties.
Let’s find out how…
- Your carbon footprint represents how much greenhouse gases your workplace emits, or produces.
- Work out your business’ carbon footprint by using an online calculator. You’ll need to know your fuel and energy consumption before you can start reducing it.
- Encourage staff to reduce their carbon footprint by helping them to see the benefits of their actions or educating them on the impact they can have.
What is your workplace carbon footprint?
Your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions your business produces. It includes gases like carbon dioxide and methane which may be produced due to manufacturing processes but may also take into consideration things like your team’s commute to work.
How to find out your business’ carbon footprint
You can use an online calculator – like this one from the Carbon Trust – to work out your business’ carbon footprint.
You’ll need to know your annual:
- Fuel consumption (used on-site, and in company-owned vehicles)
- Energy consumption (used at any of your company sites)
- Top-ups to any air-con or refrigeration units (if you use equipment that runs on F gas)
Make sure you have the correct numbers for the year you want to report on – you can collect this from meter readings, bills, and service sheets.
10 effective ways to reduce your business’ carbon footprint
There are plenty of ways to bring down your business’ carbon footprint, from small changes like recycling in the staff kitchen to bigger shifts like investing in new technology.
Here are our top 10 tips for reducing your carbon footprint in the workplace:
#1. Invest in high-quality machinery
Although it may be costly to initially take the plunge and invest in new tech, this could benefit you when it comes to increasing staff efficiency and ensuring your machinery doesn’t end up in waste. Be sure to check the energy requirements of each machine you purchase to make sure you’re bringing the most energy-efficient tech into your workplace.
#2. Keep all machinery maintained
It can be tempting to leave machinery run as long as possible before you call out a mechanic but keeping it maintained will keep costs down in the long term. Regular maintenance will also mean that your machines are running at optimum capacity and are using energy more efficiently.
#3. Reduce water use
If you work in manufacturing, you could use a lot of water in your production process. Reusing water could reduce your carbon footprint and conserve the world’s natural resources for future generations.
We all do it at home, but recycling can make a significant difference in the workplace too. Putting recycling bins in the staff kitchen could encourage your team to separate their waste, but you could be recycling on a bigger scale too. Could the materials you throw away actually be reused somewhere along the production line?
#5. Use sustainable suppliers
The supply chain is a huge focus in many sectors as end-to-end sustainability becomes increasingly important. A 2022 study by Barclays found that in the retail sector, nearly 70% of retailers recognise that it’s equally important to work with ethical and sustainable suppliers, rising to 91% of retailers in the DIY sector. As supply chains become more transparent, it’s clear that those with sustainable credentials will be favoured over those that don’t.
#6. Stick to online meetings
We didn’t do many online meetings before the pandemic, but they’ve become the default way to schedule in a catch-up. If there’s no real reason for someone to drive to the office, why not stick to virtual meetings to bring your carbon footprint down?
#7. Taking the train, bike or bus
Encouraging your team to use public transport where possible is a great way to keep emissions down. They may also save on petrol, or parking charges, particularly if your workplace is based in the city.
#8. Choosing green energy and office equipment
Choosing a green energy provider and greener office equipment can also contribute to bringing your carbon footprint down. Opt for equipment that has an energy-saving mode or a great energy rating to get the most out of your new tech.
#9. Buy second-hand furniture
It might be tempting to buy everything brand new but buying second-hand can help reduce your consumption of goods that haven’t been produced sustainably. It could also work out cheaper for you to buy refurbished furniture.
#10. Carbon offsetting
There are schemes you can pay into to help with carbon offsetting. Your money will go towards developing new technologies to reduce carbon emissions, or the company may plant trees on your behalf. It’s best to do your research to find out whether this is the right solution for your business.
How can staff be encouraged to reduce the business’ carbon footprint?
There’s no point implementing new schemes in the workplace if your staff don’t adhere to them.
- You can encourage your team to actively reduce their carbon footprint by helping them to see the benefits of their actions or educating them on the impact they can have.
- Make it easy for staff to participate in bringing down the business’ carbon footprint by implementing programmes like Cycle to Work where employees can get a bike at a reduced price through salary sacrifice.
- Having recycling bins throughout the workplace can also encourage staff to recycle rather than throw their rubbish into the bin.
- There are opportunities throughout the year to get staff involved in national awareness campaigns like ‘Earth Day’ too. Occasions like this can help your team to recognise the real-world impact their everyday actions can have.
What courses are available to help businesses get started?
There are lots of environmental qualifications on the market, but the most widely recognised and respected courses are accredited by IEMA. IEMA is a professional body for everyone working in environment and sustainability, its courses are designed to enable skills and knowledge that drive sustainable professions.
Take a look at the list of the IEMA courses & training programmes we offer to help you get your team up to speed.
- IEMA Environmental Sustainability Skills For The Workforce – a one-day entry level course designed as a starting point for every worker in your business.
- IEMA Environmental Sustainability Skills For Managers – this two-day course is a strategic and operational environmental course for managers and supervisors to discover the implications of environmental sustainability.
- IEMA Foundation Certificate in Environmental Management – five-day course that is more in-depth, designed to improve your business’ resilience, productivity and mobility and most importantly, inject green skills into your workforce.
- IEMA Certificate in Environmental Management – 15 day course that is the perfect professional development qualification for those working in organisations at an operational level and pursuing a career path in environment and sustainability.
- IEMA Pathways to Net Zero – is a 2-day course, perfect for those who are taking their first step into the world of sustainability.