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Reducing Your Carbon Footprint: A Guide For Small Businesses
by Jack Oldham Wed, 08/01/2012 - 10:17
We live in an age which is increasingly concerned with global climate change, and the term ‘carbon footprint’ is familiar to many of us. In its most basic terms, a carbon footprint is calculated based on the greenhouse gas emissions produced by an individual or organisation.
The emissions generated by even the smallest of businesses can be significant, and many small corporations are rightly striving to reduce the impact they have on the environment.
Although small businesses that are just starting out may not have the disposable capital, carbon offsetting is a process that is worth consideration when in a viable position.
Under this regulated system, businesses are able to purchase ‘carbon credits’ equivalent to emissions which they have generated, and the proceeds of these sales is used to fund projects which strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (such as hydro-electric power stations).
The business in question is therefore not actively reducing its emissions, and is instead offsetting them against reductions made elsewhere. For this reason organisations are urged not to consider this method as a first choice, and carbon offsetting should be employed where emissions cannot be avoided or reduced by other measures.
Increasing Energy Efficiency
The large majority of small businesses won’t be having as big an effect on the environment as worldwide corporations; however this isn’t to say that they still can’t improve their energy efficiency.
In essence, every organisation should seek to increase its energy efficiency in order to reduce its carbon footprint. This can often mean making simple changes, such as installing energy saving light bulbs throughout the business premises, or ensuring electrical equipment is turned off when not in use. A company may, for example, install timer systems in their premises to switch lights and/or electrical equipment off outside of working hours.
These are just a few of the simplest and cheapest ways that energy can be saved, and I think it’s safe to say that every small business on the planet could afford to make allowances for different light bulbs! Additionally if it’s within budget, simply using more up to date technology can also help to reduce a business’ carbon footprint, as newer electronic equipment is designed to run more energy efficiently.
Transport can often make a significant contribution to a company’s carbon footprint. This may range from the day to day travel of employees as part of their work, to receiving deliveries of materials or supplies to business premises, to haulage companies engaging in the transportation of goods on an international scale.
Transport in some capacity is a relevant factor to a large percentage of organisations, and it therefore follows that vehicles saving on fuel consumption can be a pivotal factor in reducing a company’s carbon footprint. Clearly, if an organisation can make cuts to the transport it uses, for example by travelling less frequently or using fewer vehicles, then there will be corresponding cuts to the emissions they generate. The chances are that a small business won’t be using a plethora of large haulage vehicles and are able to condense their workload into smaller vans and other vehicles.
However, transport and travel are of course frequently essential to businesses, and therefore a straightforward reduction of transport is often simply not a practical solution. Many small businesses’ day to day work may revolve around a man spending all day in a van carrying out deliveries, or driving from one retail park to the next trying to drum up new business.
Businesses must therefore seek ways to increase the efficiency of their transport. For example, significant reductions in fuel use can be achieved by the utilisation of vehicle tracking systems. Such systems ensure that drivers take more direct routes and achieve a greater number of miles per gallon, thereby reducing emissions, and in turn, the company’s carbon footprint.
About the author
Jack Oldham is a journalism graduate blogging on behalf of Teletrac Inc, who specialise in fleet vehicle tracking systems that can help increase efficiency and reduce carbon footprints for small businesses.