By Chris Smith, sales and marketing director, on365

With an estimated 4.5 million small businesses forming the backbone of the UK economy, the SMB community has the opportunity to take the lead in mitigating the impact of commercial activity on the environment and not leave green efforts solely to larger corporations. The Carbon Trust reports that SMBs are responsible for around 20% of all carbon emissions in the UK, but with a practical approach, combined with staff involvement in this issue, SMBs can help to bring down the UK’s carbon footprint.

With the topical issue of the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Schemes (CRC EES) and the urge for businesses to be greener – SMBs can take some comparatively simple action to reduce their day-to-day energy consumption.

Through our work planning, installing, management and optimisation of data centre infrastructure and utility services we have identified top five tips in helping small companies become more energy efficient:

1)Switch computers off after hours – A basic tip that is often forgotten but is the cardinal rule. A single computer and monitor left on 24 hours a day will alone cost a business over £50 a year. Switching it off after hours will save a small business not only money but valuable energy as well

2)Promote recycling in the business – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: establish a recycling programme in the office by arranging large recycling bins around the office. Place them next to copiers and printers, near rubbish bins and in your staff break room. Reusing packaging such as bubble wrap and brown paper can also keep costs and carbon emissions down for a business. Some offices now appoint a ‘Green Champion’ – a person who makes sure that all the recycling is carried out correctly and efficiently

3)Use natural heating and ventilation if possible– Turning down the office heating by just 1 degree can reduce the annual energy bill. Offices that use natural ventilation such as open windows have seen costs kept down and carbon emissions reduced. In addition, it’s often forgotten that companies unnecessarily heat or cool computer rooms that people are not using

4)Getting staff involved - Make energy saving a team effort through incentives such as a fun day out of the office funded by the money saved. Other examples could include encouraging car sharing to help cut down carbon emissions

5)Use of smart metering – Smart Meters are starting to be used by different businesses to monitor energy use very simply as they provide real-time display of energy being used in an organisation. Smart meters work through showing how much energy businesses have used and what it has cost them, along with a message indicating whether this is higher or lower than normal. Some retail chains have taken the lead here, giving meters to store managers and offering them financial incentives for achieving reduced energy use by equipment at each local branch.

Following green strategies is becoming more of a corporate responsibility amongst businesses in the UK. As the lifeblood of the economy, practical steps by small and medium-sized enterprises to reduce their energy usage could play a major part in ensuring we meet the UK’s target to reduce carbon emissions by 34% by 2020, according to the Carbon Trust. By following these suggested tips coupled with the use of smart meters, UK SMBs will help play a vital part in reducing Britain’s overall carbon footprint.

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