By Ashleigh Harman, Project Lower

There has recently been a heavy focus on what start-ups and SMEs can learn from big companies within the business community. While this has inspired young businesses to think big, many forget that the learning process can work both ways and that there is plenty small companies can teach industry giants, particularly with regards to sustainability.

Many smaller businesses work hard to reduce their carbon output and energy bills. Therefore, they are often quicker to adopt new technologies and initiatives to help them achieve their targets. So, by examining how start ups and smaller businesses operate, big businesses can start to discover new ways in which to reduce their own energy output.

Energy saving incentives
Small companies often work to tighter budgets, meaning they are more aware of the smaller details of their incomings and outgoings. For them, saving energy does not only work towards a more sustainable business, but allows them enough money to complete the work they do on a daily basis.
This necessity has bred a new culture in which all employees play a vital role in workplace energy saving schemes, as simple rules like switching off computers at night, unplugging idle chargers and using blinds to help heat and cool work environments can help to save money.

These schemes often work well as every person is responsible for adhering to them. Some companies even offer incentives for when energy targets are hit, helping to ensure energy saving becomes the entire office’s prerogative.

Paper-free offices and the benefits of cloud technology
Paper-free offices are slowly becoming the norm across start-ups and SMEs. Advancements in device and cloud technologies are creating a new office environment where printers, fax machines and notebooks are seldom being used.

Not only is this saving energy and stationary bills, it is also breeding innovation by allowing more work to happen outside of the office. This trend of remote and flexible working gives smaller companies the opportunity to get the best out of their employees by breaking away from the 9-5 mindset, allowing staff members to work to their own timescale and in their preferred environment.

Utilising the data provided by smart meters
Smart meters are helping organisations to pinpoint where their energy use is most prolific. Many big energy companies are offering free installation to businesses, an opportunity which many smaller companies have taken advantage of.

The data provided by these devices is allowing small companies to implement energy saving strategies within their workplaces. The information gives businesses the opportunity to prioritise their energy saving efforts and see the results of their initiatives, helping them to distinguish which energy saving tactics actually work.

Educating staff on the cost of energy
Equipped with a better knowledge and a less carefree attitude to energy saving, small businesses are training their staff to have a more responsible outlook on their own energy use.

Shifts in energy saving responsibility are causing a fundamental change in the attitudes of these workforces. Not only is the education breeding a more responsible employee, but it is also influencing attitudes towards energy use in the home, which is resulting in more people taking a bigger step towards reducing their usage in all aspects of their life.

Small business’ strengths lie in analysing costs effectively, and taking the time and effort to streamline their expenses, whether that is real estate, equipment, recruitment or utility bills. By involving the whole staff base in any energy saving activity that is carried out, small companies are also able to promote an inclusive working environment whereby every single person is aware of their impact and also responsible for the sustainability of their workplace.