26/07/2010

By Josh Hall, SimplyBusiness.co.uk

Global warming is a hot topic. Businesses around the world are waking up to the realities of climate change — and realising that they have a part to play in combating this phenomenon.

But, in addition to the environmental benefits, going green can be a serious boon for your business. Better energy efficiency means lower utility bills — and who can argue with smaller overheads?

There are some very simple steps you can take to increase energy efficiency in your business, regardless of its nature. So here are our top tips for going green.

1. Develop a policy

A simple lack of co-ordination is amongst the primary reasons for energy inefficiency in business. Unless someone takes charge, nothing will get done.

Your first, and perhaps most important step, should therefore be to nominate a co-ordinator for your energy policy. You should give them ‘ownership’ of this task, and ensure that they have the resources they need to complete it effectively.

If yours is a relatively small business, it may be that this task falls to you. Where possible, though, you may wish to nominate another individual in order to ensure that the process receives the attention it deserves — and you can concentrate on running your business.

2. Service your equipment

Poorly maintained equipment is a major energy drain. If you use plant or machinery in your business, you can significantly reduce your energy bills by ensuring that these items are properly serviced.

You should also consider energy efficiency when purchasing new equipment. Most electrical items now come with charts displaying their energy usage; you can use these figures to help you make better decisions.

3. Think about water

Reducing water wastage is a simple and effective way of reducing your environmental impact and cutting your bills at the same time.

It is estimated that a single dripping tap can waste as much as 5,000 litres a year — and yet this is a problem that can be solved very easily. Replace any worn washers or valve seats (the part onto which the washer fits) in order to help minimise drips. You may also consider fitting water softening equipment if your area has particularly hard water; this will help to lengthen the life of your pipes and taps.

4. Go paperless

Paper wastage is an endemic problem in many businesses. Think about ways that you can reduce the amount of paper you use. For example, do you really need to print an email or document in order to show it to a colleague? Probably not. Consider ways that you can encourage digital communication within your business, rather than continuing to rely on paper.

5. Turn off the lights

Lighting often accounts for as much as 30 per cent of an office’s energy use. By taking a proper look at your lighting arrangements you can reduce your carbon footprint and shave a significant amount off your overheads.

There are a few ‘easy wins’ that you can achieve when it comes to lighting. First of all, consider the type of lighting you are using. Are there any areas of the office where you can use low-energy alternatives to regular bulbs, like LEDs? These can be particularly useful in appliances like fire exit lights.

You might also consider installing occupancy sensors. These gadgets sense whether or not there is anyone in a room; if there is, the light will automatically be turned on. Occupancy sensors are a great way of reducing energy usage in areas of the office that are used relatively infrequently, like the bathroom or kitchen.

Of course, the steps you take to reduce your energy usage will depend in great part on the nature of your business. What works for a mainly office-based firm may not work for a construction company, for example.

But the first step to cutting your energy usage is simply to sit down and consider the green measures you could use in your business. So grab a pen, and get cutting!

Josh Hall is Business Correspondent at business insurance comparator at SimplyBusiness.co.uk

For more information on buying insurance for your business, visit www.SimplyBusiness.co.uk/insurance