There is a lot of advice out there as to how to reduce your businesses carbon emissions – from the SME Climate Hub, the Federation of Small Businesses, Business West, the Bristol Green Capital Partnership and more. It can feel overwhelming. So here are seven simple steps to get started. 

1) Switch to a renewable energy supplier. Low carbon energy does not need to cost you more, however some green tariffs are not what they seem. Paying a small premium to a company that offers 100% renewable energy will give you more confidence that your business is doing more to reduce emissions – and tell people about it .

The Best UK Green Energy Suppliers in 2021 and how to choose one
Please note at the time of writing the UK energy market is in flux and some of these suppliers are no longer trading. As energy prices are so high look for the latest advice

2) Improve the energy efficiency of buildings. Reduce your energy bills by switching to LED lighting. If your business involved heating systems, then investigate how to make them more efficient and insulate everything you can. Check you have good loft insulation, underfloor insulation, cavity wall insulation or internal / external solid wall insulation and double or triple glazing

Demand your landlord makes your buildings as efficient as possible, as you are most likely paying the energy bills – to do otherwise is burning money and increasing emissions. Landlords are currently mandated to meet EPC rating of C, but government policy will likely move this to a minimum of B so landlord will need to plan and invest for this. Encourage them to do so now.

The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) offer carbon surveys and green business grants that can help.

3) Develop a travel to work policy. How your employees get to work makes a big difference and you can incentivise active travel by installing shower facilities, better and more secure bike sheds and CCTV, and offering bike loans. Look at local public transport times and adapt working hours to make it easier for your employees to get to work on time. Over time plan to reduce the number of car parking spaces you make available to employees and switch these to eV only charge-point bays.

Travelwest offer free sustainable travel advice and support for businesses

4) Replace company vehicles with electric vehicles (eVs). Install eV charging points and reserve parking spaces for electric vehicles. Replace your company cars and vans with electric either by purchasing new vehicles look at the total cost of ownership of your fleet and consider leasing vehicles. Save money as eVs are exempt from road tax, have no benefit in kind tax for employees driving a company eV, have lower running costs (at least 50% per mile) and ensure your vehicles are compliant to the Clean Air Zone and futureproof your business for any future Zero Emissions Zone.

Action Net Zero offering a range of support services to businesses investing in eVs 

5) Install solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on rooftops. Despite the changes to government subsidies, the price of solar PV has tumbled, and electricity prices are rising fast. The return of investment from investing in solar PV is looking good and is getting better. Depending on the size of your rooftop you may be able to negotiate a Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) with no upfront capital costs, or many installers can organise finance or WECA may well be able to offer you a grant (link above). Combined with battery storage and a time of use tariff solar PV can quickly pay for themselves.

The challenge is getting access to the rooftops if you rent, and you may find it easier to talk to your neighbours and then to negotiate with your landlord together.

Future Leap can guide you towards a choice of solar providers, or there are lots of solar services available – looks for a MCS certified installer

6) Get ready to change your old gas (or even older oil) heating. The way buildings are heated is changing and is an important source of emissions. Check Bristol’s heat priority area map to see if your business premises is likely to be connected to the district heat network. If not start doing some research into air source or ground source heat pumps and look out for funding opportunities. If possible, avoid buying a new gas boiler and wait for a low carbon option to become available and financially viable for your business.

7) Talk to suppliers about their Net Zero commitments. Depending on your business this may be the easiest win of them all. Ask your suppliers what they are doing to reduce emissions, and when they expect to be Net Zero. Enough customers asking may well be enough to prompt your suppliers to change, so reducing your emissions. Look at your procurement policies and start prioritising suppliers who do have ambitions to reduce emissions, or suppliers who are as local as possible to reduce transport emissions. Talk to your peers and competitors about a joint ask of suppliers to change their practices. 

Creating a plan – once you have decided which of the above steps your business can take, turn them into a carbon action plan and share this with your customers and audiences. You might not have all the answers as to how your business will reach Net Zero. But you’ve started, so tell people what you are doing and encourage others.

For more support on creating a Climate Action Plan for your business 

Or for further support

Bristol One City Climate Ask – Sign up here
Bristol One City Climate Offers – Getting Started
Bristol One City Climate Offers – Looking for Something Specific
Support for Bristol businesses – grants and skills programs
Stories from Bristol businesses reducing emissions