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Is your business eco-friendly?

The growing unrest over the impact of climate change cannot be ignored by businesses.

The ongoing Extinction Rebellion in London, ethical investing decisions by major financial institutions and predictions of impending disaster by scientists and academics if action is not taken, has put climate change firmly on top of the news agenda.

For the past three decades environmentalists have put forward numerous calls to action for individuals, businesses and governments to change their lifestyle and practices to be more eco-friendly to slow down or reverse climate change.

But it has now hit a point where the issue is reaching a crescendo that doesn’t look like being silenced anytime soon.

The warning signs are there.

Earlier this month Legal & General Investment Management Limited (LGIM), which manages £1 trillion worth of the UK’s pensions funds, announced in its latest Active Ownership report how it has voted against almost 4,000 company directors.

As the largest money manager in the UK, it cited climate change as one of the top five reasons for voting against directors. LGIM is now ethically investing and will continue use its financial muscle to vote against companies that take insufficient action in climate risks.

Therefore, this is not an issue that can be ignored by businesses – of all sizes. The key decision makers need to assess what they can do, but it takes more than buying recycled paper and changing to energy-saving lightbulbs.

There are several ways in which your business can make in-roads to tackle climate change. This is not an exhaustive list but will give food for thought.

  • Cloud based computing – this reduces the impact IT has on the environment with efficient data centres and continual innovation. This enables business to replace desktop computers, which in turn reduces power consumption and carbon emissions.
  • Remote working – while this creates debate amongst employers and employees, the fact that employees can work from home has a major eco-impact. It cuts down carbon laden commutes and reduces the need for energy sapping offices.
  • Go paperless – this may be easier said than done as businesses still cling to paper documents and print and scan without contemplating the impact. Utilise apps and servers that keep all documents accessible via the cloud.
  • Encourage recycling – if you’re not paperless yet, then ensure you actively employ recycling. That may be paper or coffee cups or IT equipment. It has become second nature for most at home – just make it applicable in the workplace.
  • Green procurement – if you’re going green then work with businesses doing likewise. Whether that’s in a staff canteen or buying parts from a supplier. Encouraging others to go green will also have an impact.
  • Reduce water usage – fix leaks, install low flow toilets, consider if your business’s landscaping is water efficient and use sensor linked watering equipment.
  • Energy efficient buildings – can you make it more efficient in how it is powered and heated (solar)? If you are adding new buildings, construct them so that they are as energy efficient as possible. Consider light sensors that automatically switch off the lights when no-one is present.

Finally, going green does have a significant upside as the UK government has various tax incentives for ‘green’ companies, while surveys have indicated that consumers are more willing to support businesses that employ green policies.