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Ten tips for reducing your carbon impact


worldBecoming more eco-friendly can have a positive impact on budgets and staff as well as the environment. Henry Stewart gives 10 tips on how to reduce your carbon impact.

We are all aware of the threat of global warning and its easy to feel the problem is too big for us to do anything about it. However all our businesses contribute and we can all do our bit to reduce our carbon impact. The good news is that most of the steps result in lower costs or more engaged staff. Supermarket chain Morrisons, for example, has saved £3.4m a year by reducing its energy use.

  1. Measure it
    The first step is to find out what your carbon impact is, and which areas of the business are causing it. We used, at very reasonable cost. The Carbon Trust can also be very helpful, often cost-free.

  2. Turn equipment off
    A single computer left on permanently can cost over £30 a year. Several dozen left on overnight are not only a waste of energy but a considerable waste of money too, and the cost soon adds up. Ours turn off automatically if not in use. O2 reduced its electricity use by 15% simply by ensuring heating and air conditioning was turned off when buildings were empty.

  3. Install low-energy light bulbs
    An old-fashioned light bulb can use as much energy as a computer. The easiest way to reduce energy use, and electricity bills, at home is to ensure all your light bulbs are low energy. The same is true at work, though it may be harder work to find the low energy versions. And turn those lights off when not needed.

  4. Source energy renewably
    One of Dell's steps to carbon neutrality was to invest directly in wind energy but most of us have to rely on the existing electricity suppliers. All the mainstream companies offer green alternatives, with Scottish and Southern now sourcing 11% from renewable. Then there are specialists like Good Energy, that are 100% renewable. The cost may be a bit more but as well as getting a warm feeling for doing good, you also avoid the government's energy tax.

  5. Reduce car and aeroplane use
    Encourage car sharing, trains and bicycles. Explore teleconferences instead of air travel. Use the government scheme which provides your staff with new bicycles at up to half price. It doesn't cost you a penny but does give you the benefit of fitter, healthier staff.

  6. Make your IT greener
    Data centres and IT generally can be a major part of a company's energy use. There are complex issues involved, but technology like thin client and virtualisation can have a big impact. Get your techies to check out

  7. Set up an office recycling and reuse scheme
    Not just for paper, but also for card, cans, plastic cartons, cups – and also mobile phones and toner cartridges. And ensure, wherever possible, you buy paper and other products from recycled and sustainable schemes.

  8. Engage your staff
    Get your people activity involved. Set up green teams to find ways to reduce your energy use. Our Green Group came up with a range of changes. For instance, switching from paper towels to Dyson power dryers saved us £800 a year.

  9. Green your supply chain
    Work with your suppliers. Simply including a question in your procurement, about carbon reduction plans and offset commitments, will get people thinking about the issues.

  10. Offset what's left
    The above steps will reduce your carbon impact but there will be some left. To be carbon neutral you can offset this by paying for projects which save as much carbon as you use. At Happy we’ve been unofficially doing this by endowing rainforest since 1991. This time we used the project Rhino Ark, a conservation charity which helps build energy saving stoves that reduce the need for firewood by 70%. This conserves the woodland and wildlife habitat that live in and around the Aberdale National Park in Kenya.

This will make your company officially carbon neutral. As I've said its not only good for the planet but it makes business sense. It saves money, increases staff loyalty, gives a positive picture of the business and helps with answering those government procurement questions on your impact on the environment.

Henry Stewart is chief executive of Happy Ltd, the first UK training provider to announce it is carbon neutral.


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