Business owners across Kent and in the surrounding area are more than aware of the global fight to lower carbon emissions and achieve net-zero economies following the Paris Agreement. The UK Government has pledged a commitment towards achieving net zero by 2050 by implementing active green-business policies and realistic plans to help reach these climate-change milestones and achieve a net zero economy.
When it comes to Kent and the local areas, it is clear that many businesses are aligned to the Government’s pledge, and are making determined efforts and progress in adapting business operations to meet this shared net zero status in the long-run.
While local and national companies are faced with more pressing risks from supply chain issues and cost-of-living hikes, their business efforts into being more energy-efficient and sustainable remain in line and on track with the UK’s targets to address global warming and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
However, on the grassroots level local businesses and green business networks are providing Kent businesses with guidance for setting science-based, realistic and actionable targets to achieve net zero. Local businesses won’t reach net zero carbon status overnight, but by following a few key steps, companies can build a culture of sustainability and adapt to support the transition to a net zero future.
1. Communicating your net zero targets
Establishing a company-wide commitment to net zero, Kent businesses can create strategic plans and policies and share them with boards of directors, management teams, investors, staff, and clients. Set targets and timescales, measure current performance, and establish KPIs to keep your local business accountable. Communicating about your net zero plans will align your company and gain support.
2. Switching to eco-friendly energy sources
Every business premises needs sufficient heating and cooling methods, as well as power. While most businesses and individuals are feeling the crunch of the cost-of-living crisis and soaring energy bills, many have taken the plunge to move away from standard gas boilers sooner rather than later. Fortunately, the government has expressed similar support by offering the Renewable Heat Incentive.
There are other solutions that can lower carbon footprints and energy bills, such as Commercial HVAC or air conditioning units with built-in heat controls. In addition, adopting other step changes across your business can reap quick energy-saving benefits, such as opting for:
- ground-source heat pumps
- high-heat storage heaters
- electric radiators
- efficient HVAC, filters and air-con
- solar panels
- improved building insulation.
There are some common myths around energy-saving and it is also worth remembering that small changes can have a big impact. Encourage staff and company visitors to turn off equipment overnight, recycle paper or packaging and reduce their waste trails. Such solutions can help local business owners to lower their carbon footprint and still keep their premises cool in the summer, and warm in the winter, without it costing a fortune.
3. Using renewable energy
Choosing a green energy supplier creates demand for clean power and funds renewable energy investment. Switching to suppliers like Octopus or Good Energy means the energy powering your business is from renewable sources. Act now to prepare for future regulations.
Any business decisions that relate to energy consumption or what contactors to choose can make a difference to your business, although the current hiked costs are making this tricky for the time being. However, you might still want to consider that any investments you make around renewable energy are benefiting the local environment and increasing your business’ green credentials.
4. Adapting employee travel and work patterns
There are many ways to commute to work particularly if your office or premises are in a central location next to train stations and bus stops. Encourage your staff to change up their daily commute by walking, cycling, and using public transport. Even using low-emission or electric company cars and EV-charged vehicles can significantly lower your company’s environmental impact.
In addition, promoting hybrid and remote or flexible working patterns can be an eco-friendly move to make and well received by your employees. Remember, allowing remote and hybrid work means fewer staff commuting and less transport emissions.
5. Optimising your supply chain
Choosing suppliers and local customers also focuses your energy as a business owner on emission reduction and sends out a clear message that you are committed to tackling climate change.
Buying locally sourced products and goods requires less energy to make. Added to that, opting for a local chain of suppliers and committing to a transport service in your area will result in lower carbon emissions and will probably be more efficient for your business overall. Over time, these gradual changes will positively impact your company’s carbon footprint and your contribution to economic goals on a bigger scale.
6. Offsetting carbon emissions
Once you’ve reduced emissions, your company can set their own local goal and make more effort to offset their carbon footprint and become more committed to the green agenda. Think about supporting community projects and check out what other green companies in and around Kent are doing to provide guidance on offsetting projects.
Achieving net zero business status is challenging but offers many benefits for your company and community. While targets may seem distant, acting now improves efficiency, spurs innovation and cuts costs. Kent businesses and beyond have the opportunity to lead on building a sustainable future. Every step makes a difference in the urgent work of combating climate change.