What ideas do you have to help your organisation with its Net Zero target this year? There are so many different ways to identify and reduce work related emissions, across both your organisation’s premises and home workers, that it can be difficult to know what is worthwhile and what is not.
So, to help you out, here are 23 ideas from Energy Consultant, Tom McLeish, on how you can reduce your carbon emissions across scopes 1, 2, and 3 to deliver on your Net Zero strategy goal this year.
1. Run an employee survey to understand the emissions associated with home working and commuting.
A great first step to support your Scope 3 emissions initiatives; an employee survey will help you understand the carbon emissions generated from staff travel and homeworking. This will address some critical questions such as: how are employees getting into work? What emissions are associated with homeworking? Does home working contribute more or less to carbon emissions than office working?
2. Offer subsidised public transport for employees.
We found that a chunk of our commuting emissions came from employees who lived within a few miles of the office, but still drive in. You may find this is the case from your own commuting survey. Subsidised bus and train travel is a brilliant incentive for employees to use their cars less. Moreover, staff will appreciate the gesture as it will save them money. You could also consider a cycle to work scheme, which is a great no-cost alternative if you cannot provide the budget for subsidised public transport.
3. Ensure that windows are kept clean.
Something as simple as having clean windows can save your organisation money and reduce its’ carbon footprint. Clean windows allow more natural light in, resulting in solar gains, reducing your dependence on artificial light and heating. You could also encourage employees to make the most of natural light when working from home. Setting up home working spaces near windows reduces reliance on artificial light and creates a pleasant working environment.
4. Swap your lighting for LEDs.
LEDs are capable of turning about 70% of their energy into light. This makes them much more efficient than other bulbs, which waste a lot of energy by converting it into heat.
5. Install automatic lights and taps.
Ensuring that your lights and taps turn on and off automatically will reduce both energy consumption and water waste, saving your organisation money and reducing its’ carbon footprint.
6. Promote a paperless culture.
Encourage colleagues to only print when really necessary and where possible, share all documents and communications electronically.
7. Reduce waste from single-use cups where possible, by providing employees with a coffee machine.
Not only is this a kind gesture to employees, but it could also reduce the emissions associated with colleagues driving out to grab a coffee at lunch and using a single-use cup that will go straight in the bin when they are back in the office. Although the emissions associated with colleagues driving out at lunch are not calculated in relation to your Net Zero strategy, it could be beneficial to consider the emissions related to everyday practises within the workplace.
8. Encourage team members to dress appropriately for the season.
If possible, provide seasonal work uniforms. For instance, you could provide a thick jumper for the winter months and a lightweight polo for the summer months. This could save heating costs in the winter and air conditioning costs in the summer as staff are less likely to turn up heating or cooling if they are warm enough already, thus reducing the associated carbon emissions. If your organisation does not require colleagues to wear uniforms, providing employees with a winter fleece during the colder months will help them feel warmer in the office.
9. If your organisation provides food and beverage facilities for employees, explore whether you can provide locally and sustainably sourced options.
Food production and consumption are responsible for over one third of global carbon emissions. You can reduce unnecessary emissions by opting for food and beverage supplies that are produced and sourced locally and sustainably.
10. Provide an electric car scheme for employees.
Can your organisation partner with an electric vehicle company to provide staff with a salary sacrifice scheme? Electric car schemes have no additional cost to the business, with employees being able to save up to 40% on the cost of their electric vehicle, making an electric car a more realistic and affordable option. Pairing this with tip 11 will support your organisation in its’ transition to electric power.
11. Invest in electric car charging points at the office.
Social responsibility is key for businesses today and enabling greener transport is a crucial part of that. EV charging at the workplace sends a clear and visible message about where your business stands with respect to reducing the environmental impact of its operations and personnel. Moreover, it is a great way to encourage employees to transition over to electric vehicles by offering convenient charging stations at work whilst also subsidising the cost of energy as an extra incentive for switching over to an electric vehicle.
12. Where possible, invest in solar panels.
Solar panels have low maintenance costs, whilst also reducing electricity bills. If your organisation invests in both electric car charging points and solar panels, you will be creating your own energy you are simultaneously cutting the cost of charging the car. Depending on the infrastructure of your business, solar generated energy can provide a good proportion of the total energy needed for your organisation.
13. Buy second-hand office furniture.
If you need to buy new office furniture this year, opt for used furniture. Not only will this save your organisation money, but it will also reduce carbon emissions. Reusing and recycling goods avoids contributing to further manufacturing emissions associated with purchasing brand new. Buying sustainably sourced or recycled office furniture such as recycled polypropylene canteen chairs and bamboo desks is also a great way of reducing your carbon footprint.
14. Can you install energy-efficient hand-dryers?
Despite common misconceptions around the environmental impact of hand dryers versus paper towels, hand dryers remain the better option in the majority of instances, since modern models are often so efficient that they use less energy than a lightbulb. Investing in efficient, modern hand dryers can reduce your carbon footprint.
15. Does your office provide stationary?
Invest in green stationary for the office, this can be anything from recycled paper (when you really need to use it) to eco-friendly pens and pencils. Using recycled paper and plastic can save on the electricity, water and oil that are used during the production process, whilst any recycled office supplies, used as alternatives to metal, paper, or plastic, can reduce the amount of solid waste that gets diverted to landfills.
16. Switch off office equipment overnight.
Switching off equipment when leaving the office as opposed to leaving it on standby, is a great way to reduce unnecessary energy usage and therefore unnecessary emissions. Although this may seem like a small save, consider how many devices are constantly left on in the office at any one time.
17. Reduce food waste.
Did you know that food waste contributes more to carbon emissions that the aviation industry? 67% of office workers eat their lunch at their desks, however, naturally, with food comes waste. Packing a lunch from home can majorly reduce food waste. Whether it’s last night’s leftovers or even some fruit, packing food for the day means you don’t need to buy any unnecessary, single-use plastic and you have a set portion size. Plus, it decreases home leftovers and waste! Ensuring that employees have a fridge available at the office is vital to see to it that meals stay fresh and do not get thrown away. Finally, put a food waste bin into the staff kitchen to make sure all food is being disposed of correctly.
What can homeworking employees do to save energy?
18. Reduce business travel and enable homeworking.
Did you know that UK carbon dioxide emissions from transport were almost 20% lower in 2020 than in 2019? COVID-19 restrictions forced us to find new ways to do business. Online meetings have become the new normal; not only do they reduce the carbon footprint of your business, but they also improve profitability by cutting travel expenses. Face to face meetings and days in the office are still important for productivity, but it is vital to get the balance right.
19. Encourage employees to get a smart meter for their homes.
Encouraging employees to become aware of their own energy usage whilst working from home will help them take steps to minimise their emissions, whilst also reducing their energy bills. This will also be cutting down on the emissions associated with homeworking.
20. Incentivise the reduction of personal carbon footprints for home workers.
Your organisation could reward colleagues who reduce their carbon footprint by a targeted percentage. Not only will employees appreciate a scheme that supports them in saving money on their energy bills, it will also reduce the carbon emissions associated with your organisation’s home workers. One way to do this is by introducing energy efficiency training for employees to take part in. This will collectively aid colleagues in learning about how to reduce their energy consumption and associated emissions.
21. Close curtains and blinds at night.
Most of the heat from a building is lost through the process of conduction. When the inside of the building is warmer than the outside, the warm air seeks the colder air and will gradually transfer. Windows and doors tend to be the best conductors of heat. Curtains add an extra barrier that helps to slow down the process of conduction. This simple trick can save energy and money on bills- on average up to £10 per year.
22. Unplug devices from the wall.
Electronic devices still use energy when they are plugged in, but not in use. Chargers continuously draw power from an outlet, even if the device is not connected. Although this amount could be as little as 25 watts a day, imagine that with all the devices in the office or home, combined over the course of a year.
23. How well insulated is your home working space?
Loft insulation could reduce energy bills by up to £315 per year, depending on the home. According to The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, loft insulation can range between £125 to £1720 depending on how much is needed. Can your organisation subsidise the price of loft insulation for employees working from home? Investing in loft insulation will reduce heating usage, save money on energy bills, and effectively reduce the emissions associated with the overused heating.
Net Zero can seem overwhelming, but equipped with the right knowledge, your organisation can get on its’ way to becoming Net Zero with ease. Learn more about how you can become net zero here.