On the back of the Chamber’s Net Zero Live event, Steve Bolt, Director at BCR Associates, provides some simple steps for achieving Net Zero.
For a large number of companies trading in the UK, energy is a strategic spend as it contributes significantly to how they run their business. (e.g. for the manufacturing industry, it is essential to production).
In the last six months, we have seen gas prices rise by over 500% from a 10-year low for the summer of 2020. This is a momentous increase in baseline costs and will be crippling for many.
This, combined with the Government’s Net Zero target and recent statements ahead of COP26 that, “All of Britain’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2035”, everything is pointing to the need for nationwide reductions in consumption as this is the easiest way to reduce energy costs and achieve Net Zero.
1. Understand your business’ energy consumption
When considering your Net Zero targets for your business, it is important to understand your site’s consumption. Your overall usage is available from your monthly billing, but this does not provide visibility of the specific elements within your site(s) that are using the most (and potentially wasting) energy.
By understanding your site and how it consumes energy, you will be able to control your carbon footprint and work towards Net Zero.
2. Have a clear roadmap for Net Zero
Once you have a clear understanding of your business’s consumption, you can use this to build an energy strategy for your business. Careful planning will be needed to map out the right path for your business and there are also some hidden pitfalls that you should be aware of.
Some energy contracts have Volume Tolerance clauses, this commits the business to a minimum usage and spend irrespective of actual usage. Should you reduce your consumption due to efficiency measures you may still incur charges. Such clauses can be renegotiated at your next renewal, so it pays to plan your strategy out over a number of years.
3. Don’t be put off by the cost of investing in renewables
Renewable technology has advanced significantly, and numerous solutions are available to businesses together with finance options to suit. These can include Cap-Ex purchases through to renting equipment. Investment costs can be offset as the subsequent renewable energy is generated at prices significantly below current wholesale costs.
4. Make sure that you understand legislation and how that impacts your business
The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) and Streamlined Energy Carbon Reporting (SECR) are the two key regulations that impact larger businesses. Compliance is currently based on number of employees, turnover, and balance sheet and both legislations require businesses to track their carbon emissions and for SECR you are required to record this as part of your annual accounts.
5. Align your CSR policy with your clients
Decision makers increasingly want to align themselves with companies that are actively trying to do their part for the planet and the local community and it’s becoming a key part of the purchasing decision-making process.
A simple client questionnaire can help to gather useful information on your client’s approach to environmental concerns and adding your companies’ CSR policy to your website, on social media and on company documents will help you to demonstrate your green credentials and allow you to prove that your values are on par with your client base.
6. Understand the verification process for Net Zero
For those businesses that are not yet required to comply with SECR and ESOS, there are other ways to demonstrate your efforts to reduce carbon emissions such as PAS2060 or ISO14001.
You are not legally obliged to adhere to either, but in going above and beyond to verify or certify your commitment to reducing carbon emissions through a nationally or internationally recognised body, you will be able to establish credibility with clients, staff and supply partners alike.
7. Get buy-in from stakeholders
In order to take everyone in your business with you on the journey to Net Zero it’s important to engage with stakeholders. Depending on your individual Net Zero roadmap, you may have set specific targets that you want to achieve.
There may well be actions that you need staff to take, such as switching off equipment when not in use or parameters that you have set for suppliers and network partners. By working with stakeholders and setting a clear roadmap you are more likely to achieve your Net Zero ambitions.
BCR Associates has designed an energy management process which will help you to make informed decisions on how to start the journey to Net Zero. For further information, please get in touch via email at email@example.com or by calling 03330 433 233.