Until a few years ago, a green investment often entailed a sizeable capital investment. To make things worse, often things like solar panels would become obsolete too soon, making many question whether going green was a smart business investment. But now that’s all changed and going green is no longer a burden on the bottom line. With society’s environmental conscience becoming ever aware of climate break down and the world’s focus turning to COP26, businesses are finding that green investments can also boost the top line as well. Staff thrive if they have an environmental purpose, and increasingly the public wants to buy produce and services from companies that can show they care about the environment. So what should SMEs consider when making a green investment?
Feeling the heat
In the UK, it is thought that 19% of our greenhouse gas emissions are a result of warming up the places where we live and work. That’s because many premises rely on fossil fuel burning, notably in the form of gas boilers. This manner of heating emits between 210 and 380 grams of CO2 per kWh of heat. Compared with alternatives, that’s a massive amount of CO2 production: technologies such as solar thermal (10-35 grams of CO2 per kWh), ground source heat pumps (50-125 grams of CO2 per kWh) and biomass boilers (below 100 grams of CO2 per kWh) are dramatically better for the climate. And with the uncertainty around gas prices as seen in 2021, the planet-saving will likely be a cost saver too.
Leading the way on blinds
Of course, getting the right temperature in your work surroundings is not just about heating. There’s cooling to consider in the summer as well. But rather than turning on the air conditioning, there are other, less harmful ways to stay cool. Using a solar film rollerblind, for instance, is a power-free alternative. One manufacturer claims that its technology rejects as much as 93% of glare, 87% of heat and 99% of UV light from the sun.
Born to be rewild
Businesses that own spare land can easily invest in rewilding it for the purpose of attracting bees and planting trees that help offset some of the CO2 that they create. But more likely than not, joining a ready-established project will have a bigger impact. Fortunately, the rewilding of many parts of the UK, a processes that encourages nature to replenish and flourish, is an act that many businesses can join in on. This might entail making donations to local rewilding groups or becoming an active, official sponsor. The Yorkshire Rewilding Network, for instance, is one of many such groups that publishes a list of its official sponsors https://www.yorkshirerewildingnetwork.org.uk/sponsors/
Run an electric fleet
If you’ve had doubts about running an electric vehicle or fleet, then the fuel supply shortages seen in September 2021 might convince you otherwise. In the UK some 40,000 people die prematurely per year because of outdoor air pollution – road traffic emissions are a significant factor. Since the introduction of ever greener engines since 1993 that regulate the efficiency of new vehicles (the euro engine system), internal combustion engines have cleaned up their act – down from 2.72 g/km of CO2 for new petrol cars before 1993 to 0.5 g/km of CO2. But public policy is still moving against conventional-powered engines and the age of electric is dawning. The expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone to the North and South Circular roads, for instance, is another nudge businesses will feel towards running an electric vehicle. And by 2030, sales of new petrol and diesel cars will end in the UK.
Choose a green photocopier
The trend of the paperless office might lead you to believe that photocopiers and printers are obsolete. But for businesses that can’t go entirely digital, there are green options when considering which photocopier/printer to use. With companies including HP and Xerox advocating a greener line of machines that emit less CO2 (as well as ozone), SMEs can not only reduce their carbon footprint with better technology, but also get to learn the impact that using the new machines have.