Low carbon – what’s in it for business?

Low carbon options are not just a rallying cry for the environment, they also provide businesses with the opportunity to save money.

Being low carbon or carbon neutral is not just about being green. With so much attention on rising electricity costs, it’s fast becoming a way for small business owners to reduce their running costs. There is also an extra incentive for savvy business owners to market their efforts towards an increasingly environmentally conscious customer.

So how can reducing carbon emissions improve your business’ competitiveness and profitability?

Firstly, improving energy efficiency can be used as a smart marketing tool. Sukin Skincare is an example of a carbon neutral SME that has used its low carbon certification as a selling point to customers. Energy efficiency is a key part of their business practice, driven by offsetting the carbon emissions of everything from manufacturing to office operations. Sukin’s offsetting efforts to date have been measured as being equivalent to removing more than 2500 cars from the road for one year. General Manager Alison Goodger believes that a natural product and sustainable business practice is in increasingly high demand by her global customer base and a recent survey supports this stance.

Indeed, Australians are becoming more environmentally aware consumers and are conscious that the products they buy are low carbon. According to independent research conducted by Net Balance and supported by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), 80 percent of Australians consider sustainability issues when putting products in their shopping trolleys. An overwhelming 93 percent of people agreed that manufacturer and retail efforts to reduce the environmental impact of products were very important.

Aside from a marketing edge, a more cohesive and engaged environment can be created by working together to improve energy efficiency. Engaging employees in a joint project outside their daily tasks has proven to enhance the internal culture of many companies.

Carbon neutrality is easier to achieve for businesses than most might imagine. Internal measures can now be taken to cut energy consumption, and therefore costs in the short term.

Here are five steps to get you started on improving energy efficiency of your own business, and reducing your carbon emissions:

1. Educate your staff and change consumption behaviour through examining consumption patterns across the business. Provide incentives for unique ideas and thought leadership.

2. Reduce travel and transport by adopting technology such as video conferencing. If the office is close to public transport networks, take a tram or train to meetings.

3. Minimise waste going to landfill by upgrading the office recycling system.

4. Implement energy efficiency measures to save costs. Simple solutions include efficient lighting upgrades, lighting controls, night switches, computer power management, timers, and air-conditioner controls.

5. Examine your supply chain to minimise unnecessary consumption and create a sustainable procurement policy. This can be achieved by working with low carbon suppliers.

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