What’s the main reason why you’d want to start reducing your business carbon footprint today? Be honest. It’s the “reducing costs & improving your employees’ productivity & increasing profitability” trio, right?
Followed closely by improving your green credentials, better serving your community, and influencing how your clients and collaborators perceive your company.
With technology as your ally, reducing your company’s carbon footprint gets easier. And more impactful.
So there’s no reason you can’t start making even small, but effective changes today.
Speaking of which, here’s a handy guide we’re put together to help you get started right away.
Let’s Talk About Carbon Footprint (In Business)
Before we delve deep into those simple ways to reduce carbon footprint, let’s see:
- what carbon footprint really is (and why is carbon footprint important)
- what carbon footprint for business is more exactly
In short, a carbon footprint is the quantification of the impact that our activities have on the environment.
These “activities” can range from transportation to burning fossil fuels for electricity, manufacturing goods, air traveling, to heating.
It gets calculated in a defined period of time, at the individual level (or household level), as well as the business level.
For instance, did you know that:
- total annual U.S. GHC emissions increased by 2% from 1990 to 2019?
- in 2006 the raw material consumption per person was over 13 metric tons compared to only 2 metric tons back in 1900?
- food waste represents 22% of the municipal solid waste stream in the U.S, with 50% more food being wasted by the average American nowadays compared to 1970?
“And what is the business carbon footprint?”
The carbon footprint of businesses is a measure of the CO2 emissions produced by a company’s business activities throughout the year.
And the two major sources of office-related carbon dioxide emissions are commuting and building operations.
Building operations that range from heating and air conditioning to lightning and electrical appliances to office equipment, to… hot water.
How do they translate into CO2 emissions? Here are some numbers to work with:
With staff working in an office building on a 2-day project and the carbon cost of 0.005 tonnes of CO2 per day for heating/air conditioning, the carbon emissions released would be the equivalent of 0.009 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
And, if we are to delve into numbers even deeper: with a space of 10 square meters allocated to each employee, your office footprint would be 0.91 tonnes of CO2 released per year, roughly.
Understanding Scopes 1, 2, 3 of Carbon Emissions
Going further, your company’s CO2 emissions are categorized into 3 scopes: direct emissions, indirect emissions-owned, and indirect emissions-not owned.
Scope 1 Emissions
They’re emissions produced by a company’s owned (or controlled) sources like its heating sources, the total of its vehicles, and air conditioners/refrigerators.
Scope 2 Emissions
They’re indirect emissions, released from the consumption of the energy a company bought from a utility provider (through heat, steam, and cooling)
Scope 3 Emissions
They include all the CO2 emissions that don’t fall into the “scope 2” category.
Think of indirect emissions resulting from the waste generated by your various business operations: business travels, leased assets, franchises, transportation and distribution, employee commutes, emissions resulting from waste disposal, etc.
Why Should You Reduce Your Business Carbon Footprint?
Here are 4 possible reasons for reducing environmental footprint:
- Because you want to keep the negative impact your company could have on the environment to a minimum
- Because you want to protect your brand’s reputation and to be known for your green credentials
- Because you want to better serve your community, to act as a member of the “global” community
- Because you want to contribute to a sustainable future and, even more, to get a head start on your competitors in meeting future regulations around energy consumption
In short, ethics, integrity, and brand reputation do weigh heavenly in your decision of reducing your carbon footprint as a business.
And yet, the most compelling reasons why you might want to lower your business carbon footprint are the immediate and tangible benefits you can expect from taking such actions:
- You cut down operating costs by optimizing your operations and implementing more efficient business practices across the organization. Think using fewer resources, consuming less energy, and managing less waste.
- You boost your employees’ productivity. Just consider the impact of implementing smart working strategies on your staff’s overall productivity. And the impact of adopting more sustainable practices and encouraging greener habits would have on their morale and motivation.
And a study on how Covid and climate change are impacting workplaces has shown it: for 65% of the respondents the existence of a strong and transparent environmental policy is a critical criterion when choosing the company they want to work for.
8 Ways to Reduce Your Business Carbon Footprint
8 simple ways to reduce carbon footprint as a company.
Because no, it doesn’t have to be complicated or discouragingly expensive:
1. Downsize Office Space
Start by assessing your current floor space use and acknowledging the fact that a large office space — housing servers and all the equipment required — consumes a lot of energy. And roughly calculate the savings you’d make by downsizing your office space.
Then, see what efforts you could make to reduce storage and get the most out of the use of floor space.
Here are some ideas to ponder:
- Switch from an on-premise strategy to a cloud-first approach
- Opt for a hybrid work model and rent a smaller office space instead
- Encourage your staff to come up with innovative ideas for reducing the storage footprint
2. Promote a Paperless Culture
How can companies reduce their carbon footprint? An obvious way to do this is by reducing the use of paper in their businesses.
This is a great example of the role of technology in reducing environmental footprint.
That in addition to helping you reduce your budget expenses — have you ever calculated how much you spend, annually, managing paper? — and making things easier for the employees, themselves.
Just think about the amount of time wasted in tracking down a misplaced document, filing one, or… recreating a lost one.
Paperless software helps you reduce your business carbon footprint. So, you’ll want to consider solutions like storing data and managing your documents in the cloud.
Just ask yourself this simple question: what processes can you start digitizing today?
3. Encourage Greener Commutes
Transportation is the primary source of CO2 emissions in the US: it accounts for 27% of the greenhouse gas emissions reported in 2020.
Here are 4 simple things you can do today to encourage more sustainable commuting and travel among your employees:
- Suggest to them the idea of lift-sharing: adding some financial incentives to your carpooling initiative will help
- Identify those situations where business travels can be replaced with video calls
- Embrace a hybrid work model
- Cover public transportation costs
And 2 bigger ideas you’ll want to consider:
- Replace your current car fleet with a greener one
- Put in place a more biker-friendly infrastructure
Last but not least: lead by example.
If your employees will see management walking, biking, taking public transportation, or carpooling to work at least weekly, they’ll be more motivated to join your effort to reduce business carbon footprint.
4. Choose a Laptop over a Desktop
Except for those cases where desktops are needed to run space-intensive applications, go for laptops.
It’s 80% more energy efficient than a desktop. Which makes it one of the most straightforward ways to get closer to a sustainable office.
One simple way of reducing environmental footprint is recycling.
And the most effective approach here is to make doing the right thing… easy. Implement recycling collection at your workplace with clear poster guidelines and dedicated bins in b reach.
6. Reduce Business Travel
Because yes, business traveling is one of the largest sources of CO2 emissions.
But it’s also the sector where you, as a company, can make a significant impact the quickest.
Here are 5 simple ways to reduce cartoon footprint for companies by reducing air travel emissions:
- For any short journeys consider less polluting alternatives, like rail
- Have just one employee, instead of a whole team, travel to a long-distance meeting
- Introduce incentives — extra days off, for instance — for those employees that choose to travel by train or bus (for both business and leisure travels)
- Opt for virtual meetings whenever possible
- Eliminate business travel as an option: since it takes up more room in a plane, a business seat accounts for almost double the amount of carbon emissions (compared to an economy one)
7. Choose Energy-Efficient Hardware and Appliances
Another handy way to lower your business carbon footprint is to go for the most energy-efficient options when considering new hardware and appliances for your office space.
Not only will you create a more sustainable office environment, but you’ll save on energy bills, too.
8. Invest in Workplace Management Technology
Another great example of how technology can make your business more climate-friendly.
Let’s assume that by the time you’ve reached this step in your strategy for reducing the carbon footprint of your company, you’ve already purchased smart appliances and adopted a hybrid work model.
Now it’s time you used the right technology to make the most of these green changes in an environmentally-friendly way.
Here, workplace management technology helps you better control space usage in your office. And eventually shut down those spaces that are rarely being used.
And with workplace technology like YAROOMS, you can even monitor and report on your location’s Scope 2 & Scope 3 CO2 emissions, easily estimate the future use of your office resources, visualize its carbon footprint and track your progress towards net-zero CO2.
Technology’s Role in Reducing Your Business Carbon Footprint
Efficient Utility Management
Smart technology offers you key employee behavior feedback data that you can turn into you the best decisions for more efficient utility use. And for a more eco-friendly workspace design.
Furthermore, by incorporating the right IoT devices into your workplace you improve the overall employee experience creating a comfortable workspace.
Optimized Office Space Utilization
How do you get the most out of your real estate investments and make the most of your existing office space?
You opt for an enterprise room and resource reservation solution.
It’ll help you manage your office space more efficiently. From conference rooms to cubicles.
And all that in the context of having both on-premise and remote workers and even multiple facilities around the globe.
In short, such workplace technology helps you make the most out of the office space you already have. And optimize your office footprint.
Reporting for Data-Driven Decisions
Technology and analytics provide you with the key data you need to drive the right insights. And make confident, data-driven decisions toward reducing your business carbon footprint.
Teaming up the human expertise in your company with machine intelligence to help you reach your sustainability goals is the best example of technology supporting environment-friendly business initiatives.
Green Workplace Culture
What makes a workplace “green” more exactly?
A green workplace is resource-efficient, socially responsible, and, overall, environment-friendly.
In this respect, green strategies are all those specific and cost-effective changes you make to your workplace with the environment in mind.
They’re all those sustainable practices and environment-sensitive habits you foster among your employees.
And technology can help you implement them. Think:
- Installing smart windows to your office
- Adopting the right technology to minimize the use of water at your workplace
- Opting for a green hosting technology
- Moving to digital platforms and cutting down the use of paper (along with paperclips, markers, and pens)
- Opting for video conference software for your team’s video calls, eliminating some of the regular commutes to work
If there were just 2 key ideas you’d take out of this blog post, they should be the following:
- When climate change and digital transformation meet, great opportunities to reduce carbon footprint for companies emerge
- Every green initiative turned into a small change made to your workplace counts
And technology can help you expand the impact of all those small changes that you start making today.