Resources and Tips / 10 ways to reduce your business’s emissions and contribute to a low-carbon future

10 ways to reduce your business’s emissions and contribute to a low-carbon future

By SME Institute

With the world facing soaring temperatures, wildfires, floods and terrible droughts, business owners are feeling increasing pressure to cut emissions. Adopting strategies that align a company with the transition to a low-carbon future is becoming the norm for businesses looking to do their part to help green the economy, stay abreast of market expectations and establish a competitive leadership position. It can also facilitate regulatory approvals and mitigate operational risk.

And businesses can send an important message to their clients, customers and the wider business community that they are assuming their responsibility to work toward a greener economy.

There are many options that businesses of all sizes can explore to reduce their carbon footprint. Here are 10 steps that will make a difference, whether you are a start-up or a long-running operation.

  1. Get a handle on your carbon footprint to check on progress

    By measuring your impact on the environment, you can monitor the progress of the emissions-reducing measures you put in place. BDC recommends that one place to start is with the Natural Resources Canada Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. This can help you estimate your carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions or energy use as a first step toward developing an environmental plan.

    The cost of consulting an expert on reducing your carbon footprint can be offset by energy savings. And another good option is B Corp, a global non-profit that provides a certification process for for-profit companies. For start-ups and small companies, it has a process called Pending B Corp to give these firms a head start on qualifying.

  2. Reduce energy consumption

    One of the simplest and easiest ways to green your company in a major way is investing in renewable energy—such as solar and wind. —to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your business.

    Besides switching your energy source, options for establishing a greener, more energy-efficient office or building are numerous. Based on an energy audit, you can invest in retrofitting to cut energy expenses by replacing leaky doors, windows and insulation and installing energy-efficient lighting and control systems. Long-term savings can be realized by replacing aging equipment with high efficiency products.

    Government financial support, such as Ontario’s Save on Energy Retrofit Program, are available to help transform your business operations with energy-saving equipment or controls.

  3. Recycle

    Recycling offers simple, achievable steps to improve your business’s carbon footprint. Suggested strategies include analyzing your waste production to provide the data to chart improvements and then bringing in a Recycling Program or a Zero Waste Initiative with the aim of modifying and regulating your packaging and distribution practices and waste handling.

  4. Use Sustainable Suppliers

    Part of your effort to promote a low-carbon future should include searching out and prioritizing sustainable suppliers. Small businesses have the flexibility to lead the way by switching to environmentally-friendly suppliers with a dedication to providing alternative materials, reducing waste and minimizing environmental impact.

  5. Switch to Fully Electric Company Cars

    Besides being cleaner to operate, EVs can cut maintenance costs, reduce dependence on unpredictable fuel tabs, subdue noise pollution for employees and local residents and provide a sustainable transport option. Government incentives for EV purchases may be available.

  6. Prioritize online meetings and events

    Transport—by ground or air—is responsible for over a quarter of global CO2 emissions every year. You can make a contribution to reducing this huge source of emissions by substituting virtual meetings for unneeded travel, a process that everyone has already become accustomed to during the pandemic. You may also want to allow employees to work remotely, facilitate car-pooling or encourage bike-riding to work.

  7. Look into the possibility of offsetting carbon

    Businesses can “offset” their carbon footprint by investing in projects—both locally and internationally–that reduce or store carbon, thus compensating for the GHG emissions the company emits in its operations. These projects may include forest and wetlands conservation, transport efficiency upgrades and renewable energy. Offset programs are available for all enterprises—big or small.

  8. Encourage a business-wide commitment to reducing emissions

    Talking to everyone in your business and clearly explaining your commitment to GHG reductions will encourage your workers to get on board in the effort. Don’t forget to consult with employees to get their feedback and suggestions. And don’t forget as well to feature your emissions-reduction practices in your communications strategy.

  9. Understand the benefits of sustainable partnerships

    For a small or medium-sized business, the experience and resources needed to navigate the demands of sustainable practices may not always be available. One increasingly popular solution is teaming up with another company or companies to realize mutual benefits related to sustainability goals.

  10. Search out Recycled Resources

    Sourcing recycled materials can help your business meet its sustainability goals while contributing to the effort to preserve the planet. And using recycled materials or selling innovative, high-performance products made from waste can be an important brand-building element.

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