Human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are a primary driver of climate change – and present one of the world’s most pressing challenges. This link between global temperatures and greenhouse gas concentrations – especially CO2 – has been true throughout Earth’s history. Businesses must make sure that they are not complicit in worsening the situation. Especially today, when climate change has been visible for decades. There are a multitude of changes that can be made to the way a business operates in order to emit less carbon. We have compiled a list of alternatives to carbon emitting processes.
Switching to Renewable Energy
Having Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin, or REGOs, assures that the energy supplied to business is fully sustainable. Using renewable energy means that carbon emissions can be zero. This makes it one of the best alternatives to carbon emitting processes.
There are a number of options for renewable energy in business locations. Businesses will have to choose which energy source they want based on where they are based and how much they are capable of investing.
- Wind power – Uses wind turbines to generate electricity. This is suitable only if businesses have acres of spare land.
- Solar PV panels – Uses sunlight to generate electricity. These are easy to install and can be fitted on the side of almost all buildings.
- Solar thermal energy – Uses sunlight to heat the water stored in a hot water tank.
- Biomass systems – Generates electricity and heat by burning or fermenting organic material, such as straw or wood pellets, with a combined heat and power plant.
Reducing Business Carbon Footprint
Increasingly, companies are opting to travel less for business by using programmes such as Zoom and Skype. This effortlessly reduces the amount of carbon that those businesses are emitting.
Businesses should send people to travel by train domestically to reduce emissions from air travel. However, if air travel needs to take place, businesses should investigate the travel class that is being used. Using the 2019 UK Defra Carbon Factors for a-long haul flight, the emissions per passenger km for first class travel are 0.60kg CO2e, for business class 0.43kg CO2e and for economy 0.15kg CO2e. This is calculated by the amount of space taken up per seat on the airliner.
This means a one-way flight from London Heathrow to New York JFK airport will have a carbon footprint per person of 3684kg CO2e for first class, 2671kg CO2e for business class and 921kg CO2e for economy class. For those undertaking several trips per year, a switch from business to economy class will mean a short-term reduction in comfort but a significant difference in the associated emissions.
Increasing the Efficiency of Office Lighting
Changing lighting across a company’s building to more energy efficient options such as LED can make a big difference to carbon emissions. Where possible, businesses should ensure that natural light is used whenever possible. Natural light saves energy and has been found to improve sleep and avoid health risks associated with unnatural lighting, such as an elevated stress response.
Optimising Heating and Cooling Systems
By Implementing temperature controls, businesses can ensure heating and air conditioning is timed correctly and according to outside air temperatures, thereby reducing unnecessary emissions. This can minimise over heating or cooling. Ensuring that temperature is minimal during the night is important. Lots of energy can be wasted if heating and cooling systems are competing, this can be avoided by installing a Building Management system.
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Reduce, reuse, recycle
Businesses should think about how sustainable procurement can act as an exercise to engage employees by thinking of ways they can reduce consumption of items such as packaging, paper, food, water, laptops, and phones. The manufacture and transport of all these items has an associated carbon footprint.
Minimising emissions from food and food waste
Food takes a significant amount of energy to produce and transport it. Therefore, food waste can be a source of carbon, particularly if a business has a canteen that serves fresh food daily. Check with your waste contractor if food waste collection is possible.
They should ensure that kitchen staff are all trained and aware of the issue, and provide proper facilities, in kitchens, dining rooms and canteens for employees to dispose of any food waste they may have.
Businesses should make sure that there are vegan and vegetarian options available to encourage staff to choose to eat food with fewer associated carbon emissions. 18% of global emissions are associated with livestock agriculture. Providing employees with good vegan and vegetarian food can help to reduce your businesses carbon footprint.
Embracing any of the alternatives to carbon emitting processes listed above can help the ongoing fight against climate change. It is crucial that businesses make sure that they are not complicit in worsening the situation