A Straightforward Sustainability Guide for Small Business Owners

Small business owners often need to find ways to stand out from competitors and snag more market share. While product differentiating and clever marketing can help, another approach could be worth considering. By embracing sustainability, you can connect with eco-conscious buyers. Plus, along with helping the ecosystem, green business practices might reduce your costs, too.

If you’re wondering whether green approaches are suitable for your company, here is a straightforward sustainability guide from The Renewable Energy Hub for small business owners that can help you decide.

Pursuing Sustainable Possibilities

As a small business owner, it may seem like there aren’t many opportunities to reduce your carbon footprint or lessen your eco-impact. However, that isn’t the case. Even small changes add up, so they are worthwhile.

Plus, sustainable practices give you the chance to reposition your company in a way that can increase sales. Many shoppers favour eco-friendly companies over traditional ones, allowing you to snag more market share.

If you aren’t sure how to pick sustainable possibilities to pursue, start with internal processes. For example, implementing a recycling program while going paperless can have a significant impact. Both are viewed positively by customers and can boost your bottom line, all while helping the planet.

Reducing your utility use by switching to LEDs, installing low-flow sinks, and making similar choices is also a great place to start. You’ll save on your monthly bills while making changes customers may appreciate.

However, you also want to explore changes that have a direct impact on the customer. For example, switching to eco-friendly packaging and shipping materials may improve your position, potentially leading to higher sales.

But before you alter anything that impacts the customer, you’ll want to do some market research. Examine every aspect of your operations to find areas where you could use a greener approach. Then, analyse how current and prospective customers will respond to it, ensuring you choose strategies with the strongest return on investment. That way, you can help the planet while supporting your company’s financial success.

Increasing Customer Interest Through Your Shift Toward Sustainability

Once you’ve embraced sustainability, update your advertising to showcase the positive environmental impact of the changes you’ve made. That way, eco-conscious shoppers may find your company more enticing. Plus, you can position it as a differentiator, helping you stand apart from the competition.

If you’re looking for more ways to stand out from competitors and boost brand awareness, a new logo that highlights your commitment to sustainability is a wise addition. If you’ve got a tight budget, go with an online logo maker over a logo design service. You can create a custom design by selecting the style, icon, fonts, and colours, as well as adding your text. That way, the result is genuinely unique.

Another excellent option is launching a new social media campaign to highlight your new green practices. If you’re worried about campaign effectiveness, working with an influencer marketing agency could be the ideal answer. You can learn more about influencer marketing agencies on online job boards, giving you a place to check reviews, weigh experience, and compare costs. That way, you’ll get the perfect match.

Take the Leap and Launch Your Sustainable Business

As you can see, making your business green is simply about making a series of smart operational choices, ensuring sustainability is always a priority. By adopting a “green first” mindset, it’ll start coming naturally in no time.

Once you’re ready to take the leap, you’ll need to select a business structure. For many small businesses, choosing an LLC is a smart move, ensuring you get potential benefits like:

You can even bypass cumbersome attorney fees if you use the right approach. Begin by learning formation laws in your area, as they do vary a bit by state. Then, you’ll know what you need to do to file yourself, or you can turn to a formation service if you’d like a bit of help. Both options cost less than a lawyer, so check them out if you’re worried about cost.

Image via Pexels

Working From Home vs In-Office: What is Better for the Environment?

Working from home seems the most viable solution to sustainability when you have zero commutes and office energy consumption. However, whether remote work is better for the environment remains in question. The answer to making the future of work more sustainable isn’t quite that simple.

One would think that taking the commute and office heat out of the equation would positively impact carbon footprint. After all, sustainability relies on reducing emissions and energy consumption from large buildings.

However, this may not be the case.

Work From Home vs. The Office

For the average American worker, 29% of respondents say they spend 15 to 29 minutes commuting to work. Meanwhile, 25% of workers say they do not commute to work. For the employees who commute, that’s plenty of time and energy they could save when getting ready for remote work.

Many people do not enjoy commuting as the work-life balance is of the utmost importance for the modern-day employee. Plus, the expenses add up when it comes to public transit, gas, and maintenance.

Remote work may have its perks on people and the environment. In fact, carbon dioxide emissions from traveling decreased by 11% in 2020 when the pandemic forced people to stay home.

The Environmental Impact of Remote Work

When limiting the carbon footprint, remote work can easily seem like the simple solution to driving sustainability. However, when each person decides to use their home as an office, the following questions come through.

How much energy are people using at home with the air conditioner and heat? Is that energy use coming from clean sources?

According to the International Energy Agency, electrical home energy consumption increased by 20% due to spending time at home. This analysis shows that emissions could increase when working remotely versus someone who uses public transportation or drives less than a few miles each way.

Additionally, employees that live near the office choose to walk, bike, or take public transportation. If those same employees end up working remotely, does this mean they’ll move out of their city apartment and live in a house? Suburban homes account for 43% of energy consumption — meanwhile, apartments with over five units utilize 25% of energy consumption.

Furthermore, if they move into a house, they’ll have to buy a car as well. So, the question is if they buy a car, will it be electric or gas-powered?

As these factors come into play, a hybrid work environment seems to be the more favorable solution to sustainability.

The Possibility of Sustainability Through Hybrid Work

Remote jobs might seem like the future of work, but many companies are navigating the flexibility of working from home and in the office. Could hybrid jobs be the solution to environmental sustainability?

To create better sustainability, people will have to turn to electric vehicles to reduce emissions. On the other hand, it’s more costly for the environment and for companies to have a physical office. So, companies will have to work around the issue by downsizing their offices. In fact, 74% of Fortune 500 CEOs expect to decrease their office space after the pandemic.

A happy medium between employees working remotely and, in the office, could save energy when downsizing and scattering remote days.

However, the carbon will inadvertently fall on individual workers to invest in low emissions with people working remotely. For instance, solar paneling can save energy and reduce billing expenses.

Although solar panels are more expensive, the overall effect, in the long run, will help save on energy costs. Solar power accounts for only 2.3% of energy consumption in 2020. Nevertheless, this will become a work-in-progress as people find solutions to reduce their carbon footprint.

Total Sustainability Will Take Time

We may be close to achieving the sustainable option when working, but we’re not out of the water just yet. When thinking about sustainability solutions, it all comes down to companies and employees working together.

Remote work may not be the most effective way to create a better environment. Regardless, a hybrid approach could temporarily solve the issue until society can ultimately impact climate change. Still, this will take time and energy to rethink the effects of working from home vs. the office.

UK Makes Electric Car Charge Points Compulsory in All New Buildings from 2022

In a major bid to try and move drivers away from petrol and diesel cars, Boris Johnson announced in November, that electric vehicle charging points will have to be installed in all new buildings from 2022 as part of his carbon slashing plans.  

The new legislation making it compulsory to install electric vehicle charging points will apply to new homes and non-residential buildings such as offices and supermarkets. Buildings undergoing large-scale renovations which leave them with no more than 10 parking spaces will also be subject to the measures.  

Fresh from the COP26 climate change summit, Boris Johnson revealed in a speech at the Confederation of British Industries (CBI) annual conference in the north-east of England, plans briefed as “world leading”, to toughen up regulations for new homes and buildings.

It is hoped that the new regulations will lead to up to 145,000 extra charge points being installed each year in the run up to 2030 when the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will come to an end in the UK.

Boris Johnson said:

“UK sales of EVs (electric vehicles) are now increasing at 70 per cent a year, and in 2030, we’re ending the market for new hydrocarbon ICEs, internal combustion vehicles, ahead of other European countries.”

The hope is that charging an electric vehicle will become as easy as filling up with fuel.

COMPARE PRICES FROM LOCAL INSTALLERS

Compare prices from local companies fast & free

Enter your postcode to compare quotes from leading professionals. We promise to keep your information Safe & Secure. Privacy Policy

This move is another step towards reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Increasing investment in the infrastructure needed to facilitate a transition to electric vehicles was just one of the elements of the wide-ranging Net Zero Strategy document published by the UK government in October.

Boris Johnson said:

“We are investing in new projects to turn wind power into hydrogen and our net-zero strategy is expected to trigger about £90 billion of private sector investment, driving the creation of high wage high skilled jobs as part of our mission to unite and level up across the country.”

Boris Johnson believes that the country is at a pivotal moment saying that: “We cannot go on as we are.”

He told business leaders that it shouldn’t just be public spending that is used to “adapt our economy to the green industrial revolution”, but that the government will focus on science and technology, raise productivity and “then get out of your way”.

The UK government defended the new requirements stressing the importance of regulating less or better and taking advantage of new freedoms. It wants to lead global efforts in the transition to net zero in order to help the economy recover from the pandemic.

On the other side of the political divide, Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, accused the government of failing the UK’s automotive companies and workers.

He said:

 “Ministers have stepped back and left manufacturers, workers and the public on their own, failing to take the action necessary to make the switch affordable for families hit by a cost-of-living crisis. By extending the help to buy an electric car for those on lower and middle incomes and accelerating the rollout of charging points in areas that have been left out, would ensure that everyone could benefit and make the green transition fair.”

Only time will tell whether the current UK government has done enough at this time.

The government is also supporting a new loan programme worth £150m, distributed by Innovate UK over three years, to help UK small and medium-size enterprises commercialise their latest research. The “innovation loans” will be accessible to a variety of sectors, including green businesses and follow a pilot with businesses.

Almost 26,000 publicly available electric vehicle charging devices have been installed so far in the UK, including 4,900 rapid ones. However, the Competition and Markets Authority have estimated that more than 10 times that number will be needed by 2030. A total of 250,000 points have already been put in place in homes and workplaces.

IEA Says Renewable Energy is Set for ‘another record year of growth’

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and rising costs of raw materials around the world it has been another record year for renewable energy according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Recently published, the IEA’s new Renewable Market Report says that the growth of the world’s capacity to generate electricity from solar panels, wind turbines and other renewable technologies is on course to accelerate in the years to come. The Paris based organisation is expecting 2021 to set a fresh record for new installations with nearly 290 gigawatts of renewable power capacity being added across the globe. Even though costs have risen for key materials to make solar panels and wind turbines, renewable energy generation capacity, mostly in the form of wind turbines and solar panels is forecast to surpass the previous all-time high set last year. Solar PV’s growth in renewable electricity is forecast to increase its capacity additions by 17% in 2021 taking it to a new record of 160 GW. Within the same time frame, onshore wind additions are set to be almost one-quarter higher on average than during the 2015-20 period. Total offshore wind capacity is forecast to more than triple by 2026. It is looking likely on current trends, that renewable energy generating capacity will exceed that of fossil fuels and nuclear energy combined by 2026.

The IEA report expects this record growth for renewables to take place regardless of today’s high commodity and transport prices. However, if commodity prices continue to remain high through the end of next year, the cost of wind investments would go back up to levels last seen in 2015 and three years of cost reductions for solar PV would be erased.

COMPARE PRICES FROM LOCAL INSTALLERS

Compare prices from local companies fast & free

Enter your postcode to compare quotes from leading professionals. We promise to keep your information Safe & Secure. Privacy Policy

Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said:

“This year’s record renewable energy additions are yet another sign that a new global energy economy is emerging. The high commodity and energy prices we are seeing today pose new challenges for the renewable industry, but elevated fossil fuel prices also make renewables even more competitive.”

The IEA forecasts in its report that the planet’s renewable electricity capacity will jump to more than 4,800 GW by the year 2026, which is equivalent to the current total global power capacity of fossil fuels and nuclear combined. This is an increase of over 60% compared with 2020 levels. Capacity refers to the maximum amount of energy that installations can produce, not what they’re necessarily generating.

Growth has been driven by stronger support from many governments around the world adopting new climate and energy policies with more ambitious clean energy goals on cutting greenhouse gas emissions before and during the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow in November.

The report says:

“We have revised up our forecast from a year earlier as stronger policy support and ambitious climate targets announced for COP26 outweigh the current record commodity prices that have increased the costs of building new wind and solar PV installations.”

Renewables are in line to account for almost 95% of the increase in global power capacity through 2026, with solar PV alone providing more than half. The amount of renewable capacity added over the period of 2021 to 2026 is anticipated to be 50% higher than from 2015 to 2020.

This level of growth, however, is still only about half that required to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

As the world has emerged from the Covid pandemic, the world has seen both raw material and energy prices rise. These price increases have cancelled out some of the cost falls of recent years in the renewable sector. If prices continue to rise next year, the cost of wind power will return to levels last seen in 2015, and two to three years of cost falls in solar power will be wiped out.

Lead author of the report, Heymi Bahar, said that commodity prices were not the main obstacles to growth, however. Wind and solar would still be cheaper than fossil fuels in most areas, he noted. Gaining permission for new wind energy projects around the world was the main obstacle to further growth and policy measures were needed to expand use of solar power for consumers and industry.

Heymi Bahar said:

“We need a gear change to meet net zero. We have already seen a very important gear change in recent years, but we need to move up another gear now. It is possible, we have the tools. Governments need to show more ambition, not just on targets but on policy measures and plans.”

According to the IEA, it looks like China will remain the main driver of renewable capacity growth in the coming years, with Europe, the U.S. and India following on behind. China is expected to reach 1200 GW of total wind and solar capacity in 2026 which is four years earlier than its current target of 2030. India is set to come top in terms of the rate of growth, doubling new installations compared with 2015-2020. Deployments in Europe and the United States are also on track to speed up significantly from the previous five years. These four markets together account for 80% of renewable capacity expansion worldwide.

China is the world’s biggest carbon emitter currently, but the Chinese government appeared unwilling to commit to the strengthening of its emissions-cutting targets which had been hoped for by many. China ‘s target is to peak in emissions by 2030 which is considered much too late by many analysts if the world is to limit global temperatures to 1.5% above pre-industrial levels. This was the Paris agreement target which was the focus of the Cop26 talks.

In Fatih Birol’s opinion, China’s rapid expansion of renewable energy could see the country reaching an emissions peak “well before 2030”.

India, the world’s third-biggest emitter, also experienced strong growth in renewable energy capacity in the past year. However, it’s target of reaching net zero by 2070, which was set out at Cop26, is also regarded as too weak by many.

Fatih Birol said:

 “The growth of renewables in India is outstanding, supporting the government’s newly announced goal of reaching 500GW of renewable power capacity by 2030 and highlighting India’s broader potential to accelerate its clean energy transition.”

The demand for biofuel in 2021 is expected to surpass 2019 levels despite rising prices which are limiting growth, following a huge decline caused by the pandemic. The demand for biofuel is set to grow strongly to 2026 with Asia accounting for almost 30% of new production. It is anticipated that India will rise to become the third largest market for ethanol worldwide, behind the United States and Brazil.

Governments need to further accelerate the growth of renewables by addressing key barriers such as inconsistent policy approaches, social acceptance issues, permitting and grid integration challenges and inadequate remuneration. Another major obstacle is the high cost of financing renewables in developing countries.

Even with the faster deployment of renewable energy highlighted by the IEA’s report, progress still falls short of what is needed in a global pathway to net zero emissions by mid-century.