Most office-based, service businesses, should look to slash emissions caused by employee commutes before tackling other energy-saving initiatives if they are serious about reducing their carbon footprint, according to resource efficiency specialist Ecosurety.
The company made the discovery after it found that over 50% of its own emissions as a business directly resulted from employee journeys to and from its business park location on the outskirts of Bristol.
Businesses should prioritise a range of CO2-busing initiatives to ensure as many staff as possible take them up, and bring down emissions, believes Ecosurety. Ideas include allowing more employees to work from home, to providing incentives to enable staff to use public transport. Another is stipulating a ‘no travel week’ once a month to reduce annual emissions, plus encouraging suppliers and customers to lower their carbon footprint to create a virtuous circle.
Robbie Staniforth, commercial manager at Ecosurety, says: “Many companies are based in business parks on the edge of towns, which means most workers have no other option but to travel in and out every day, causing tailbacks, stress and the inevitable fumes that arise from sitting in a stationary car at traffic lights. A lot of firms don’t believe they can change their environmental impact because of this, and instead concentrate on recycling or putting in solar panels, etc. These are all good efforts but the real difference is made by encouraging employees to ditch the car altogether, something the Government is also very keen for commuters to do.”
Companies also need to back up their no travel policies with technologies – such as web-based or virtual meetings – to help make reduced travel a reality, he says.
The average commuter burns up 500kg of energy every year, according to the Carbon Trust. Around 2kg of carbon could be saved for every journey under three miles where a commuter has walked instead of taking a car. Even electric company car journeys undertaken by a single driver result in more Co2 emitted per kilometre than if the same person travelled by train, coach, or shared a petrol or diesel car journey with four passengers.
Ecosurety has devised a travel to work scheme which aims to partner potential commuters inside, but also between organisations based on the same business park, to provide alternative commutes to work. The scheme is open to individuals but also companies. For more information see: https://joinmyjourney.org/
Once the emissions have been tackled, additional measures can be taken by organisations, including:
- Devising a food waste bin for staff lunches etc. It’s preferable for food to go into a compost bin rather than into landfill
- Asking employees to clean recyclable items going in the recycling bin. Food waste on recyclable material can contaminate the whole bin
- Turning off standby on computer screens and other computer equipment to conserve energy
- Offering local employees a free bus journey to and from work, and reserve the office carpark for visitors and employees travelling long distances
- Installing solar panels onto the roof if the company owns the building
- Planting one large tree for every large customer your company gains; the more the business grows, the more trees can be planted
- Providing fully biodegrade teabags. Most teabags are only between 70% and 80% biodegradable and while they can be composted, a small residue of plastic will be left behind