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The UK has set itself a target of achieving net zero by 2050 as part of the global strategy to minimise the effects of climate change. Net zero means ensuring the greenhouse gases we emit are offset by those we remove from the atmosphere. But with so much reliance on fossil fuel and a need to physically attend properties to carry out jobs and reports; how can housing industry suppliers contribute to the net zero carbon goal? 

Are net zero emissions by 2050 possible? 

Let’s face facts; we can’t cut emissions completely, and it will take major changes to both infrastructures as well as on a personal level in regards to our behaviours especially when it comes to our ‘throw away culture’. However it is possible and those we do emit should and can be offset by the natural absorption by oceans and forests and by new technology to create artificial carbon sinks. 

The lower the emissions, the easier it is to soak up the gases we create and thereby become a zero emitter.

Ensuring we add no more CO2 emissions to the atmosphere than we remove is considered to be essential if we are to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Experts say doing this could reduce the chances of extreme heatwaves, droughts and floods by the end of the century.

World Economic Forum

How can SME’s contribute to the net zero goal?

In the UK private sector, SMEs represent 99.3% of all businesses, 60% of the workforce, and 50% of turnover. So all SMEs can undoubtedly play a vital role in helping to reduce emissions to enable the 2050 target to be achieved. 

Many small businesses have little idea that they produce carbon emissions; however, the fact is that even the smallest companies, suppliers or sole traders do so through heating inefficiencies in their buildings, generate emissions via their vehicles, and even their own supply chain. 

Landlords and housing industry suppliers not only need to consider the climatic impact of their housing stock but also their organisation’s carbon footprint. The consumption of energy and carbon emissions of the organisations that provide housing need to be evaluated and working practices changed. 

By reducing their carbon footprint, housing providers can become more competitive through cost savings from reduced energy and resource use. 

Peer pressure

Consumers are now exerting pressure on smaller businesses as they actively seek out companies with good green credentials.

At the same time, larger organisations that are subject to the Sixth Carbon Budget introduced by the government will be exerting pressure on smaller suppliers to demonstrate their own agendas for sustainability and good environmental practices. 

Let’s take a look at how SMEs and housing industry suppliers can contribute to net zero: 

Energy-efficient buildings

9% of UK greenhouse gas emissions come from commercial buildings every year. Insulating the roof, windows, doors, walls and pipes will prevent the heat from escaping your building and bring down energy usage, which also means saving money.

The payback on investment from cost savings can be as little as 12 months and will certify contribute to the net zero goal.

Simple actions can create substantial savings in energy consumption and emissions:

  • Turn down the heating by one degree
  • Set thermostats correctly
  • Turn off heating and air conditioning when the building or home office is empty
  • Make sure radiators are free from obstructions so heat is optimised and not squandered
  • Install a smart meter – Propertymark supports smart meter awareness week
  • Install air quality sensors to optimise ventilation and building maintenance for energy savings
  • Change gas boilers for a low carbon alternative, such as a newly announced initiative for heat pumps or solar thermal, or install solar panels and generate your own renewable energy. 

Change to LED bulbs

A whopping 80% reduction in the cost of energy to provide lighting can be achieved by switching from conventional light bulbs to LED bulbs. LED bulbs last much longer, use less energy, and require less maintenance than conventional bulbs. 

Automated lighting controls that provide the required level of light based on footfall or occupancy can save more money. Again, payback on investment can be achieved within 12 months. 

Change commuting and vehicle buying habits

A cycle-to-work scheme using a salary sacrifice is a tax-efficient way of reducing your employees’ impact on the planet and getting them healthier.

Inventory clerks and industry suppliers can contribute to the net zero goal by changing petrol or diesel vehicles to electric vehicles can realise savings on fuel, tax and even road charges in addition to making a significant reduction in the worst of carbon emissions. 

UK businesses can also receive government grants towards the costs of installing electric vehicle charging points, which further helps by encouraging staff to consider electric vehicles with the convenience of topping up their batteries at work.

Inventory Base enables you to target clerks geographically with the diary features and functions to reduce wasted journeys and ensure efficient allocation of reports.

Choose your supply chain carefully

Are the businesses in your supply chain reducing their emissions? Choose a supplier that only uses renewable energy

Consider where your supplies are coming from, as a UK-produced source will have far less impact on the environment than buying abroad.

Evaluate your whole supply chain, including waste management providers, third-party transport and even customers, to identify any value chain indirect emissions.

Minimise the waste 

Waste is bad for the environment and bad for your profits. Production processes often contribute to carbon emissions by sending waste materials to incineration plants or landfills, which releases more carbon into the atmosphere along with other harmful chemicals. 

In the office environment, choosing energy-efficient equipment and using technology can greatly minimise waste. Landlords have software with Inventory Base hat can improve their green credentials including keep energy costs down by capturing meter readings, paperless reporting and work orders.

Ways to reduce waste include:

  • Using less packaging
  • Only using recyclable materials.
  • Avoiding single-use plastics
  • Providing clear label instructions on products so that customers can dispose of them correctly and sustainably.

By using Inventory Base software applications, users can further add to the net zero goal by utilising the features of efficient reporting that not only produces and stores all inventory reports in a paperless environment but further contributes to and off sets the impacts of daily living. 

Final thoughts

Small businesses must concentrate on reducing their emissions. Some reductions will be hard to achieve in the short term, but small businesses can take action to offset the carbon they can’t reduce.

For example, paying other businesses to capture or reduce emissions through renewable energy projects can offset the balance and improve the environment at the same time. Another example could be as simple as contributing a small fee for every report completed on your inventory booking service to planting a tree.

Running a small business can be hard, but adopting a green approach and should not be seen as adding to this. If done properly, taking a green approach can save time, money, enhance the reputation of the business and contribute to the net zero goal.

Ethical and sustainable business practices are good for people, the planet and your business. Embracing values like diversity, healthfulness, transparency and environmental stewardship can help businesses attract and retain talent, grow customer loyalty, stay ahead of governmental regulations and foster economic well-being and market growth.

Forbes – The Sustainable Impact Of A Paperless Office