Reducing your footprint and your energy bill – part of the Energy supplement

Being green need not lead to increased costs, especially when it comes to reducing an organisation’s carbon footprint, argues Alan Aldridge, Executive Director of the Energy Services and Technology Association (ESTA).

For some organisations, the concept of ‘being green’ still seems to carry with it the fear of expenditure on items which have no economic return. It is a ‘nice to have’ but not part of the daily business of returning a profit.

While there are ample studies to show that this is not the case, the perception remains. However, with increasing regulatory and stakeholder pressure to improve environmental performance, it is surely time to revisit this topic and examine the assumptions behind it.

In terms of process costs, energy is already factored in as an important raw material. Likewise, waste is subject to stringent disposal regimes within manufacturing sectors. Yet a great deal of energy is used outside these processes – for heating and lighting buildings, as well as providing power for office and ancillary equipment. While this may represent only a fraction of the costs of energy for manufacturing, it is still a controllable overhead.

Moreover, it features in many supply chain and reputational issues.

Energy consumption is the single largest contributor to non-process carbon emissions. In fact, about 30% of the UK’s carbon emissions come from energy use in buildings. And attention to this aspect of building use can help to bolster and enhance environmental management within an organisation, as well as saving money.

In manufacturing, raw material costs, including energy, are pared down to the essentials. Any wastage impacts on profitability and competitiveness.

That philosophy should apply to the whole of the business, not just the production side. Excessive consumption impacts on the bottom line. No business can afford that in these economic times.

There are other benefits too. Customers and the general public are increasingly demanding that suppliers and producers prove their environmental credentials. A large number of major businesses and public sector organisations include environmental performance in their criteria for selecting suppliers.

Supply chain pressures are not going to diminish, far from it. So a robust environmental management programme is becoming a differentiator between competitors and a key to unlocking more business.

Energy efficiency is the simplest and most immediate way to begin (and continue) a documented programme of environmental management. And it will save money too!