Carbon reduction, SMEs and mandatory reporting - Business Works
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Carbon reduction, SMEs and mandatory reporting

Frances Darton, Achilles Data released by the government last year indicate that SMEs can have a significant impact on the UKs carbon emissions as they account for 45% of UK business energy use and could cut a combined £400 million annually from energy bills through relatively simple and low-cost carbon reduction activities. This news, coupled with the announcement from the government last month that businesses listed on the London Stock Exchange will have to report their carbon footprint from April 2013, makes sustainability and carbon reduction an important topic for businesses of all sizes.

However, SMEs are already demonstrating leadership in this area, championing the importance of CSR and carbon reduction as imperative topics to discuss. Frances Darton, carbonReduction programme manager at Achilles comments, "The introduction of mandatory reporting is a positive step and demonstrates the UKs leadership in reducing its impact on climate change. However carbon reporting is relevant to companies of all sizes and should not be viewed as a burden, but as a commercial opportunity to drive operational and energy efficiencies."

Frances outlines below top tips for businesses captured by the announcement and those looking to demonstrate leadership in their carbon and sustainability reporting:

  • Be proactive: if your organisation has so far managed to escape answering questions or having to report on your carbon footprint, dont think this isnt coming. Increasing legislation, customer requests, stakeholder interest are drivers for organisations already working on carbon take this opportunity to get ahead and collate the information ready for when you will need it.
  • Get started on your carbon footprint: dont wait until you think you have perfect data from all your business activities. Begin by collating what you have and you will soon identify the gaps and any data quality which can be improved upon. Follow a structured approach which can be replicated across departments and the business, as well as year on year, so that you are able to get a comparative view of your footprint.
  • Consider auditing your footprint: think about getting your carbon footprint externally reviewed and verified to a standard this will give you confidence in the data collation and calculation and ensure that your claims can be made with credibility.
  • Identify the main areas of emissions in your organisation: once you have a clearer view on where your emissions are coming from youll be best placed to focus your reduction efforts on key areas start with the quick wins for cost savings and improved efficiencies.
  • Sustainability is here to stay: Long-term thinking will set you in good stead when it comes to carbon reporting. We recommend choosing a structured approach that will support all your current and any future reporting requirements. Its proven that genuine leaders in carbon reporting reap benefits across their organisations, including operational efficiency, energy efficiency and cost savings alongside enhanced reputation, brand leadership and marketing opportunities.
  • Proud to be sustainable Shout about what you are doing and highlight your achievements. Its vital that your stakeholders both internal and external - know about your commitment to sustainability. Keeping staff updated on progress will encourage engagement and will be key in driving the behavioural change required to make in-roads in your reduction strategy.
  • Get the most from your carbon credentials: use the data youve gathered and the work that you are doing to measure and track carbon emissions to demonstrate to stakeholders and customers that the organisation is responding to the issues of sustainability and climate change.

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