Anthony Mayall, chief commercial officer at BiU, explains the most impactful ways that businesses can reduce their carbon footprint.

Net zero is fast becoming the business norm. Over than a third of the UK’s FTSE 100 companies have set net zero emissions targets for 2050 or earlier, and more will certainly follow as regulatory, consumer and investor pressure drives the shift.

The impact is being felt down the supply chain too, as organisations make climate change central to their procurement policies. One telling example is the arrival of new procurement rules last month for central government: any companies bidding for major contracts will soon need to have a net zero target and a credible carbon reduction plan.

It’s clear that organisations ignoring their climate impact will find themselves on the back foot. So, what are the most meaningful steps that businesses can take to address their carbon footprint? Here are our top three tips:

1. Measure your energy consumption at a granular level and take action (daily).

Your electricity and gas use will account for a significant chunk (if not the majority) of your greenhouse gas emissions. The first step to reducing this is to understand how much you use, where, and when. Half-hourly metering information is a good start – but it can be a challenge to get a clear picture from such a large amount of data. It’s here that energy and carbon optimisation tools can help – such as BiU’s Energy Alarms service. Our analysts use your half hourly meter data to investigate periods of irregular or excess energy usage on your sites, and in turn take actions to reduce energy waste. As well as highlighting instant ways to improve efficiency, it forms an excellent basis for a long-term carbon reduction plan.

2. Move your electricity and gas to truly renewable sources.

As well as reducing your energy use, you should be switching to clean energy sources. This may seem like a simple matter of choosing the best-value green tariff, but it’s not quite that straightforward. The UK’s system of secondary trading in green energy certificates (known as REGOs) means that it is both legal and common practice for suppliers to advertise “100% renewable” tariffs while really getting most of their energy from fossil fuel sources.

You need to ask potential suppliers directly how much of their energy mix comes directly from renewable sources. The more detailed the information you get, the better.

BiU’s energy procurement team can do the hard lifting here, and help you source a genuinely green tariff. We can also offer advice on other routes too, which offer greater additionality, such as onsite renewable generation, or corporate power purchase agreements (CPPAs). These options take more careful consideration but are worth investigating longer term.

3. Offset.

The word “offsetting” says “greenwash” to many people, but, if done in the right way, it can play an important role in a company’s decarbonisation journey.

The fact is, although businesses may have a credible carbon reduction plan in place, they won’t get to zero emissions overnight. Offsetting should be used in parallel (not instead of) genuine decarbonisation measures, to compensate for the emissions that have not yet been eliminated.

For offsets to be considered, they need to ensure environmental integrity, they need to be real, measurable, genuinely additional (reductions that wouldn’t have occurred without the offset project) and achieve emissions reductions. The quality of offsets is often queried but over the past 10 years there have been significant advancements and there are now excellent, widely recognised standards in place, including the Verified Carbon Standard and Gold Standard.

It pays to get advice

At BiU, we work with many companies, big and small, to help them identify the most practical routes to carbon reduction. We can help you come up with a strategy to fit your organisation’s needs and resources. Today’s businesses face difficult decisions to stay competitive, but our expertise can help you thrive in an increasingly low carbon economy.