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Securing support from decision makers, where timescales can be pressurised, is no easy task. Therefore, gaining consensus across functions will help to ensure effort is focused on the significant issues. And engaging the CFO and HRD will ensure people and finances are considered alongside environmental considerations.

“Avoiding waste

is always a good place to start.”

This joined-up approach stops us seeing environmental challenges, such as climate change, resource depletion and water shortages as single issues that have single solutions. Managing the environment must be integral to the business and action to address the environmental risks and opportunities must be consistent with the wider business values. Sadly, we haven't reached a point that they are.

WHERE TO START? The significant environment costs

to most businesses are energy, waste and water and may include transport. Quantifying costs, risks and constraints means you can use data objectively to support recommendations for action.


PERFORMANCE Environmental improvement objectives such as increasing energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions, link directly to cost. Capital investment in new, more efficient plant and equipment will reduce costs, especially where whole life (capital and running) costs are considered. LED lighting is a great example highlighted in many ESOS reports, which identified payback periods of less than 12 months. Energy costs include the supply and increasingly a user/carbon tax. The replacement for the CRC (Carbon Reduction Commitment) is likely to be an increase on the Climate Change Levy so any investment to increase efficiency and avoid consumption has the added value of avoided levy’s – something else to add to the cost benefit calculation.

Controlling energy use, such as ‘on and off’ times, zones and temperature etc. mean areas are not heated or lit when the space is unoccupied. This must work with the HVAC plant and occupancy needs. We are all creatures of habit and turn appliances on in case we need them at some point. Breaking habits by sharing good quality data about current behaviours is essential and providing feedback on successful turn off campaigns builds trust.


RAW MATERIAL Maximising value from materials makes sense – anything from re- using shopping bags and coffee cups to Rolls Royce leasing their aeroplane engines because they want to retain ownership of the precious metals. Avoiding waste is always a good place to start. Simple steps like not overordering and asking for take back of excess stock as well as storing materials so that they don’t degrade or get damaged will make a difference.

“95% of the world’s

top 250 companies regularly produce

sustainability reports.”

What about finding alternative uses - JPA furniture repurposed 100 items of furniture from the British Library, and city offices have reused ceiling and carpet tiles on site during refurbishments; low and no-cost options that cut disposal costs and stop valuable materials going to landfill. Segregating and recycling waste depends on engagement and communication with all the producers just as much as tidy secure bins.


AND NEW THINKING ‘Circular economy thinking’ challenges us to consider the products we use and whether they could get the same ‘service’ from a different business model. Could we stop owning things? We rarely buy CD’s and access music and films from the cloud, so what else could we do without? What if office furniture was leased and

could be changed to suit needs or the latest branding without throwing away and starting again? We can all be in contact with a smart phone or laptop, so why do we need offices? Is the social interaction the important bit? And does that work in a traditional layout? Setting aspirational goals will challenge ‘business as usual’ thinking and you never know where the next innovation will appear.


COUNTED Reporting on non-financial performance is becoming the norm and stakeholders expect transparency, accuracy and some level of comparability with others. Around 95% of the world’s top 250 companies regularly produce sustainability reports, as their influence cascades along their supply chains, many thousands of smaller businesses must be prepared to account for what they do and what they plan to address. Increasingly, investors are more demanding and want to see tangible evidence of environmental actions and are stating that ‘environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues have real and quantifiable financial impacts’.


INVOLVEMENT Today’s employees are tomorrow’s leaders; they are looking at the sustainability credentials of organisations when progressing their careers. Demonstration of a cross- business, pro-active position on ESG helps attract and retain talent. Customers too are becoming more selective, demanding products and services that can be shown to be free from environmental and social harms and are not afraid to challenge unsupported facts.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? The environment as a business issue

is integral to good management. If you are unhappy with your score or don’t think your suppliers or customers have the same perceptions, maybe you need to start a conversation and start tackling common concerns. INDUSTRY INSIGHT | 41

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