Information for Business Owners
Going Green as a Business in Epsom and Ewell
According to Surrey’s Climate Plan, currently, 46% of Surrey’s emissions come from the transport sector, with housing responsible for 28% of emissions, public and commercial buildings for 15%, and industry 11%. In total therefore just under three quarters of emissions are associated with either transport and non- residential activities. These are therefore the areas that need to be focussed on to make most impact. The role businesses have is therefore very important, not only in how it operates its key services but also how it influences behaviours in the workplace ( e.g travel to work) and how it responds to the demands of its clients.
Within Surrey there are a number of initiatives available to businesses. These are briefly detailed below:
Action Surrey is an impartial energy advice service open to residents and small and medium sized businesses set up by local councils across Surrey. It can offer advice on how businesses can reduce their energy demands, and invest in alternative greener forms of energy. They can assist in obtaining grants to fund improvements and recommend installers. Action Surrey’s website for businesses also includes useful guides on minimum energy efficiency legislation for businesses, on site renewable energy generation and provides a link to guidance by the Carbon Trust on how to go about changing behaviour in the workplace.
Some case studies include carrying out energy audits to highlight where energy efficiency savings can be made to reduce costs (and associated emissions) for a community group and a church with an inefficient boiler.
This is a programme for Low Carbon Across the South East (LoCASE) which is supported by the European Development Fund and provides a free business support programme with the aim of improving competitiveness and profitability whilst encouraging low carbon solutions. LoCASE provides grants for businesses up to the value of £10,000 as well as training workshops and fully funded events. The grant can form up to 40% of the cost of the project.
Any business can use the funding toward having energy efficiency measures installed and the grant can contribute to the cost and or installation of materials or equipment. If the business already offers “low carbon” goods or services a business development grant is also available to claim against costs such as IT, accreditation, and certification for example.
LoCASE started funding in Spring 2016 and will continue to offer funding through to Spring 2023. The partnership consists of local authorities and universities. For Epsom and Ewell businesses, the Local Enterprise area of relevance is EM3 and the relevant Surrey County Council web page can be found here.
There are some useful case studies to show how businesses have successfully used the funding grants including a village club which replaced their gas heating system with air source heat pumps, a small brewery that in addition to a solar array wanted to further reduce their environmental impact and successfully applied for funding to install a new more efficient cooling system and associated insulation to save an estimated 15t of CO2e a year or a nursery which managed to obtain funding to replace windows, doors and interior lighting to reduce energy usage. More details of the range of projects that were successful and the variety of businesses that benefited from such funding are detailed in the case studies here.
Greener transport options
As we highlighted earlier, the majority of carbon emissions in our area come from transport. Whilst transport infrastructure is managed at County level, there are still many useful actions a business can take to reduce such emissions.
Some suggestions of ways to encourage greener transport are listed below (for both employees and clients).
- Ensure business communications provide details of green forms of transport on their “how to find us” web and social media pages and any communications with business clients. This should include where to safely secure bikes and local cycling routes, as well as walking, train and bus routes.
- Ensure staff have access to cycle racks (perhaps install a few bicycle racks to replace a car parking space?) and facilities within the workplace to encourage behaviour change. Whilst showers may not be possible for all businesses, a small area or some simply some extra hooks to hang a helmet or an umbrella, dry a coat or put away some cycling/walking shoes may be all it takes to make the transition smoother and encourage more green and active travel.
- Promote car-sharing amongst employees.
- Set up a cycle to work scheme. This is at no cost to employers (sometimes there are even savings to be made) and provides tax free bicycle purchase for employees. Several schemes assist with implementing this. Cycle to work scheme implementation guidance for employers is available from the government website here.
- Our Sustainable Epsom and Ewell website Sustainable Transport page also provides useful information on cycling, including cycle routes, cycle training for schools and shops.
Spreading the Word
At Sustainable Epsom and Ewell, we have also found that having conversations with residents, community groups and our friends and family and when we visit shops is an effective place to start to explain our “green” actions. This has included conversations on why we no longer fly, why we cycle as much as possible (and which routes we use that are safe for children or less confident cyclists), how to reduce our consumption, why we compost, always bring a re-useable bag (and why we love businesses that no longer offer them!) or why we like to bring our re-useable cup to coffee shops. We have found many of our neighbours and local family, friends and acquaintances also feel that they want to take pro-active positive steps to reduce their environmental impact and strongly value and shop with businesses that show they also care about the environment. There are many actions we can all take and share with our work colleagues and clients to collectively reduce our impacts. It may seem daunting at first but it soon becomes a positive habit making us want to go further!