#GreenAchieverBlog

10th July 2020

The Green Achiever Working from Home guide

With many workplaces shifting to permanently adopt more home working, the remit of 'business environmental impact' also shifts. In the previous blog we explored the effects of social distancing on office resource and energy consumption. We now focus on providing the support required for employees to limit their environmental impact whilst working from home.  

Organising Work Patterns

Arrange for employees to work in the office together (within social distancing limitations) so the heating and lighting can be on for one day rather than intermittently all week.  

Setting up your home office

Now lockdown has forced us to stay at home for the past three months, many businesses are viewing working from home as a viable long-term option. It’s possible that employees may have been ‘making do’ but are starting to establish a pop-up home office with a proper office chair as a minimum (rather than using the spare dining chair for example) and perhaps a dedicated desk if space allows.   

Actions

  • Encourage staff to explore recycled or second hand options from websites such as ebay, gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, or Preloved. 

  • Allow staff to borrow items of furniture from the office if possible and safe to do so. 

Heating

Luckily it’s summer, but judging by today’s weather it might occasionally be necessary to put the heating on.   

Actions

  • Remind staff that each 1 degree reduction can lead to an 8% saving on your energy bill and carbon emissions (Carbon Trust)!

  • Encourage staff to draft-proof their home office.

  • Emphasise the benefits of choosing a sweatshirt over turning up the thermostat. 

Energy use

Depending on the type of business, it’s likely that employees will be working from a laptop or home PC, remote working. Some may also have an extra monitor. 

Actions

  • Educate staff on the need to fully switch laptops off after finishing for the day. This not only saves energy, but is good for mental health. 

  • Encourage staff to put laptops to sleep during lunch/exercise breaks. 

  • If possible, put your laptop on battery saving mode. Do this on most models by clicking on the battery icon and changing battery settings. This will make your battery last longer, thus requiring less charging. 

  • Encourage employees to swap their light bulbs to LEDs if possible.

Waste and recycling

Even though your staff may be working from home, any waste they produce connected with your business legally remains your responsibility as it constitutes ‘commercial’ not ‘domestic’ waste. It is important you and your employees are both aware of this.

For some usual waste created at work – waste paper, remains of lunch, etc – it will be difficult to segregate and return to the employer to dispose of (depending on the amount of paper and confidentiality of course) but it would helpful to take the following actions to reduce waste where possible:-

Actions 

  • Ask that staff print only when necessary, that they print double sided, and that any scrap paper is used for note making. 

  • If any electrical waste (WEEE) is created (broken computers or printers provided by work) it mustn’t simply be put in the bin. The employer has a responsibility to dispose of these items as much of it constitutes ‘Hazardous’ waste.  Ensure your employees know to bring the WEEE into the office for the weekly meetings so it can be disposed of properly.

  • Every year an estimated 2 million tonnes of WEEE items are discarded by householders and companies in the UK. WEEE includes most products that have a plug or need a battery, including the below:

    • IT and telecommunications equipment – e.g. personal computers, copying equipment, telephones and pocket calculators.

    • Lighting equipment e.g. straight and compact fluorescent tubes and high intensity discharge lamps

    • Electrical and electronic tools – e.g. drills, saws and sewing machines, electric lawnmowers

 

If your business is currently accredited with Green Achiever, we can review your policy to include these steps either on you annual renewal date or sooner. 

Alternatively, click here to start tracking your green business progress with Green Achiever Accreditation and support.

 

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26th June 2020

How do I calculate my business carbon footprint post COVID?

In order to work safely and productively businesses have had to overcome various challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been tough, but the new, innovative styles of working that have bloomed during this time bring big benefits for the environment. Here, Green Achiever examines the need to recalculate your business carbon footprint, and how you can start the process today. 

There are a variety of ways in which your business has indirectly reduced its carbon footprint without pointedly trying.  

We have all been forced to think about what constitutes essential travel over the past couple of months, and so it may become clear that a large proportion of business activity will come under review. What needs to be done face to face, and what can be done remotely? Based on this it's possible that with fewer employees using a central office, the energy required to maintain them (heating and lighting) will fall. Resource requirements may also fall as businesses realise that paperless working is achievable. 

Your smaller, better 2020 carbon footprint should be recorded and preserved. Green Achiever accreditation allows you to pinpoint the exact changes that have worked to cut down your business environmental impact, and there really is no time like the present to capitalise on any unexpected environmental gains you have made.  

How should I prepare before calculating my business carbon footprint?

  • Find a calculator! There are several free carbon calculators on the internet and most will use data provided by DEFRA for background calculations.  

  • Once you find the calculator you like, make sure you use the same one each time you do a recalculation.  

  •  Most require information about:

    • Energy and fuel consumption – gas, electric, propane, oil, etc (your bills will include consumption as well as cost totals).  

    • Transport - miles travelled and the type of public transport used.  

    • Scope - you will need to be clear about the scope of the calculation. For example: will you focus on the operations in a particular building or site? Or will you include everything in your control such as delivery of goods, transport of staff to and from work? 

How do I evaluate my business carbon footprint? 

There is no easy way to evaluate your business against another business. Calculators are built in slightly different ways and the scope you use may be different to a similar business

The important thing is to use it as a  baseline figure from which you can improve year on year. 

If you want an added feel good factor you could do a financial calculation side by side; eg. see if your energy bills are saving carbon and cash.  Or you can use a metric such as carbon per employee or carbon per square meter of the property, carbon per £ turnover, etc.  This way, as the business expands, you’re still able to do comparisons year on year.

How can I reduce my business carbon footprint?

Pretty much in every case your biggest contribution to your carbon footprint is likely to be heating, power, and fuel. Heating and cooling tend to contribute some 80% of the UK’s energy consumption.  

The good news is that there are many actions you can take to reduce it.  With the Silver Green Achiever award, you have access to a consultant who can go through this with you on a one to one basis and give bespoke recommendations for your business.  

Your carbon footprint matters and is only likely to become more important as supply chain audits and sustainability legislation come into force. 

Guidance on carbon calculation, a qualified environmental consultant, and environmental audit come as part of Silver Green Achiever accreditation. Please visit our website for more information or call 01743 343 483. 

 

 

 

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18th June 2020

How can my business get back on track with environmental best practice post-COVID 19?

Green Achiever makes it easy to review your businesses’ environmental performance as the UK begins to ease out of lockdown. Here we explore ways in which your business can capitalise on more agile working practices with our support.

I don’t need to reiterate to you here how COVID 19 has had a dramatic impact on our working practices. We’re WFH in perpetuity, ‘OOO but working’, taking annual leave in Costa-Del-my house – we get it. “New normal” – I said it. Now we can continue…

Green Achiever has always advocated these ways of working for their obvious carbon-reducing benefits.

Self Assessed businesses will know that we encourage reduced travel and the use of conference call technologies to avoid long journeys and flights. We have always supported the use of public transport for business needs, and then only if totally necessary. Furthermore, we have linked countless businesses up with the Government’s Bike 2 Work scheme

In addition to this, we have always offered the option to have Silver and Gold audits completed remotely. Generally, in the past, we have found it more beneficial to be there in person, however due to lockdown we have now learnt that remote audits are just as thorough.

Yet, although we fully encourage increased remote working in future, we also support the health and welfare of employees and understand that lockdown – whilst great for the environment – has been extremely difficult mentally and physically.

Sometimes that walk, run, or bike ride to and from work is the exercise and release that keeps us sane. As a runner myself, it has been tough to find enough motivation to turn my usual A-to-B into a loop straight back to my living room or ‘sofa-to-sofa’. It’s vital that staff are feeling their best, and so we all need to consider the balance required to achieve environmental best practice at no cost to employee health – we are not robots.

With all of this in mind, Green Achiever are reviewing the way in which we guide businesses to achieve their green goals. We also crucially need to reframe the way in which we think about a businesses’ environmental impact when it is no longer confined to a specific building or identifiable premises. The situation has changed, resulting in a working life that blends the human need for social interaction, with an acknowledgement that work will still get done if people are not all in the same room.

How will we be doing this?

Environmental Legislation

As always, we begin with potential areas whereby businesses may risk breaching environmental legislation

  • Are you aware of how to legally and safely dispose of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)?
  • When working from home, are staff aware of how to legally and safely dispose of any WEEE?
  • Are you aware of how to legally dispose of hazardous waste/PPE?

Carbon

Then we examine carbon output, and possible ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

  • Do you know your post-COVID business carbon footprint?
  • Do you use Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or other video conferencing technology for meetings and collaborative projects?

Resource use - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Then we look at promoting intelligent resource use (reuse, reduce, recycle)

  • Do you encourage staff to purchase recycled or pre-loved home office equipment?

Through modifying our approach in this way, Green Achiever can continue to support thousands of UK businesses in their pursuit of environmental best practice.

If you’re a business that would like to start managing your environmental impact send an email to info@greenachiever.co.uk, or give Deb a call on 01743 343 403.

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Green Achiever: 2020 vision

Green Achiever launched over a decade ago. Since then, almost 3,000 UK companies have signed up as members of the scheme. 

We attract businesses from a vast array of industries: from manufacturers to cleaning companies, from dentists to hotels. And this isn’t surprising – there’s no reason why any business can’t join. 

Our mission? To tackle the climate crisis through the collective action of businesses. 

In our everyday lives it is hard to quantify the benefit of recycling waste, turning that light off, or taking the bus instead. Green Achiever enables businesses to measure, follow up, and quantify their environmental performance over time. 

Humanity’s contribution to climate change, the pollution of rivers and seas, contamination of land and air have never been so high up on the global agenda. Consumers are looking to their suppliers to be kinder to the environment. Let’s address this together. 

How can we help?

Get started - a strong starting point for any business is to identify all environmental legislation relevant to your business and check that you’re compliant.  Take our FREE tailored environmental regulation report

Identify current good practice – chances are you are already doing great things in the work place that contribute to a sustainable business. Set them out in a bespoke environmental policy and use our framework to create achievable goals. Kickstart the journey with Self Assessed certification here. 

Be recognised and rewarded – Once you’re up and running you can progress to a Green, Silver or Gold award. Explore your options. 

Connect you with eco-minded consumers – our directory of accredited businesses allows for transparency in the age of greenwash. Show the world you are doing your bit, as well as browse for green suppliers here. 

Training your environmental champions – we can help you to train your staff to take on the responsibility for sustainability in your organisation. Call Deb or Nicky on 01743 343 403 to learn more. 

Kit you out – we offer tools and guidance on waste management, carbon footprinting, carbon offsetting, waste minimisation, sustainable supply chain and implementation of ISO 14001, an Environmental Management System. Email dsc@greenachiever.co.uk to get the ball rolling on what would benefit you.