How sustainable is your organization?
How sustainable is your organization?
In recent years, sustainability has become more important in everyday life, and you can find elements of it wherever you go. Maybe you take part in sustainability at home — you recycle food containers, turn off the lights when you leave for work and try to sew the holes in your clothes instead of throwing them away.
How do you move sustainability from your personal life to your professional life? There are many reasons why making your business sustainable is beneficial for the environment and your bottom line. Keep reading to learn more about how to become more sustainable as a business.
Why go green?
The advantages of going green as a business are innumerable, and they aren't only limited to mitigating climate change.
An organization can portray its social responsibility by pledging to become a sustainable business. It's becoming more and more common that customers are weighing a company’s environmental impact as a reason to do business with them. This trend emphasizes the importance of staying up-to-date on sustainability standards, as failing to do so could cost you revenue.
Another reason to implement sustainable practices for your business is government regulations. In the United Kingdom, companies that don't pledge to go carbon neutral by 2050 can't bid on major government contracts. If you're unable to even bid on potentially huge business ventures, you could impact your business's growth. In other words, you're taking your company out of the game before you have even had a chance to play.
How to measure the sustainability of your business
Several factors can determine whether your organization is sustainable. These factors include your carbon footprint, how you source your materials and supplies and how much energy your business requires to operate. The only way to see an accurate picture of your company's repercussions on the planet is to conduct an audit.
Here are just a few components you should consider as you assess your business's environmental status:
Determine your carbon footprint
A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases your company contributes to the environment from everyday activities. This carbon footprint measurement is expressed in the area of land needed to offset your carbon emissions. That's because Earth is equipped with natural fossil fuel absorption mechanisms — the issue comes into play when there's too much carbon and not enough absorption.
Consider using an online calculator to obtain a rough estimate of your company’s carbon footprint or bringing in an expert to determine the exact number.
See how much electricity your office uses
Some of the easiest changes to make in your office involve cutting down on the electricity you and your employees use daily. Here are a few ideas:
- Use motion sensors throughout the office to switch on lights only when needed, especially in places like bathrooms and break rooms.
- Unplug your computer setup at the end of your workday, which prevents powering your electronics throughout the night when you're not using them.
- Encourage employees to open their office window blinds so they can use natural sunlight instead of overhead lights or desk lamps.
- Install a smart thermostat so you aren't constantly heating and cooling the space.
It may also help to hire an expert to do an assessment for you so they can provide specific reduction tips for your situation.
Compare your company with your competitors
One of the best ways to see how to become more sustainable as a business is to see what steps your competitors are taking to be more green. Through comparisons, you can find where you're falling short in your industry to be more sustainable. If you're in search of more general ideas, you can look at various kinds of businesses in your area to see what their sustainable initiatives look like.
How does your organization become more sustainable?
Now, it's time to put your new knowledge about sustainability into motion. The goal should be for your business to become at least carbon neutral, but how do you achieve that? Here are a few ideas to help you begin the process:
Internal emission changes
One way to change your company’s carbon emission levels is to reduce the amount of energy you're consuming in the office throughout the day. This could be as simple as switching to LED lightbulbs throughout the office or adding a recycling bin next to the trash. Consider changes you and your employees can make throughout your personal workdays to gradually cut down on energy use.
On a larger scale, decreasing business travel is another effective way to decrease your company's carbon footprint. Unless you must meet with clients or suppliers in person, you may want to opt for video conferences to reduce the need for traveling by plane. For times when you need to travel, consider taking a commercial flight rather than chartering a private one.
If your company produces products, such as clothing, you should take an in-depth look at your manufacturing and shipping processes to find specific ways to reduce your carbon output.
External emission offset programs
At the end of the day, going completely carbon neutral simply takes time, especially when you have a larger company. To help your efforts, partner with a program that will help you take carbon out of the environment at the same rate your company is emitting it. In other words, you can balance your carbon emissions by funding carbon savings somewhere else.
If you want to take your goals a step further, you can pledge to go carbon negative. This means you're taking more carbon out of the environment than you're putting into it. To get started, partner with a carbon offsetting program to take the extra greenhouse gasses out of the world.
Related industry standards
There are many sustainability standards that outline what requirements you must meet for your business to truly be sustainable. One way to make sticking to said standards easier is by creating an environmental management system (EMS), which helps companies commit to reducing their environmental impact while keeping profits in mind.
The ISO 14064-1 standard is a specification for the quantifying of emissions and removals, and helps to ensure that an organization’s carbon footprint calculation is accurate, thorough and developed in accordance with the relevant methodology.
The PAS 2060 is the standard for carbon neutrality, which keeps businesses accountable for their carbon footprint. It verifies the accuracy of carbon neutral claims made by companies and ensures they're reaching their milestones ethically. It details four stages to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint — measurement, reduction, offsetting and documentation.
The ISO 14001 specifies how to formulate and maintain your company’s EMS. This standard helps your business reduce and control your environmental impacts and stay compliant with ever-changing legislation. The ISO 14001 certification offers benefits to businesses in virtually any industry or sector and provides sustainable implementation instructions.
Get started with NQA today
When you add sustainability certifications and verifications to your already busy workload, it can be easy to miss a vital piece of compliance. NQA, which has successfully issued over 50,000 certificates to clients in over 90 countries, can provide you with accredited assistance for meeting environmental standards.
For more information about how we can help make your company more sustainable, please contact us online today!