Reducing your Lancashire SME’s carbon footprint with MaCaW may lead to a matched grant for new, efficient equipment. But improvements can start by taking steps that require no capital investment at all.

There’s a temptation to think that carbon reduction can’t happen without installing some clever piece of technology – a biomass boiler, solar panels or the latest energy-sipping HVAC (heat, ventilation and air conditioning) system. But the reality is that equipment is only half of the equation. For every LED bulb that could play its part in lowering your company’s energy use, there’s a person who could play just a great a part by switching the thing off when not in use.

Behaviour matters. A company is made of people and people have habits, not all of which are supporting your efforts to reduce energy. An energy efficient HVAC could use a fraction of the energy of the old system, but if it’s programmed to operate in a way that doesn’t align with your working practices it still won’t be as efficient as it could be.

Take a little time to see what’s actually happening within your business (as we do when we carry out a carbon audit) and you’ll probably notice that the heating’s on while half the building has the windows open. That monitors stay on when staff head for the lunch. Or that lights are left on in the building long after everyone has left for the evening.

As long as staff interact with systems, you’ll need to look at both to make real improvements in your carbon reduction.

Changing behaviour

There are lots of simple, no or low-cost steps you can take to nudge your people in the right direction. Here are some. Our carbon report will identify more, tailored to your business.

Set a target: You can’t expect to galvanise people towards a goal unless they know what the goal is. One simple way of doing that is with an energy policy. Keep it short because you want everyone to take a moment to read it. One page is fine to set out some basics about what you’re aiming to achieve. We don’t write the policies because it’s important they are owned by and come from the organisations that create them, but our carbon report will suggest some elements you might wish to include.

Take simple steps: Amongst the items that might appear in the policy are:

  • Ensuring lights are switched off when not in use.
  • Ensuring plug in heaters are switched off before windows are opened (so thermostats aren’t triggered by the drop in temperature).
  • Agreeing the temperature at which the heating and air conditioning come on. This is called ‘dead-banding’ and might, for example see you agree with staff that the heating comes on only when the temperature drops below 19°C and that the aircon only turns on once the temperature hits 24°C. The zone between 19°C and 24°C therefore becomes your dead band where no energy is used to heat or cool.

Get visual: Agreeing temperature bands is one thing, but we all know that any group of people will feel temperature differently, with some wanting the windows open while others shiver in what feels to them like sub-zero conditions. Putting a thermometer on the wall ensures there’s an objective measure and less room for argument.

Engage staff: Improvements are easy to achieve when everyone feels invested in them. Involve the team in putting the energy policy together. Appoint staff champions to complete monthly walkarounds to maintain momentum and suggest improvements. Perhaps offer incentives for the staff suggestion that saves the most energy each quarter.

Measure: It’s easy to say you’ll aim for a 10% reduction in your energy consumption but unless you know the true state of your energy usage you’ll never know whether that figure is realistic or achievable. The MaCaW carbon report gives you the information to set a realistic target everyone can get behind.

Make progress a regular part of your business meetings, so energy efficiency becomes as ingrained a part of the business as any other metric.

Ensure you measure like with like to gain a realistic picture of progress. Comparing your energy use over summer with winter performance is likely to give you a false sense of achievement.

Regular measurement can produce broader benefits too. It could help you spot overbilling by your energy company. It could also help you identify an issue with a piece of machinery before it has chance to cause a wider problem.


Let a MaCaW carbon audit point you in the right direction

Changing behaviour doesn’t have to be difficult – but it does help to have a catalyst to help you build momentum.

Ask for your free audit now. It will help you understand the current state of your carbon footprint and give you a platform from which you can build a more energy efficient business. To get started contact us.

MaCaW (Making Carbon Work) is a University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) project, an industry and academic collaboration funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and supported by Boost, Lancashire’s business growth hub.

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