Environmental issues are finally high on the agenda of large corporations, given the pressure from regulators and customers who want to see green credentials. Recent documentaries covering the impact of plastics have further heightened all concerns for the planet, including energy usage.
Small and medium-sized businesses, however, have so far lagged somewhat in this area, in part owing to time and financial constraints. Nevertheless, this is changing as they increasingly recognise the opportunity to run greener operations to save money and win loyal customers.
Research by the environmental reporting charity CDP shows that businesses actively improving their climatic impact secure an 18 per cent higher return on investment in this area than firms that react late. This is in part due to securing loyal customers and cutting costs.
“We see a major change in the outlook of small and medium-sized businesses, driven by the views of their customers,” says Randall Bowen, sales and commercial director at clean energy supplier Good Energy. Among millennials alone, some 72 per cent are prepared to pay more for goods that are environmentally and socially responsible, according to researchers at Nielsen, and numerous corporations insist on green credentials from their suppliers.
Achieving sustainability is easier than ever before, thanks to new technology, trends and strategies. Simple changes such as installing LED lights can vastly cut energy usage, reducing lighting costs by more than half, and smart meters can also help by encouraging lower energy use. Further down the line, more efficient boilers and insulation, and better cooling, can make a significant difference too.
Energy supply plays an equally important role. Businesses can choose truly green energy from renewable sources. Good Energy not only owns its own wind and solar farms, but also buys its energy from more than 1,400 local generators, comprising 57 per cent wind, 20 per cent biogeneration, 18 per cent solar and 5 per cent hydro. Its gas is fully carbon offset and increasingly composed of bio methane.
But across the broader energy market, the sources of power are less transparent, and customers must buy carefully, says Dr Bowen. “There’s a lot of greenwash out there, with energy suppliers simply buying green credits on the market and applying them to brown, non-renewable energy. It is legal but unethical, misleading customers who want environmentally friendly sources.”
Good Energy, which serves 250,000 customers with renewable power, helps companies succeed with clean electricity and carbon-offset gas
When businesses do buy the right energy, it is important to be able to demonstrate this to customers. Good Energy provides certificates to businesses using its renewable power, enabling them to display in store or on the internet that they have strong green energy credentials. “Being able to show this is essential to consumer sales and it’s equally important for business clients, many of which insist on an environmentally friendly supply chain,” Dr Bowen adds.
Good Energy already helps organisations install their own solar panels and it now installs battery storage, so firms only need take a limited amount of energy from the grid. Its work with educational charity the Eden Project, in Cornwall, enables the organisation to capture and store solar energy to be used when needed.
As businesses make their energy sources renewable, they are able to please customers, improve the bottom line, report a lower carbon footprint, create their own sustainable supply chains and have true flexibility on supply by storing some of their own power. Good Energy, which serves 250,000 customers with renewable power, helps companies succeed with clean electricity and carbon-offset gas.
To find out how to maximise profitability and customer loyalty by using clean energy please visit goodenergy.co.uk