Green credentials grow in importance

Businesses are now expected to demonstrate they are environmentally friendly. Fortunately, licensees have options

Green energy has become increasingly important for businesses of all shapes and sizes

By Jamie Newall

GREEN credentials are now in the business mainstream and it is of primary importance for SMEs as well as large corporations to demonstrate that they are continually becoming more sustainable. Failure to do so cedes the field to the competition.

It is not simply a case of ticking the corporate social responsibility boxes; genuine environmental credentials are now a prerequisite in the tendering process and part of the showcase that companies present to potential clients.

Energy and utilities are among the most rewarding avenues to explore in terms of more efficient and planet-friendly usage, but while physical resources such as wind and solar make a huge contribution, they are not appropriate for many businesses.

In great numbers of buildings in commercial use, there is not scope for physical energy generation – but it is still important for these companies to show they are embracing green technologies.

In these cases, all options must be explored. And, contractually, energy can be sourced from green generation  without actually having the generating capacity on-site.

So business thinking can shift away from considerations about solar panels, capital outlays and up-front costs.

The margin between brown and green energy has reduced.

Companies can go green by acquiring energy from environmentally sustainable providers.

Suppliers are obliged by renewables targets to offer significant amounts of green energy and specialists can monitor the market and pinpoint when supplies are likely to be at their cheapest, bringing the cost differential right down.

The margin between brown energy and green energy has reduced in the last 12 months to a point where the difference is only around 0.2 pence per kWh on average.

Companies should also factor in that accessing green supplies can remove the Climate Change Levy charge from the bill.

Striving to go green doesn’t stop at procurement.

There are many steps that can reduce carbon footprint as well as the bill. Smart companies are monitoring consumption and using the information to reduce their usage.

Installing a smart meter and working with experts can also save a lot of money.

In companies which have the physical capability – roof space for panels, for instance, or open space for turbines – the next logical step is to generate their own energy. Technologies are moving fast and solutions that were once restricted to businesses with deep pockets are far more readily available.

There is now a huge array of green technologies, including biomass, combined heat and power and heat pumps.

With the cost of battery storage dropping year on year, there will be increased scope for businesses to go off grid in the next decade.

These technologies do require an initial investment, which can vary greatly depending on the solution, but payback periods can also be very appealing.

The assumption that the primary concern of business is cash is changing. Modern consumers and clients expect companies to robustly demonstrate qualities that show they believe it is important to protect the natural environment.

The new reality is that if it makes environmental sense, it makes business sense.

The time to act is now.

• Jamie Newall is managing director of utilities management company Eyebright.