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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a phrase you often hear in business meetings these days - but is there a positive relationship between customer engagement and sustainability?

SMEs can be guilty of assuming that CSR policies are just an annoyance and will have no tangible effect on their business. However, research by the Reputation Institute, cited in Forbes, revealed that your desire to buy, refer, work for, and invest in a company is 60% motivated by consumer perceptions reputation, including whether the business is carbon neutral and only 40% by the perception of the products or services themselves.

Consumers are becoming increasingly eco-conscious – in 2018, the value of green home product sales, such as sustainable timber and renewable energy installations, was £10.2 billion, according to the 2019 Ethical Consumer Report.

The average household now spends £1,278 every year on ethical products and services, and that figure is rising each year. The Natural Marketing Institute has found that people are 58% more likely to choose a business when the organisation is reducing its carbon footprint. Their research discovered that customers will pay up to 20% more for environmentally sound products and services. It should come as no surprise then to learn that a carbon neutral business is one of the top priorities for consumers.

How Do you Become a Green Business?

A ‘green business’ is a company striving to have a minimal environmental impact, working to adopt sustainable solutions and making a conscious decision to reduce business carbon footprint by being more energy-efficient.

But where do you start?

How to Audit Business Energy

Being a green business doesn’t mean you have to sit in the dark all day. The first step is to conduct a business energy audit.

Any company that wants to reduce business gas and electricity consumption needs to know exactly how, where and when the bulk of energy in their company gets used. You can hire a company to do it or do one yourself.

If you’re looking to cut your energy costs quickly, there are some easy steps you can take straight away to reduce your usage, such as turning computers off at the end of the day, switching lights off when areas are not in use and switching your energy to a more suitable tariff. You can read more about how to do a full energy audit here.

An energy monitor can help you understand how much gas and electricity you are using so that you can reduce your carbon footprint.

Create an energy efficiency plan

Once you have the information from your audit, you can identify where your business can take steps to reduce the energy you use. This is highly individual depending on what type of SME you are. You can present your progress to customers via social media or through your website to promote the steps you are taking to become greener.

There are thousands of ways this can be done, Love Energy Savings has business energy efficiency resources available to help, but we have included some ideas below to get you started.

Engage your team

Inspire green activity to flourish in your business by creating a “green team” to act as eco ambassadors for your company and help to manage your energy efficiency plan. Your team can also help you to review your business processes so you can further reduce your carbon footprint - or even keep an eye out for local and national environment projects that you can get involved in.

There are initiatives that can benefit both business productivity and engage your workforce. For example, encouraging your team to walk or cycle to work will have them rolling into work ready to go, and will further engage the team in committing to becoming more environmentally friendly. 

For many businesses, electricity and gas costs make up a significant part of business running costs and your company’s carbon footprint. Your team could help lead initiatives like a switch to a cheaper business energy contract. Switching can not only increase your profits but even lower your emission if you opt for a renewable energy supplier.

Upgrade appliances

Replacing devices and appliances around your workplace can make a huge difference in your energy consumption. For example, replace old hand driers in your bathrooms with modern energy-efficient machines. The high concentration of air produced from these driers works much faster than older models, reducing the time taken and energy used to dry hands.

Switch to energy-efficient lighting

Switching your light bulbs from traditional bulbs to either Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) or Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) can significantly reduce the amount of light energy used. Although more expensive to buy initially, LEDs are more energy-efficient than CFLs and will save you more money in the long term.

Save paper, save money

Offices in the UK throw away thousands of tonnes of paper every year. Think before you print or be even more energy-efficient and promote paperless activity. Email documents instead of printing them out and opt for ceramic cups instead of paper ones. If you must use paper, then make sure you recycle it after use.

Improve insulation

Better business energy efficiency can be easily achieved by improving the insulation in your workspace. If you rent a commercial space, this may be the responsibility of your landlord and may be worth discussing, it could also help them to improve the property’s Energy Performance Certificate rating.

Improving insulation will help you to drastically reduce your business energy bills. Heating costs usually account for the majority of business energy costs. By improving insulation, you reduce the amount of energy required to heat your premises.

Will your business profit from being more energy efficient?

While being energy efficient can have a positive impact on the bottom-line, it also has the power to build a positive public image of the firm. 49% of consumers prefer to actively buy from responsible brands, according to CSR international. So, if you are a green business, or you’re actively bringing in initiatives to reduce your businesses carbon footprint, use it in your marketing messages.  

Adopting a ‘greener’ approach can ensure that you are not left behind by your competitors. HSBC’s Made for the Future report states that just under half of UK companies plan to increase their environmentally friendly spending before 2021. Getting involved with local sustainability projects is a good way to improve community engagement and showcase your values. You can supplement this by promoting your green image across social media channels, and you may even gain coverage in the local media.

If you want to learn more about energy efficiency in the workplace, why not check out our top tips in the Love Energy Savings Help Centre?

Being more energy-efficient can benefit your enterprise in several different ways. Prioritise making sure that you’re not paying too much for the energy that you use in the workplace.

If you want to switch to a greener energy supplier or simply want to compare prices to find a cheaper tariff, simply complete our quick energy comparison engine.