The journey to a net zero UK economy by 2050 has begun. Now that may seem like a long way into the future, but action is being taken now by investors, government agencies and major investors to start the transition now.
The acronym ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance), whose over-arching goal is to support sustainability and its implications, is already resonating across the UK’s largest car retailers. Its importance can be expected to impact the entire industry.
If this sounds like a ‘stick’, the ‘carrot’ is also available. Sustainability practices can help to:
- Reduce the cost of energy, water, waste and transport
- Work more efficiently – doing more with less
- Improve profits through real bottom-line savings
- Protect your business from risks (including financial, reputational and compliance risks) through improved planning and preparedness
- Improve your business profile with customers, suppliers and stakeholders
Now, if that all sounds ambitious, then it shouldn’t. When under pressure, motor retailers have long demonstrated a capacity to identify cost savings without negatively impacting their businesses. A similar cost/value assessment can be valid for the shift to carbon neutrality and sustainability.
The starting point to embrace carbon neutrality is to identify your existing carbon footprint and there are plenty of resources to help including free resources such as https://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx.
Understanding your carbon footprint can also help to save money now and in the longer term. For example, reducing utility consumption is good for the environment and your bottom line. Areas of opportunity available now might include:
- Lights (which can make up to 40% of utility bills): switch to LED lighting and consider getting motion sensors inside and outside to turn on lights only when needed. Or use light sensors that help you make the most of free natural light.
- Turn down the heat: 1°C of overheating can increase energy costs by up to 8%, and using air conditioning all day in the summer can add up to around 30% of your energy bill. So use them both sparingly.
- Turn things off when not in use and close doors: encourage colleagues to turn off their computers instead of using standby mode. Unplug any device when it is not needed and ensure doors, notably those in the service area, are opened on a controlled basis to avoid heat loss.
- Assess equipment efficiency from boilers to air compressors: newer ones could be far more cost-effective.
Going the extra mile, steps might include:
- Fitting solar panels, notably photovoltaic (PV) panels, can reduce bills and provide a good return on investment.
- Installing battery storage to store energy for when it’s needed.
- Looking to recycle water, especially in any car wash areas
Going the whole way
Going carbon neutral is achievable, and the steps above can form part of the journey to gaining PAS 2060 – the only recognised international standard for carbon neutrality. In order to achieve the certification, the Carbon Trust details that a company must:
- Measure their carbon footprint
- Develop a qualifying explanatory statement (QES) including; a statement of commitment, a timescale for achievement, a carbon management plan and targets for greenhouse gas reductions and a credible plan backed by investment to achieve ongoing emissions reductions to reduce reliance on offsets over time
- Purchase high-quality offsets such as Gold Standard, VCS and Woodland Code UK to compensate for all remaining emissions.
Go on and start your journey today.
Debbie McKay, Commercial Director of Motor Sales