Are you comfortable with your company’s carbon footprint?

Author: Rob Ormiston 
cloud accounting

Many people and companies will have posted about Earth Day today. As a relatively new company, taking on premises, building a team and fresh new ways of working, our carbon footprint and impact on the environment has been at the forefront of my thinking since the outset.

Every business owner has choices that will impact the environment to some degree. I wanted to make informed choices, actively reducing Northern Tonic’s carbon footprint and work towards becoming carbon zero. It’s clear that it does take research and baby steps along the way to reach this challenging goal. Being bold in your ambitions and setting smaller incremental targets is the only way to achieve real change. And of course, if we all adopted small changes, we could have a pretty significant impact.

The difference between carbon neutral and carbon zero 

First off, if any of you are doing either of these things it’s great news, and certainly better than doing nothing at all. A carbon neutral approach aims to offset all the carbon you produce with initiatives that will counter this. For eg. If I make two long haul plane trips, and then plant 40 trees, I have in effect offset the carbon that my journey has created. My challenge with this thinking is that it does very little to change harmful behaviours and believe that it is better to look at minimising our carbon, harmful gases and waste we produce as a company overall.

Learning and action taken so far….

With any project like this, I would recommend looking for the low-hanging fruit. Where are the easy places to start?

The pandemic over the last year has transformed how businesses view flexible working. They have had to organise and provide the technology and equipment that enable employees to work from home. We have seen multiple benefits from this.

A survey by Moneybarn, pre-pandemic found that the average commute time in the UK was upt to 62 minutes a day. That works out at over 5 hours a week employees can invest into personal pursuits, hobbies or family time if they switch to working from home.

In addition to offering a better work/life balance, this reduction in travel also significantly reduces the carbon footprint that running your company generates.

  1. Travel

As the country starts to ‘open up’ again, we are encouraging a mix of home-working and office or client based time to support staff wellbeing and to keep carbon emissions low. We are confident that we have the tools and technology to maintain the ’Northern Tonic’ supportive experience for clients.  We hope that other businesses reflect on the last year in this way and would be happy to advise on technology and infrastructure if you are still grappling with this.

  1. Managing office carbon outputs and waste

Bringing teams together, meeting clients face to face, having a ‘home’ and a base is still important to us. Our offices are in Wetherby, Yorkshire and we have taken a look at how we can lessen our impact on the environment whilst maintaining a presence here.

  • Lighting
    • We replaced all the lighting in the office with Novalux LED lighting. LED lighting uses around 30% of the power of the equivalent fluorescent tube. An average installation of LED lights in an office can save up to 30-50 metric tonnes of CO2 each year. It also significantly reduces electricity bills
    • Worth noting that Installations of energy efficient LED lighting are encouraged by the Government via the Enhanced Capital Allowances scheme (ECA). This allows companies to offset the cost of the LED installation against Corporation Tax, effectively saving companies up to 28% of the installation cost in the first year of usage.
  • Water 
    • We worked with Novaloo to replace all our toilets in the office to water efficient ones
    • In the average UK business, toilets account for between 50%-60% of all the water used. Each flush uses an average of 9L of water. The novaloo toilet reduces water usage to just 1.5L per flush.
  • Cloud-based technology
    • I have touched on technology throughout this post and its role in enabling a flexible, productive and happy workforce. It also significantly reduces paper and printing needs. Anything you receive can remain in the cloud; safe, secure, filed away and readily accessible. We are experts in this area and by making cloud-based technology a focus, we are able to achieve outstanding results for clients, and reduce paper and energy wastage associated with printing and shredding.

As I reflect on Earth Day 2021, I think one thing the pandemic has brought us, is a new found, or rekindled love for nature and the outdoors.  The green spaces on our doorsteps during lockdown became life-lines for many.

I urge all business owners to go through the process of examining the carbon footprint of their company and address their own role in protecting and preserving the environment. We at Northern Tonic clearly have a long way to go in reaching our goal and I would appreciate any learnings from other businesses embarking on a similar journey. What areas are you exploring? What have you learned or discovered?

Rob Ormiston, Founder & Director.

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