1. Improve environmental monitoring
Before companies start to make any plans to reduce carbon emissions, they must know their baseline and the potential impact of any proposed initiatives so they can concentrate resources in the areas that will achieve the biggest gains. This was pivotal for us at VINCI Energies when establishing a realistic roadmap with manageable interim targets to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. VINCI Energies Business Unit Cougar Automation is currently helping other businesses improve their environmental monitoring through its Smart concept. The system can measure room temperature, energy and water consumption, whether EV charging points are engaged, and which meeting rooms or hot desks are in use – all displayed through a live portal. The applications are limitless.
2. Switch to green energy and reduce consumption
At VINCI Energies UK & RoI, we found that we could immediately achieve an 8% reduction in carbon footprint at our offices where we pay the energy bills simply by switching to green energy tariffs (where some or all of the energy comes from renewable sources). Green energy tariffs can be slightly more expensive than standard ones but for us the cost difference per year was negligible. Where the energy bills are paid by our landlords, we found we could achieve an 11% reduction by encouraging them to make the switch on our behalf. We also look to save energy, reduce the impact of our supply chain, partner with NGOs, and cut down on business travel wherever we can.
3. Promote electric vehicles
In the UK, EVs typically generate around 30% less carbon dioxide than their diesel counterparts. In countries such as Sweden, where electricity is mostly produced from renewable sources, this figure can reach as high as 70%. Upgrading a company fleet or incentivising employees to swap their diesel for electric cars will, therefore, make a big difference to carbon footprint. It is also worth it from a financial perspective. The UK government is currently offering several tax breaks to people who buy an EV to get to work as well as to companies that introduce workplace charging. VINCI Energies business Actemium can help guide businesses through the process with suitability studies, charging point installing, new grid connections or energy storage devices.
4. Educate employees
Companies will never achieve targets to reduce carbon emissions without buy-in from employees. Staff need to understand what greener options are available to them, how they can get involved, how they will benefit personally, and the difference they will make to the overall goal. Giving staff ownership of environmental initiatives or encouraging them to take accountability for their choices will also help bring about positive change within the company. In our experience at VINCI Energies, employees always respond well to empowerment and trust.
5. Examine supply chain
It is not just direct carbon emissions that companies need to think about. Responsible businesses also consider the impact of their supply chains – choosing sustainable partners or, where choice is limited, putting pressure on suppliers to change. Are all materials ethically sourced? Are they recycled? How much packaging do they come in? How far have they been shipped? These are all questions companies should ask. Sometimes the more sustainable option (e.g. green concrete) might cost more but is worth it for the sake of the environment. Companies should include these options in their offers to clients and seek to educate them on the benefits too.