06 February 2013

Boosting growth by going green

Businesses are being urged to prioritise green energy if they want to grow in a speech by David Cameron.

Green office space was propelled back into the limelight this week (February 4th), as David Cameron valiantly announced that “to those who say we just can’t afford to prioritise green energy right now, my view is we can’t afford not to”.

His message comes after sceptics of the prime minister’s commitment to the environment became increasingly vocal, with the chief executive of WWF UK, David Nussbaum, lashing out at Cameron in November that a lack of action would be a “betrayal not just of election promises, but of the UK national interest”.

It was a speech of Hollywood proportions, and that was indeed the reception he got after Arnold Schwarzenegger praised the PM and climate change minister Greg Barker for their commitment to green businesses. In a pre-recorded message, he reminded everyone that centre right politicians can win elections with an unashamedly pro-green agenda. This is because going green has been given an economical value which appeals to the electorate more than the simple guilt-trip methods of old.

Going green can boost growth

Rhian Kelly, the Confederation of British Industry’s director for business environment policy, said: “Businesses know that going green can boost growth. Our research shows that supporting the UK’s low-carbon economy with the right policies could potentially add £20 billion to GDP by 2015.

“Britain must maximise these opportunities to become the leading destination for low-carbon investment and strengthen our exports of green goods and services to the rest of the world.”

Business leaders can have the best intentions to go green, but often lack the know-how when it comes to transferring these sentiments into actionable policies. The truth is that going green often requires a mindset shift in the office, rather than just a policy one, which means that in order to set the green train in motion, everyone has to be aboard.

Tips for going green

Start with reviewing the basic functions in the office space.

In general, there are four types of lighting used in the office – traditional incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps, energy-saving incandescent bulbs and light emitting diodes. Recent studies have shown that:

  • energy efficient bulbs use 25% less energy
  • CFLs use 75% less energy
  • LEDs, the result leader, conserve 75 – 80% energy usage, lasting a huge 25,000 hours

Turning off equipment when not in use
Simple tasks such as turning electrical equipment off can also help to reduce energy costs, with computers particularly vital in this regard. The amount of energy saved by leaving computers shut down for the night more than compensates for the small amount of energy required to turn computers on and off, so get proactive and start powering down.

Reducing waste and recycling
Waste materials can have a significant sway on how environmentally friendly your business is, so ensure that you are using biodegradable products and are recycling across the business. Another way to save the business money as well as clean up its environmental record is to go paperless, which has become increasingly achievable with the introduction of web-based functions such as email and cloud computing.

How committed are you?

It’s beyond doubt that staying green in the workplace has become a high priority for most people, but the extent of commitment certainly varies across the board. Usually it is left up to an office representative to implement green policies, but it is not uncommon for businesses to get wholeheartedly involved.

One Canadian company, Dubbeldam Architecture and Design, recently unveiled a pop-up office at the ‘How do you Work’ exhibit at Toronto’s Interior Design Show. The eco-friendly office space has been built using recycled shipping pallets and can be custom built to requirements. This means that as well as catering for a variety of business needs, the solution has been tipped to help out at festivals or for disaster relief situations as well.