Assessment for newbies
First up, let’s see what sort of shape you’re in by using the Climate Action Toolbox. It’s a free, easy-to-use online tool that shows you how to measure and reduce your emissions. It’s aimed at smaller businesses but it’s also useful if you’re a larger business doing a few stretches before starting the full workout.
Based on a simple self-assessment, the Toolbox identifies priority action areas and provides tailored advice and support that includes:
- Step-by-step guides for reducing emissions, including quick wins to get started
- A personalised action plan that you can use to guide and track your progress
- Links to useful tools, resources and information
- Inspirational stories about businesses already taking climate action
- Sector-specific guidance for construction businesses, plus more to come
Want to step it up a level? Use the Toolbox to calculate your emissions and get even more tailored advice along with a reduction target. You can even track your progress.
That was the warm-up. Now it’s time to get serious. Here are three key areas where your business can cut emissions and waste.
1. Use renewable energy efficiently
Understand your energy use. This one is a no-brainer. Start by working out which parts of your business use the most energy and make a plan on how you can cut back. Typical areas include heating and cooling, lighting, transport, and equipment and machinery.
Switch to renewables. Check out renewable electricity suppliers like ecotricity and/or consider installing solar panels. If you use fuels like coal or gas, explore alternatives. Aotearoa New Zealand has abundant renewable resources – and we need to electrify pretty much everything!
Improve energy efficiency. This is a double win for your budget and the planet. Optimise air conditioning and heating systems, and implement power-saving practices like turning off equipment when it’s not used. Sensors and timers are also good options. When it’s time to replace, upgrade to energy-efficient appliances and lighting. Organisations like EECA have great resources to help you.
2. Reduce your transport emissions
Reduce car use and encourage sustainable commuting. Offer flexible work arrangements and support cycling, walking, public transport and carpooling. Being active on the way to work is cheap, healthy and fun - and carpooling can be the start of more work friendships. The Aotearoa Bike Challenge is coming up in February and the new Love to Ride app makes it easy to log your rides and track your stats. Along with the summer weather, now is a great time to try biking to work. Use the Circular Economy Directory to find more low carbon transport options.
Optimise fleet operations. Maintain vehicles regularly, encourage efficient driving habits, prioritise fuel-efficient models and explore electric vehicles. Consider alternatives to owning or leasing vehicles and try car-sharing services like Zilch.
Reduce business travel: Use video conferencing and virtual meetings when possible. If a work trip is essential, look for alternatives to flying, and try to combine several meetings into one trip to make the most of the journey.
3. Go circular with your resource use
Procurement. Choose suppliers walking the talk when it comes to environmental practices and prioritising locally sourced products. SBN has two free online resources to help. Use our Circular Economy Directory to find businesses that can help reduce your waste and improve the use of resources. Use Docket to review the sustainability of your business and your suppliers.
Design out waste. Review operations to make sure your resources are being used as efficiently as possible. Reduce packaging and source sustainable materials. Implement recycling and composting programmes. Encourage suppliers to set up take-back schemes for their products when they are no longer of use. Download our free guides for more help.
Reduce paper consumption. Digitise documents and use cloud storage. If you have to use paper, encourage double-sided printing.
Great start. Keep going.
Remember, every step counts! And lots of these changes can also save you money, support staff wellbeing and attract more customers. Involve your staff in the process. Their support is vital as you get your business in shape and make it more sustainable.
More tools and resources
Learn more about SBN’s free tools and resources to regenerate nature, act on climate and design out waste.
Gen Less provides tips, tools and support for businesses to reduce emissions.
EECA offers energy efficiency programmes, incentives and financial assistance.
Toitū te Whenua supports businesses with sustainability initiatives, waste management and environmental certifications.
Ministry for the Environment provides information and resources on climate change and emissions reduction strategies.
Centre for Sustainable Finance | Toitū Tahua provides examples of sustainable finance in Aotearoa New Zealand, as provided by major banks and capital providers.