Regional help for small businesses

A survey conducted amongst members of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) demonstrates small firms’ growing awareness of environmental initiatives and  how they can generate cost savings. The research shows that more than half (57%) have changed the way the business operates because of concerns about climate change, 47%  have recycled waste, 32% have reduced energy use and 24% bought energy-efficient appliances.

But despite this, the FSB said there is insufficient advice for small firms to help them understand the role they can play in the transition to a low-carbon economy and calls on the Government to provide systems and support to help them.

Alongside help provide by The Carbon Trust and Energy Savings Trust there are a number of regional programmes doing just this already, including Go Green Plus, which provides 12 hours free support to small businesses in the south London area. Go Green Plus, run by southlondon.biz, is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund,  and offers environmental advice to firms in Kingston, Lambeth, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth.

The advice spans across energy efficiency, water reduction measures, waste and recycling and travel plans and recent work has included helping a Wimbledon hotel apply for a Carbon Trust loan to install a new boiler, implementing energy efficiency measures for a Balham shop and developing a staff travel plan which will include the installation of cycle racks outside the business in Kingston.

One business Go Green Plus advisers have worked with found its energy consumption reduced by 35%, generating financial savings of £900 for the quarter by implementing energy efficiency measures. No mean feat in the current climate. Measures included replacing halogen bulbs with LEDs, introducing a switch off policy at night and installing occupancy sensors in areas infrequently used, such as toilets and storage areas.

Businesses have found the environmental knowledge and experience of the green advisers invaluable and the scheme has enabled owners to get on with the day-to-day running of the business while implementing green plans that their customers and staff expect them to do.

As a result businesses are saving money and improving their image by implementing environmental measures expected of them. Win-win all round.

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