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Planning a greener path to business recovery after COVID-19


Harrison Drury’s Chloe Harrison, has collaborated with Becky Toal, director at Lancashire-based sustainability consultancy firm, Crowberry Consulting, to provide guidance for businesses looking to opt for a greener business strategy after the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the past six months, the coronavirus pandemic has forced the closure of many businesses and has forced many more to restructure and rethink their operational and business processes. But planning the road to recovery also offers an opportunity for businesses to adopt a more sustainable approach to business management, to facilitate safer working practices, maximise profits and meet future challenges and obligations.

This has created an ideal opportunity to reconsider environmental policies and for business owners to put themselves in an optimal position ahead of impending changes brought in by the Environment Bill 2020.

However, when looking to review strategies, business owners may be unaware of what a ‘green recovery’ entails.

What can your business do to accommodate a green recovery?

Whilst acknowledging that every organisation is different, there are some initial steps which every business can look at before considering more specific measures appropriate to their needs and daily operations.

As specialists in the delivery, training and auditing of sustainability and ISO systems, Crowberry Consulting recommends using the following considerations as a starting point when looking to opt for a greener strategy:

  • What are your current policies and processes to determine where you can embed more sustainable thinking? This could include closing the loop on waste streams and upcycling, as well as becoming more energy efficient in the office or factory areas.
  • What you currently do, and what more you could do, to reduce your carbon footprint? This may be as simple as installing PIR motion sensors for lights in areas where staff don’t tend to frequently go, or incorporating a sustainability ‘toolbox talk’ for all factory operators.
  • Now is the time to review your energy sources. Can your business invest in renewable technologies and provide cleaner, greener sources of energy?
  • Review heating, ventilation and air conditioning capabilities. As global temperatures rise and the demand for cooling of buildings grows, businesses are encouraged to review their HVAC systems. This not only saves money but ensures a greater efficiency to provide effective systems in the future.

In light of the financial impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had on businesses, the big question for many businesses looking to turn to a greener recovery may be “how can I pay for this?”.

In Lancashire, there are several grants and fully funded support available to eligible small to medium enterprises looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

These include the UCLAN Making Carbon Work project which provides an energy audit and options to reduce carbon emissions along with grants for renewable technology and the installation of LED lighting. Further information is available online and Lancashire-based SMEs are encouraged to check if they eligible.

The Chamber Low Carbon Programme is also available for Lancashire-based businesses and provides a grant for the installation of energy saving measures like heat pumps, solar thermal technology and voltage optimisation.

What are the current incentives to do become a greener business?

UK businesses are affected by ‘Net Zero’, a commitment to move to a net zero emissions economy by 2050, and many are on track to achieve this. However, businesses that fail to have a mitigation plan in place or to make any significant progress over the next five years, are likely to be left behind.

It is becoming increasingly important to consumers that businesses look to review the impact they have on climate change. Approximately 70 per cent of consumers prefer to buy sustainable products, with industries are already seeing the impact of the ‘climate-conscious consumer’.

There is also considerable cost savings attached to using more efficient energy streams and technology. A greener recovery would be a ‘win-win’ for businesses as it demonstrates both wider social responsibility to a growing ‘greener-conscious’ consumer market and provides a sustainable business model to support the business future for years to come.

For businesses that deal with international companies or transactions, there is also a growing importance attached to achieving certain compliance standards which some small to medium-sized businesses may not realise they need.

These International Standards (such as ISO 50001 and ISO 14001) are used to embed sustainability and environmental protection within corporate processes and are used to maintain relations from procurement right up to distribution.

What business regulations do you currently need to be aware of?

Despite initial concerns over what a ‘hard Brexit’ might entail, it appears that the UK Government is still committed to achieving its climate targets set out under the Paris Climate Agreement and further EU directives.

Businesses should also be aware of the Environment Bill 2020, which will bring in a far-reaching framework and lead to the creation of a new Environmental Regulator – The Office for Environmental Protection. Its statutory duties will include monitoring and reporting on environmental improvement plans and the implementation and enforcement of environmental regulation through public authorities.

Some industries are specifically regulated with specific guidance available online. Further guidance by sector may also be covered on the government’s website or, possibly, from relevant trade associations.

Crowberry Consulting in partnership with built environment specialists Arup, were recently appointed as the UK Government’s sustainability consultants to help deliver the 26th UN Climate Change Conference in 2021. The firm shares Harrison Drury’s professional values, echoing our philosophy to support local businesses and works alongside our team to deliver tailored and commercially focussed advice.

If you are seeking to adopt a greener recovery for your business, or need advice in relation to environmental regulations or standards, please contact Harrison Drury’s environment, energy and utilities team on 01772 258321.

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