SBS21: Questioning your current practices for environmental progress

South City and Colleges Birmingham

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham and Coventry and Warwickshire Chambers of Commerce as part of the 2021 Sustainable Business Series: Net Zero campaign.

The Sustainable Business Series: Net Zero is the Chamber’s first campaign on environmental sustainability, which aims to share best practice, guidance and knowledge to increase business progress to net zero. In 2021, this involves 5 free online webinars taking place from the end of September and throughout October along with publishing thought leadership podcasts, videos and blog content. The campaign will feature a Sustainability Summit on 3rd November

Thanks to our Headline Sponsors – Aston University, Arup, Morgan Sindall and the University of Birmingham - all webinars and the Summit are free to attend. Interested parties can find out more about eh Sustainable Business Series: Net Zero here.

There is a great scope for SME’s to support our national and global effort to reduce our carbon footprint and slow down climate change. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and by implementing some simple changes can ensure their business is fit for the future.

The following section gives a set of quick questions to ask yourself and your business in order to prompt reflective thinking over your current practices.

  1. Energy Efficiency and Reducing emissions

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do we avoid using unnecessary amounts of energy?
  • Do we remind employees to turn lights, and equipment off?
  • Are equipment switched completely off over the weekends and holiday periods?
  • Do we monitor meter readings?


Most businesses can achieve meaningful cost savings through reducing their energy consumption. Even low and no-cost actions can usually reduce energy costs by at least 10% and produce quick returns, enhancing profitability.

By switching computers off at nights and weekends, rather than leaving them running, their energy consumption can be reduced by 75% per year. Equipment lifespan will also be extended and maintenance costs and risk of breakdown should be reduced. 

  1. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Have we looked at the Carbon Trust’s advice for cutting emissions and costs for small businesses?
  • Have we replaced lights with LEDs?
  • Do we have opening up and closing down procedures to turn off equipment?
  • Do we turn off technology on standby?

Top tip:

  • Check out the Carbon Trusts guidance. They have the following guide books: Better Business Guide, Effective Energy Management, Energy Procurement and Green Tariffs, Green Events Guide, Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning and Guidance for Office Based Companies.
  1. Sustainable Transport

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are we encouraging staff to take sustainable transport?
  • Do we incentivise lift-shares? Or cycling to work?
  1. Sourcing and procurement

Sourcing our needs for food or other items from ethical and local sources is really important. Local produce helps the local economy and also reduces transportation time, in turn reducing emissions associated with driving long distances.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Where are we getting our products from? Are they from local sources? Are they ethically and sustainably produced?
  1. Monitor heating

Heating typically accounts for between 20-40% of the energy used in non-domestic buildings. Heating should be considered a key target area when considering energy saving measures, due to the availability and ease of efficient options.

Overheating can occur in areas that do not need to be heated such as corridors and storage areas, as well as overheating occupied areas. We can prevent heat loss through improving insulation and draught control.

  • Does heating come on only when needed?
  • Do we encourage employees to dress appropriately for season and minimise use of electric heaters?
  1. Seek sustainability advice through the Business Elevator Project

Want more support? South and City College Birmingham have partnered with Solihull College and BMet to support small to medium sized local employers and micro businesses through an ESF funded project – The Business Elevator. Through this service SME’s can access:

  • Training services
  • Apprenticeship and recruitment services
  • Business mentoring
  • Networking opportunities
  • Work experience or placements
  • Other support services

Additionally our Sustainability Officers can offer advice and consultation on sustainability challenges and give best-practice advice.

For further information about the Business Elevator Project, please contact Tonia on 07557 014 314 or