Your net zero plan

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Understand your business emissions

1) What causes emissions

Direct carbon emissions produced by businesses in the education sector:

  • energy use – electricity and gas for lighting, heating and office equipment
  • general waste – when it’s not recycled and ends up at landfill sites
  • travel – using petrol or diesel vehicles to get to work or deliver services

2) Calculate your emissions

Use a free carbon calculator to work out your business’s carbon footprint. This is measured in tonnes, over a year.

3) Estimate the cost of your emissions

Once you have your carbon footprint, you can calculate how much your emissions are costing you. This will give you an idea of potential savings you can make by taking action.

4) Sign up to the SME climate commitment

Make a climate declaration to show customers you are committed to reducing emissions.

Get finance and support

1) Support in your sector

The following organisations provide sustainability guidance within the education sector:

You can also learn how to run your business in a more environmentally friendly way by hiring a sustainability consultant.

2) Get financial support in your region 

These support schemes and networks are available in South West England:

  • Clean Growth UK (South West Hub) offers SMEs funding, coaching and grant application support
  • Climate Essentials for Business – Climate Essentials has partnered with Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council to offer free tools and support to help 80 businesses reduce their carbon footprint for a year. The programme includes access to a carbon calculator, personalised reduction plan and 1:1 support. It is aimed at SME businesses with up to 80 employees
  • Low Carbon Dorset gives SMEs with free technical advice for energy efficiency and renewable energy project ideas – must be located in the Dorset and BCP Council areas
  • Low Carbon Devon gives SMEs access to research, business support, free events and fully funded internships – must be located in the Devon area
  • Low Carbon Business Support (West of England Combined Authority) provide SMEs and SME charities with free expert advice and guidance as well as capital grants to take action to reduce carbon emissions and energy bills. Sign up for a free Carbon Survey and apply for a Green Business Grant of up to £15,000. Must be located in Bath & North-East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire
  • Prosper Business Support offers businesses in East Devon, Mid Devon and Exeter specialised support with an experienced business advisor and carbon auditing from a profession carbon accountant to measure the impact of your business, and provide tailored advice on how to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Somerset Rural Prosperity Grants – applications for the next round of funding begins on 1 April 2024
  • Somerset Green Business Grants are available to support Somerset micro and SME businesses – up to 250 employees – to take forward measures to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. The closing date for full applications is 31 October 2023.
  • West of England Green Business Grant gives SMEs up to £15,000 to improve energy efficiency and install solar panels – must be located in Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset or South Gloucestershire
  • UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) for Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council – the Economic Development team’s Investment Plan sets aside a budget of £2.5 million to support the local business economy in the following areas: start-up and growth, exporting, research and development and innovation, decarbonisation and improving the natural environment, town and district centres, development and promotion of the visitor economy

Actions you can take right now

1) Save energy at your workplace

Cut your bills by using less energy. Quick measures include:

  • lighting – use LED bulbs for greater efficiency
  • heating – put your thermostat on a timer and seal your windows for extra insulation
  • office equipment – try to turn off and unplug devices when they’re not being used

2) Do an energy walk-round

Walk around your building and see where energy is being used.

Prepare a checklist

Look out for wasteful energy use and maintenance issues in the following areas:

  1. Look at lighting, heating and refrigeration systems, as well as ventilation and water heating.
  2. Identify wasteful energy use and maintenance issues.
  3. Check at different times of day and compare day and night time use.
  4. Monitor over a period of a week for accurate average figures.
  5. Make sure equipment is checked and cleaned regularly to ensure maximum efficiency.

Improve ventilation

Routine maintenance checks and cleaning will improve the efficiency of your ventilation system.

3) Manage your waste

Recycle waste to prevent it being taken to landfill sites where it takes longer to break down and causes more emissions.

4) Get training in energy efficiency

You can train your team to be aware of energy efficiency in the workplace. Find a sustainability course.

5) Change your energy tariff

Switch to a green energy tariff with your energy supplier. This will reduce your reliance on energy produced by fossil fuels.

6) Switch to a smart meter

This will allow you to see and control how much energy you use. Find out how to switch to a smart meter.

Longer term actions

1) Make changes to your workplace

If you are the legal owner, there are a number of long-term measures you can take to improve energy efficiency.

Check planning permission guidelines before you go ahead with any structural changes to the property.

You can make long-term savings on energy bills by insulating buildings and replacing old windows.

Install renewables

You might also consider installing renewable sources of energy on your land.

For example:

By doing so, you could make significant long-term savings on energy bills.

2) Reduce transport emissions

Over a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions are caused by transport. You can take measures to reduce the impact.

If you have employees you could introduce a cycle-to-work initiative or encourage them to take public transport.

Visit our page on switching employee mode of transport for guidance.

Electric vehicles

If you use a work vehicle, you can reduce emissions by switching over to an electric vehicle (EV). You would be exempt from road tax, congestion charges and parking fees in certain areas.

For easy overnight charging you could install EV chargers at your home or workplace.

Indirect emissions

To reduce indirect or ‘supply chain’ emissions you need to consider what happens before and after your business provides a service or makes a product.

1) Choose greener ‘upstream’ suppliers and products

  • use suppliers that measure and reduce carbon
  • help your suppliers with carbon reduction projects
  • buy products that take less energy to make, transport and operate

Find out more information on how to source products and services from green suppliers.

2) Reduce emissions ‘downstream’ of your business

  1. make products that take less energy to make, transport and operate
  2. reduce water consumption and waste disposal needs
  3. make investments in lower carbon financial products
  4. give incentives for lower emission activities in leased assets or franchises

3) Certify your supply chain action with PAS 2060

PAS 2060 is the internationally recognised standard that recognises your efforts towards carbon neutrality.

The standard process for PAS 2060 certification includes these steps:

  1. Measure greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) based on accurate data.
  2. Reduce of emissions through a carbon management plan.
  3. Document and verify through qualifying explanatory statements and make a public disclosure.

Through independent British Standards Institution (BSI) verification for PAS 2060, your business can demonstrate that it has met these requirements. You can show your business is environmentally friendly and contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, while enhancing your organisation’s performance and resilience.

Search on Google for PAS 2060 certification organisations.

Share your progress

Sharing your progress will help employees and customers feel confident that you’re reducing carbon and moving towards net zero.

You should share your progress once you’ve done both of the following:

  • worked out a benchmark of emissions
  • started to take action

Find out more about how to track and share your progress.