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7 Ways to Introduce Greener Practices: Your Guide to Business Sustainability

This Earth Day, let's reflect on our shared responsibility for the planet. As a company focused on sustainability, we're highlighting green practices all businesses can use to lower their carbon footprint and make a positive impact on the environment.


sustainable business practices


What is Earth Day?

earth day, business sustainability

The first Earth Day in 1970, sparked 20 million Americans to take to the streets, demonstrating against the impact 150 years of industrialisation has had on our planet and human health [Earth Day]. Today, this grassroots environmental movement has transformed into a global phenomenon that, in 2020, inspired over 1 billion people to celebrate Earth Day, helping to raise awareness to remind us of the fragility and beauty of our home.


Over 100 million trees have been planted in the last 50 years to celebrate Earth Day. But with rising concerns about rapid climate change, the increasing loss of natural habitats and biodiversity, and resource depletion, Earth Day still serves as a crucial reminder of the urgent need for action now. It's more than just protecting our planet, it's about Education, Engagement, Conversation and Restoration - and we can all play a part.



Empowering Businesses to Think Sustainably

In today's interconnected world, businesses wield significant influence over environmental practices and sustainability initiatives. From multinational corporations to small start-ups, every organisation can play a role in shaping the future of our planet. Yet, despite growing awareness, many businesses continue to prioritize short-term profits over long-term environmental stewardship.


What if, we invested in our planet instead?


Small changes can have a big impact if everyone does their bit. Rather than seeing Earth Day as a social trend media, or climate change as something that happens elsewhere and doesn't impact you or your business, we can instead recognise we have a collective responsibility to be part of the solution, not the problem.


That's the vision we've chosen to embody here at HUB, making small but positive changes in the way that we work and conduct our business. HUB's Green Agenda has helped us reduce our carbon footprint, lower our emissions, and start giving back to our planet, with community-based tree planting projects through our partnership with One Tree Planted.


sustainable intranet solution

We believe in being part of the solution, and currently are the only intranet provider championing sustainability, which not only benefits our business and our planet, but also our customers. HUB customers get a low carbon intranet solution (which helps with their carbon accounting to reduce emissions), and our annual tree planting and community-based initiatives ensure our customers know their intranet is having a positive environmental and social impact for the lifetime of their contract with us - which benefits their ESG reporting.





A Sustainable Business for a Lasting Impact

In this article, we'll explore the importance of sustainability in the corporate world and why companies should embrace environmentally responsible practices. By delving into the economic, social, and environmental benefits of greener work practices, we'll uncover why it's not just a moral imperative but also a strategic necessity for businesses to prioritize sustainability in their operations.


We'll explore:

  1. Improving energy efficiency;

  2. Embracing remote and hybrid working;

  3. Desk-sharing and downsizing office spaces;

  4. Reducing office waste;

  5. Investing in and sourcing sustainable products and services;

  6. Supporting green and ethical projects;

  7. Fostering employee advocacy.


Join us as we delve into these 7 Green Practices and why companies should integrate some, if not all, of these sustainable businesses practices into their core values and operations, not just for Earth Day, but for Every Day.





7 Green Practices For Creating A More Sustainable Business


1. Improve Energy Efficiency

energy efficient business, green business practices

Having a more energy efficient business doesn't just benefit the environment, it also benefits companies financially. According to a study by the Energy Saving Trust, SMEs could reduce their energy bills by 18-25% by adopting more energy efficient measures, with the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change highlighting the average saving for businesses could be £10,000 per year.


Despite this, just 25% of UK businesses have adopted more energy efficient practices, with many highlighting barriers, including:

  • Reluctance to invest;

  • Payback periods being too long;

  • Day-to-day disruption to operations;

  • Challenging internal perceptions.


For many, the long-term gain for embracing more energy efficient practices, is outweighed by the short-term effort and invest it needs to get off the ground.


Put The Energy In and Unlock The Rewards

However embracing energy efficiency at your company has massive benefits, including:

  • Cost savings: more energy efficient technologies can help lower utility and operational costs.

  • Improved profit margins: lower energy bills mean greater profit margins.

  • Enhanced Reputation: demonstrating your commitment to sustainable business practices can impress customers, investors and employees.

  • Reduced Environmental Impact: less energy means lower emissions and a smaller carbon footprint.

  • Future-Proofing: Not only will you comply with any future energy regulations, but by investing in energy efficient technology earlier, you're likely to avoid future price increases.

  • Competitive Advantage: It can positively differentiate your business in the marketplace, giving you an edge over the competition when customers and investors come knocking.


leadenhall building sustainability, energy efficiency

One positive example of short-term invest for long-term gain is The Leadenhall Building (aka The Cheesegrater) in London, where HUB's offices are based.

The Leadenhall Building has been designed with a special triple-layer glass 'skin', which responds to the Sun's movements and moderates the office temperature. This investment in design and engineering makes the building far-more energy efficient, minimising the need for air conditioning and heating.




10 Energy-Saving Initiatives Your Business Can Implement:

  1. Swap to LED energy saving bulbs;

  2. Change energy providers or plans to one that uses renewable energy;

  3. Install better insulation to reduce heat waste;

  4. Embrace renewable energy, by installing solar panels or heat pumps;

  5. Choose energy efficient equipment and appliances, with a minimum of A++ rating, (ie dishwasher, kettle, laptops, etc);

  6. Turn lights and equipment off at the wall at night - not stand by!

  7. Swap your desktop computers for laptops;

  8. Turn your thermostat down.

  9. Move on-premise servers to the cloud, and choose a server provider that uses renewable energy;

  10. Perform an energy audit - find out where you are wasting energy.


At HUB, we've embraced several of these practices already, including the swap to laptops, and moving our intranets to cloud service providers that use 85-100% renewable energy. All these things have positively impacted our business, and they could do the same for yours too.




2. Embrace Remote or Hybrid Working

hybrid working green practices

Switch-up your company's working week by adopting remote working and hybrid working practices. A recent study by Cornell University, found that remote working employees have a 54% lower carbon footprint compared to onsite workers.


Transportation is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and employee commuting not only has a negative effect on the environment but it also directly impacts your company's own carbon accounting. Studies by Sustainability House show that employee commuting is a significant source of emissions for many companies, accounting for 10-15% of Scope 3 emissions.


But it's not just your Scope 3 emissions that can benefit from a shift to more sustainable working practices. Having fewer employees in the office 9-to-5, means your business is using less energy from electricity, heating, cooling etc, thus helping to reduce your Scope 2 emissions.


hybrid working and employee engagement report

Our new report - Brave New World of Work & Comms - discovered businesses post-Covid are already embracing remote or hybrid working practices, with just 8% of UK businesses expected to be in the office 5 days a week.


But what's better, Remote or Hybrid?

Although hybrid working offers benefits for a better work-life balance, and can help to reduce your company's emissions, one day a week working from home doesn't have the same impact on your company's emissions:


Days working from home = Reduction in company emissions:
  • 1 Day = 2% reduction in emissions

  • 2 - 4 Days = 11% - 29% reduction in emissions

  • Fully remote = 54% reduction in emissions


So for your business to gain any sustainable benefit, your company needs to embrace hybrid working practices that see employees working from home a minimum of 2-4 days a week, in order to see any meaningful reduction in your carbon emissions. [Cornell]


At HUB, we've fully embraced remote working, transitioning our entire operation from the office to the home. This change has significantly lowered our overhead costs and carbon emissions. When we need to gather in person, we use hotdesking facilities like WeWork, and our employees rely on public transportation to keep commuting emissions low. Remote work has been a game-changer for us, and our intranet keeps us connected and engaged.




3. Desk-share & downsize

If you're embracing hybrid working practices, that means fewer bums on seats in your office every day, which begs the question - do you still need all that space?


Many businesses that have adopted hybrid working have also introduced desk sharing or hot desking policies. This move away from having your own allocated desk was highlighted in our recent survey of UK businesses, which found just 46% of employees have their own desk post-Covid, compared to 76% pre-Covid.


business sustainability

Introducing a desk sharing policy for your employees, means you can reduce the amount of space you require for your teams to work in the office, because you're never at full capacity. Downsizing your office might seem like a lot of hassle, but there are benefits on both a cost-saving and sustainability front, including:

  • Cheaper rent;

  • Lower energy bills;

  • Lower carbon emissions.


Studies show that shifting to desk-sharing and a smaller office space could help reduce your carbon footprint by up to 28%.  So although your employees would lose a space to call their own, and have to get used to sharing, you can make big gains by going small.




4. Reduce Office Waste

green business practices

Despite the rise in recycling and the awareness of the negative impacts plastic waste has on our environment and wildlife, a staggering 90% of businesses don't have a green policy or recycling policy in place.


BusinessWaste.co.uk conducted a survey of 700 business and found:

  • 80% had no separate recycling bins;

  • 96% didn't use recycled paper;

  • 59% used plastic cups at water fountains;

  • Only 6% used green cleaning products;

Commercial and industrial companies generated 40.4 million tonnes of waste in the UK in 2020 - that's up from 37.2 million tonnes in 2018 [GOV]. This includes food waste, packaging waste and plastic waste - the majority of which goes to landfill, where it generates harmful greenhouse gas emissions, including methane.


Adopting a more mindful approach to your company's waste management is a step towards a more sustainable way of working.


8 Ways To Reduce Waste:

  1. Conduct a waste audit, and find out where you can make changes that could have both an environmental and financial benefit to your business;

  2. Reduce the use of single use plastic - replace the plastic cups for paper ones, think about the materials that you're using and purchasing;

  3. Implement a recycling policy - that's not just paper and cardboard, but aluminium, food and glass. Think about all your waste and how best to dispose of it - which means...

  4. Get proper recycling bins(!) - and make sure employees use them.

  5. Go digital with your documents, and avoid unnecessary printing;

  6. Recycle and/or dispose properly of technological waste;

  7. Repair/Reuse/Refill instead of throwing away or buying new;

  8. Invest in more sustainable products to reduce plastic and chemical waste;





5. Source Green & Ethical Products or Services

When it comes to buying products or services for our businesses, everyone is always looking for the best deal. That usually entails a cheaper price - the best 'bang for your buck' - but cheap doesn't necessarily mean good quality, and more often than not, it does not mean it has been produced in a sustainable or ethical manner.


Investing in eco-friendly or ethically produced products is a conscious business decision. 'Going green' reduces your carbon footprint and demonstrates to consumers that you care about the ethical and environmental impact of the products you source or produce. Making the decision to be a climate-conscious organisation is a winning strategy that can set you apart from the competition.


If you're a manufacturer, it pays to be greener...

Studies show that consumers are willing to pay a premium for sustainable products. Despite the economic crisis we all face, consumers are happy to pay 12% more on average for a product, if they feel it has been ethically or sustainably produced.


8 ways to source ethical and eco-friendly products:

  1. Choose recycled products - from marketing materials to office supplies, make the move away from plastic and towards sustainable alternatives;

  2. Choose local - try to source products and services that are local to your business, and avoid unnecessary emissions from long haul transportation.

  3. Source Fairtrade and Organic products, and know your items have been sustainably and ethically produced.

  4. Think like a vegan - sourcing vegan-friendly products goes far beyond food, with animal-derived products found in plastic bags, printer inks, soaps, selotape, and more. With the farming industry being a massive contributor to global greenhouse emissions, choosing vegan-friendly products can be a wise choice.

  5. Avoid unnecessary throwaway items - For events, reconsider buying throwaway merchandise. Source useful, high-quality items for your business, and ensure they're biodegradable if disposable.

  6. Avoid single-use plastic wherever possible - and if you do need to source plastic items, try to find items made from recycled plastic.

  7. Choose to work with other sustainable companies - partner with businesses and services that embody the same ethical and environmental beliefs as your own.

  8. Choose companies and services that use renewable energy - whether its for you energy provider or your intranet provider, always opt for the low carbon solution.


At HUB, we partner with providers that environmentally-friendly materials for our events. All marketing materials is printed on sustainably sourced recycled materials, using vegan inks. We've ditched the plastic stands for cardboard ones, and our team's promo t-shirts are 100% organic, vegan-friendly, BSCI certified, Oeko-Tex certified, SEDEX certified and WRAP certified.


eco intranet solution

Having a low-carbon impact is something we're proud. We've made a conscious choice to opt for cloud service providers that can host our intranet solutions on low-carbon servers that utilise 85-100% renewable energy from offshore wind farms in the UK and EU.






6. Invest Support in Green Projects

Businesses looking to showcase their dedication to sustainability and corporate social responsibility, should look to support grassroots organisations committed to promoting positive environmental and social change, like reforestation.


Sustainability is everyone's responsibility, and it starts from the ground up, by uniting to supporting innovative projects that inspire hope and change. It is not always about fighting larger issues such as global warming, but rather supporting small differences to help sustain the environment and its inhabitants.


Adopting a proactive approach to supporting sustainable projects outside your organisation can elevate your company's reputation, attract environmentally-conscious customers and investors, and opens the door to exciting partnerships within the green sector.


This proactive approach is something we've adopted at HUB.


How HUB supports green grassroots projects


hub green intranet sustainable solution

We're proud to be an official business partner with reforestation charity One Tree Planted. For every HUB sold, we plant 50 trees where they are needed most, plus an additional tree every year for each of our customers, for the lifetime of their contracts with us. We focus on community-based reforestation projects, providing much needed support to marginalised communities directly affected by climate change, helping to:

  • Empower female farmers;

  • Provide job opportunities for local residents;

  • Create new revenue streams for local communities;

  • Help to preserve local culture and tradition.

  • Combat the negative effects of climate change.



The benefits we've seen as a business

We've made sustainability the cornerstone of our pitch, and it has helped us create a new unique selling point (USP) to differentiate our intranet product from competitors. As the first intranet provider to put sustainability front-and-centre of our business pitch, we've seen:

  • An increase in the quantity and quality of new leads;

  • Prospects are aligning themselves with our business sooner - even on the first demo / conversation, we're increasingly seeing prospective customers saying HUB is their preferred intranet provider earlier, because our green values align with their own sustainability goals;

  • Quicker conversation rates - since we launched our sustainability messaging, we've seen the time it takes for companies to convert dramatically decrease, with decision making times dropping from approx 3-5 months to 1 month or less.

  • Increased customer retention rates - from 91% to 97%, with existing customers proactively praising our green efforts.



5 green initiatives your company can support:

reforestation projects
  1. Reforestation projects - planting trees is proven as one of the best ways to combat the damaging effects of climate change and deforestation created by agriculture. It takes 460 trees to remove the annual carbon emissions of a single car, so its supporting projects like One Tree Planted helps tackle deforestation head-on.

  2. Community-based projects - providing support and education to grassroots community projects can be a game-changer. From education to empowerment, your support could have a dramatically positive social impact on the communities directly affected by climate change.

  3. Carbon capture schemes - demonstrate your company's commitment to a better future, by positioning yourself as a leader in supporting cutting-edge technology to combat climate change. By helping to remove harmful greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, your invest contributes to environmental sustainability and innovation.

  4. Plastic waste reduction and recycling - help combat one of the largest threats to the natural world. By backing initiatives that remove harmful plastics from oceans and find ways to reuse and recycle waste, you aid in restoring natural habitats and creating a safer environment for wildlife.

  5. Clean water projects - this can have a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of communities and adjacent wildlife. Access to clean water is a lifeline, and can also have a positive impact on local economies.





7. Foster Employee Advocacy

Your employees are one of your most crucial elements in your drive to becoming a more sustainable business. When employees are passionate about a company's sustainability initiatives, they become powerful ambassadors who can inspire others and promote eco-friendly practices both inside and outside the organization.

employee advocacy sustainability

Engaged employees contribute innovative ideas and solutions, helping your business achieve its sustainability goals more effectively. Moreover, a culture of environmental responsibility boosts morale, job satisfaction, and loyalty, leading to higher productivity and lower turnover. Involving employees in sustainability efforts fosters a sense of ownership and pride in the company's mission, strengthening the overall impact and success of your green initiatives.


Businesses that have an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policy, are also seen as a more attractive prospect for new employees. In fact, 64% of people will research a company's reputation before choosing to apply for a job there, with 71% of employees wanting to work for an organisation that positively promotes sustainability and the environment [Future Business].


Employees are now more clued up on both the positive and negative impacts a business can have on the environment, with many now choosing to work for companies that are proactively making a positive difference. Companies shifting towards more sustainable business practices is seen as a more attractive and exciting career opportunity, enticing more top-level talent to your business. The attraction comes not only from your company's commitment to sustainability, but a business that cares about the environment, is more likely to care about its employees and their wellbeing, which is a highly attractive trait in a business.


Fostering employee advocacy is essential for the success of your business' sustainable practices. Empowering employees in your green mission improves your reputation and contributes to a better future for both your business and the planet.



 


So as we celebrate Earth Day, let's reignite our passion for creating a greener, more sustainable world! By embracing eco-friendly practices, investing in impactful green projects, and empowering our employees to be champions of sustainability, we can drive significant change within our organizations and beyond. Together, we can contribute to the preservation of our environment and leave a positive legacy for future generations. Let's transform our shared vision of a greener world into dynamic action and inspire others to join us in this exciting journey toward a brighter, more sustainable future!


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