Climate change presents a significant and increasingly pressing issue, requiring prompt and effective action. Businesses possess the potential to make a substantial difference, and embracing this challenge can deliver immense opportunities. The transition towards sustainable practices is not only about environmental responsibility but also about being financially savvy, improving employee wellbeing, and enhancing corporate resilience.

We've compiled key strategies and funding avenues available to Northamptonshire businesses aiming to adopt greener methods.

Want to know where to start? 

As the world faces escalating climate challenges, businesses have a crucial role to play in reducing their environmental impact. In 2024, sustainability should be at the forefront of corporate strategies.

Here are ten effective ways your business can take action now to lower your carbon emissions:

  1. Transition to Renewable Energy Sources: Embracing clean energy is critical for slashing carbon emissions. The first step is to ensure your energy provider is a green energy supplier - you can see the recommended 100% renewable energy provider here. Businesses can consider installing onsite renewable generation such as solar panels, wind turbines, or hydroelectric power. Cooperative schemes such as The Big Solar Coop can install solar for free and offer cheap energy to your business if your rooftop is larger than a tennis court. Local grants can support outright payment for renewables (see funding resources below), or there are a number of loan options. Utilising battery storage can enable the use of off-peak electricity or stored solar power, ensuring a sustainable and cost-effective energy supply.
  2. Energy Efficiency Upgrades: Undertaking a simple energy audits can uncover substantial areas of energy wastage. Production facilities can benefit from grants to upgrade equipment. Investing in energy-efficient technologies such as LED lighting, automated sensors, turning water coolers off outside working hours, and intelligent thermostats can lead to considerable reductions in energy use for offices. Simple measures like improving insulation, sealing draughts around windows and doors, and maintaining HVAC systems can also yield significant energy savings. See the Green Doctor resource below for support on insulating. 
  3. Remote Work and Staff Travel: Encouraging staff to work from home or telecommute can drastically cut the carbon emissions associated with daily commutes. Implementing flexible work policies not only contributes to a reduction in transportation-related emissions but can also lead to increased employee satisfaction and productivity. For when staff need to come into work, doing a simple travel survey asking for postcodes, how people travel to work, and consent to use this data for a carpooling scheme. Most schemes work best by connecting those that live close together so people can begin building a friendship, then those that wish to carpool can do so. You may even wish to incentivise those that opt to come in together.
  4. Sustainable Supply Chain: Collaborating with suppliers who prioritise sustainability is crucial. Businesses can reduce their indirect emissions by sourcing goods and services locally, minimising transportation distances, and choosing suppliers who utilise eco-friendly materials and practices. Regularly reviewing and optimising the supply chain for sustainability can have a profound impact on a business's overall carbon footprint.
  5. Waste Reduction and Recycling: Waste is a significant proportion of business carbon footprints, and reducing this can save money whilst impacting an area that consumers increasingly recognise as very important. Businesses should strive to minimise single-use plastics, instead utilising sustainable materials such as compostable or reusable materials, and encourage responsible waste disposal. Educating employees about the importance of waste segregation and the benefits of a circular economy can further enhance waste reduction efforts. Some businesses have on-site composting which helps further reduce employee waste. 
  6. Carbon Offsetting: For emissions that are currently unavoidable, carbon offsetting is a practical option. Investing in projects such as afforestation, reforestation, or clean energy initiatives can balance out emissions. While not a substitute for direct emission reductions, carbon offsetting is good as a final option to tackle emissions that cannot be cut and are useful at this present time as part of a broader carbon management strategy. There are a number of offsetting companies but Wren is a very transparent organisation that gives regular updates on the projects they run. 
  7. Green Building Practices: For businesses that own or manage their facilities, implementing green building standards can lead to substantial environmental and financial benefits. This includes using sustainable materials, enhancing natural light, installing energy-efficient HVAC systems, and ensuring proper insulation. Green buildings not only reduce emissions but also create healthier work environments.
  8. Employee Engagement: Fostering a culture of sustainability among employees is crucial. Regular training sessions, workshops, and sustainability challenges can engage employees in the company's green initiatives. Encouraging employees to contribute ideas and recognising their efforts can lead to innovative solutions and a more committed workforce. Many companies are now supporting employees to set up sustainability committees or forums to champion and progress ideas suggested. 
  9. Electric Vehicle Adoption: Transitioning to electric or hybrid vehicles for company fleets can significantly reduce transportation-related emissions. Providing infrastructure for electric vehicle charging at the workplace can also encourage employees to make the switch to cleaner transportation options. In Northamptonshire they are trialling hydrogen-powered HGVs, and if this is of interest to your business, keep an eye on Chelveston Renewable Energy Park
  10. Transparency and Reporting: Regularly monitoring, reporting, and setting targets for carbon emissions is essential for accountability and improvement. Transparent reporting can build trust with customers, investors, and stakeholders, and can also motivate the entire organisation to strive for continuous improvement in sustainability performance.

By implementing these strategies, businesses can make substantial progress in reducing their carbon footprint. Prioritising sustainability not only helps combat climate change but also positions your company as a responsible, competitive and forward-thinking leader in your industry.

Resources and funding options for your businesses:

Business & IP Centre Northamptonshire

The Business & IP Centre Northamptonshire serves as a vital resource for entrepreneurs, innovators, and business owners in the region. It offers extensive access to a wide range of information, including the latest in intellectual property, market research, and business insights. The centre is committed to supporting individuals at every stage of their business journey, from those taking their first steps to those looking to expand or protect their innovations. With its expert guidance and specialised resources, the Business & IP Centre Northamptonshire is dedicated to empowering business success in a competitive landscape.

Community Funding

NNC is enhancing community support through a series of funding initiatives. Firstly, the Council offers community grant funding, providing grants of up to £5,000 for voluntary and community activities that enrich the quality of life for local residents and increase community involvement. Secondly, community support funding is available, offering up to £15,000 to assist communities with mental health and wellbeing, volunteering, connecting to services, and supporting the voluntary, community, and social enterprise (VCSE) sector. Thirdly, the Council provides rural community capital funding, addressing the unique challenges faced by rural areas. Lastly, youth community funding for left-behind areas allocates up to £25,000 to support community activities and improve the lives of young people in underprivileged areas.

Discover NN

Discover NN presents a unique platform for businesses in Northamptonshire to showcase their sustainable initiatives and connect with a broader audience. By getting listed on Discover NN, businesses can highlight their commitment to sustainability, sharing their green practices and innovations with locals and visitors alike. This opportunity not only amplifies their visibility but also promotes environmental responsibility, inviting the community to support and engage with enterprises that are making a positive impact on the region's sustainability journey.

Innovate UK (UK Research & Innovation)

UK Research and Innovation, through Innovate UK, is dedicated to aiding the development and growth of UK businesses. Their focus is on fostering innovation in products, services, and processes that are essential for businesses to expand and scale up. The support offered includes tailored guidance, grant funding, loans, and procurement opportunities, all aimed at nurturing innovative ideas and facilitating business growth.

Northants Carbon Literacy

Northants Carbon Literacy is dedicated to educating and aligning teams on environmental impact through comprehensive training. They offer a free one-hour session on carbon literacy, providing a foundational understanding of carbon footprint implications. For a more in-depth learning experience, the full accreditation course is available for a nominal fee of £25 per person, empowering individuals and organisations to make informed decisions and take meaningful action towards carbon reduction.

Northamptonshire Community Foundation

The Northamptonshire Community Foundation offers several grants focusing on sustainability and environmental impact. The Yelvertoft, Winwick, Burton Wold, and New Albion Wind Farm Community Benefit Funds provide up to £10,000 for projects benefiting residents around wind farm sites, supporting charitable, educational, environmental, and community amenity projects that contribute to sustainability. The Robert Horne Employee Fund also aims to support former employees during financial hardships, potentially including those impacted by environmental changes. These initiatives are part of the Foundation's commitment to fostering environmental sustainability and supporting communities affected by or contributing to green initiatives.

NNDecarb business grant scheme

North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) offers grants each year to help businesses decarbonise their operations. Apply for up to £5,000 in grant funding to bolster your business's energy efficiency, transition to a low carbon economy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These grants can cover up to 50% of the project costs for installing low carbon and energy-efficient measures, with the remaining cost to be match-funded by the business. Please note that grants are paid in arrears, meaning the business must purchase the equipment or complete the works fully before reclaiming the grant from the council. Payments will be issued upon project completion and after the business has made the necessary payments.

Rural Business Grant Scheme

North Northamptonshire Council also offers capital grants ranging from £5,000 to £15,000 to assist rural businesses in enhancing resilience and fostering growth. These grants can be allocated towards investments in equipment, as well as the construction of extensions and alterations to existing structures. In the second round, a specific focus is placed on rural diversification, including farm diversification and projects that bolster the visitor economy, aiming to broaden the scope of opportunities and revenue streams for rural businesses.

Shared Prosperity Fund

In addition, North Northants Council has secured a total of £7.8 million in funding, including £4.8 million from the Government’s Core Shared Prosperity Fund, £1.1 million from the Rural England Prosperity Fund, and £1.9 million for the Multiply adult numeracy scheme. The core funding will be allocated across various initiatives including £1.5 million for local green spaces, £110,000 each for cultural activities and local visitation campaigns, £750,000 for community groups, and significant investments in economic growth, a visitor hub, business grants, start-up support, and energy efficiency for businesses. The rural funding will be directed towards a £870,000 rural business grant scheme and £290,000 for supporting rural community groups.