10 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Business’s Carbon Footprint

10 minutes

With an increasing awareness of environmental sustainability, it is now more important than ever for businesses to minimize their carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is the sum of all emissions caused directly and indirectly by a business’s activities, calculated in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) units (you can learn more about later).

Running a business isn’t easy, and it often involves various environmental costs — but you don’t have to sacrifice your sustainability standards in the pursuit of success. Understanding how to reduce carbon footprint is important knowledge to have as a business owner.

As many businesses are realizing, reducing their carbon footprint will lead to a reduction in operational costs and improve their public image.

If that sounds like something you want for your own company, keep reading to learn about eight actionable tips that can help reduce your business’s unlimited impact on our environment.

1. Set Carbon Reduction Targets

Achieving net zero carbon emissions may seem like a lofty goal, but with the right strategy it is attainable. Setting carbon reduction targets is an essential first step to reducing your business carbon footprint. Carbon targets define measurable objectives which help guide an organization’s efforts in becoming more environmentally conscious.

Becoming familiar with the process of setting and achieving these goals is an imperative initial step in any successful long-term carbon reduction strategy. You'll need to engage in extensive data collection about where your CO2 emissions are coming from and how they impact all of your processes, both internally and externally, as a company.

Through this transparent guidance, businesses can set themselves up for success by breaking down their desired goals into smaller, more attainable targets. To learn more, stay tuned for our upcoming blog on “How to Reduce Your Environmental Footprint One Carbon Target at a Time."

2. Reduce Energy Use

Research has shown that energy consumption from business operations typically makes up a major portion of companies’ carbon footprints, making it a great area to focus on when trying to reduce the impact of your business.

There are many ways to reduce energy use - purchasing more efficient equipment certified by ENERGY STAR, programming thermostats to only run during working hours, unplugging equipment at the end of each day, and taking advantage of natural sunlight for lighting. All of these are simple yet effective steps that can make significant reductions in carbon output and help you save money.

Improved efficiency doesn’t have to be frustrating - software solutions like Stream™ or Energy Manager™ make it easy to identify, monitor, and optimize energy efficiency across large-scale operations, all while helping you prioritize initiatives that lead to further savings and a reduced business carbon footprint.

3. Regulate Business Travel

One of the best tips for reducing carbon footprint is to rethink your company travel policies.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounted for 27% of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2020. Regulating business travel is one simple way companies can reduce their carbon footprint while still benefiting their operations and bottom line. In fact, regulating business travel should be a key element in your GHG protocol for carbon emissions reductions.

As a business owner, you have the unique opportunity and responsibility to start making changes to reduce their carbon footprint and protect our environment.

By decreasing the amount of air and road travel employees take for business purposes, their carbon footprint can be reduced drastically.

Moreover, if companies switch from flying to trains, buses and other types of public transportation when possible, the environment benefits even more due to the lower emissions these forms of transportation provide. Companies can also encourage carpooling among employees traveling together, which helps reduce individual emissions on a smaller scale.

Companies can also consider a variety of energy-efficient measures such as:

  • Switching to hybrid or electric company vehicles (even just one electric car in your company fleet can make a difference)
  • Allowing employees to work from home
  • Utilizing public transport or ride-sharing services for business trips, encouraging biking and carpooling to work

… or any other measure that reduces the use of fuel wherever possible.

The overall aim here is to adopt methods that reduce GHGs without compromising commerce efficiency and productivity.

4. Use Sustainable Suppliers

Here's another tip for reducing your company’s carbon footprint - rethink your supply chain. An effective method for this is to use sustainable suppliers for any of the finished or raw materials that are used in your supply chain. Doing so is just as important as implementing in-house efforts toward creating a greener workplace.

Unsustainable suppliers contribute to the rising level of emissions, and many businesses unknowingly fund these practices by continuing to work with them. Scope 3 emissions are produced by any organization within the company's value chain and while they aren't produced by the company itself, you as a company are indirectly responsible for these emissions.

To avoid this culpability, ask your suppliers directly what their carbon emissions data is, or look for companies that have an ISO 14001 certification – an accreditation that demonstrates the supplier is measuring and improving their environmental impact. Offsetting your carbon footprint by using sustainable suppliers is an easy win for your business and the planet.

5. Offset Your Carbon Emissions

Offsetting emissions can be an effective and affordable way for businesses to supplement their reduction of their overall carbon footprint, and combat the effects of global warming.

Carbon offsets are credits that companies purchase to compensate for their emissions. By investing in approved projects, businesses can offset their total emissions and effectively reduce their ecological footprint. Offsets are available for a wide range of initiatives, from renewable energy investments to reforestation programs, so businesses can pick and choose initiatives according to their budget and emissions reduction targets.

It is important to remember, however, that offsetting carbon is just one part of a comprehensive sustainability plan; when used in conjunction with other proactive methods of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, companies have the potential to make lasting impacts.

6. Implement ESG Software

Reducing the carbon footprint of our business’ operations can be complex and difficult to manage, but implementing ESG software makes it much simpler.

ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) software is an emerging trend in the business world that helps organizations reduce their carbon footprint. By using ESG reporting software, businesses can measure, monitor and manage their carbon emissions to find ways to make their operations more sustainable.

This type of software can track energy usage, encourage waste reduction throughout the value chain, help with ESG data collection, provide clear reporting options on sustainability-related goals and even help with benchmarking against competitors.

These are not one-size-fits-all solutions since businesses have unique goals and resources; the tools within ESG software allow organizations to customize it to fit their specific needs.  Essentially, ESG software offers a digital platform for companies to easily ensure they are taking action to reduce their carbon footprint. By analyzing your ESG performance, you can lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduce your carbon footprint.

Brightly Stream is a great example of this kind of software: not only does it allow businesses to easily monitor and apply carbon reduction measures in real-time with actionable ESG data, but it also helps ensure that their emission disclosures satisfy laws and regulations. And best of all, it saves organizations money in the form of lower utility bills.

Stream Dashboard

By leveraging ESG software solutions like Brightly Stream on your ESG journey, businesses can maximize their carbon reduction opportunities while remaining as cost-effective as possible. Note: Consider including a screenshot of Brightly Stream at work to give readers an idea of the capabilities ESG software provides. 

7. Eliminate Waste Where Possible

We all know that the world generates a large amount of waste, and commercial waste makes up a significant percentage of that. In 2018 alone, the US generated 292.4 million tons of waste to landfills, with a large percentage of that due to commercial operations.

As a business owner looking to reduce your carbon footprint, it's important to look at your operations and identify ways to cut back on product waste.

Here are some simple solutions you can start implementing today:

  • Transitioning from paper documents to digital records
  • Placing convenient recycling bins around the workplace for easy access
  • Committing to packing any products you send out in sustainable packaging
  • Eliminating single-use plastics where possible

A company waste reduction strategy should include reusing products and packaging wherever possible, recycling as much material as possible, and rethinking product design so unnecessary materials are not wasted in the first place.

Companies should also look for alternative processes or materials that are more energy efficient or less harmful to the environment. Furthermore, they should use digital resources instead of paperwork whenever possible and implement smarter purchasing strategies that avoid excess consumption.

With proper planning and implementation, companies can reduce their waste output while also cutting costs and improving their environmental performance.

8. Conserve Water

Conserving water is an important way for businesses to reduce their carbon footprints. While we may think of water simply as a utility bill, the fact of the matter is that considerable energy goes into heating and processing it.

By cutting back on water usage where possible, businesses can not only lower their monthly bills but also make significant strides in reducing their environmental impact.

There are countless methods that can help with the goal of conserving one of our planet's most precious resources (without sacrificing product quality or efficiency), such as:

  • Regularly repairing leaking faucets and pipes
  • Lowering water heater temperatures
  • Running washers, dishwashers, and other water-intensive machinery only when fully loaded

Investing in technologies such as water-saving appliances, greywater systems, and rainwater recycling are some other methods that can help businesses cut down on both water use and emissions.

Moreover, by implementing more efficient irrigation and landscape technology, businesses can reduce their daily water consumption—and their monthly energy bills. Furthermore, investments in renewable energy sources, such as solar power, wind turbines and geothermal heat pumps can play a major role in reducing carbon emissions.

Companies looking to truly go green should consider all these options to create a comprehensive conservation plan that is both beneficial to the environment and financially viable over time.

9. Engage Employees

Engaging employees is one of the most effective ways for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint. Inviting employees to contribute their own ideas from a wide range of areas can both help them feel a sense of purpose in the fight against climate change, and open up further avenues for reducing emissions.

By empowering them and establishing an environment of collaboration and creativity, companies can have a major effect on their environmental impact without requiring large investments.

Reducing a business' carbon footprint begins with ensuring that the leadership of the company is fully engaged. The commitment to reducing their own carbon footprint must start from the C-Suite by setting the example and providing clear action plans for everyone to follow. 

To make sure each person across departments continues to strive towards this goal, they should see how individual efforts are being measured and rewarded - this will motivate them to keep on track and puts their own role into perspective when it comes to reducing the carbon footprint of your business as a whole.

From there, businesses can inspire their employees to take ownership of their carbon footprint by engaging them in various ways. Strategies such as sustainability workshops and training help educate employees on environmental issues and how they can reduce their carbon footprint. 

Companies can support eco-friendly initiatives through company matching programs for donations to sustainable projects, encouraging employees to get involved. Hosting regular staff meetings is also an ideal way for employees to share ideas and find new ways to promote sustainability in the workplace. 

Another fun idea? To demonstrate their commitment and further reduce emissions, businesses could also start a staff garden designed to offset the effects of fossil fuels. Taking these diverse approaches can encourage employees to take responsibility and make change prevail.

10. Partner with Brightly

To make reducing your business’s carbon footprint easier, try partnering with Brightly – an organization offering a suite of sustainability solutions that are tailored to each business’s unique needs.

Whether you’re looking to reduce your energy costs, improve compliance management, or boost the performance of your lightweight products, their integrative sustainability solutions can help. From early implementation to successful integration, Brightly offers tools designed to get your company on track for sustainability and accelerate results.

To find out which solution best fits your organization’s carbon reduction goals, it might be wise to speak with a Brightly expert so you can create a complete carbon-reducing plan that works for you.