Businesses Urged To Improve Green Reporting

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The Environment Agency has cut its CO2 emissions by almost a fifth and urged others to follow suit

The Environment Agency (EA) has posted a significant reduction in its CO2 emissions and has urged other large organisations to improve their environmental reporting and performance.

The EA reports to the UK government and is responsible for rivers, flooding, and pollution.

Earlier this month it revealed that it had trimmed its CO2 emissions by almost a fifth since 2006/07. This, it said, has allowed it to reduce its operational costs by more than £6 million a year, thanks to the implementation of a number of green measures.

Green Savings

These measures include allowing the EA to reduce its office waste by 18 percent in the last five years, with an impressive 66 percent less waste send to landfill. During that same five year period it also recorded a 17 percent reduction in emissions, a 15 percent reduction in the energy used by its buildings, and a 18 percent reduction in mains water consumed.

The EA also managed to reduce its mileage by 33 percent, which meant 19 million fewer miles were done per year

But how exactly did it achieve these results?

Well it seems that it began use cleaner vehicles that helped reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. It also installed water saving technology in many its buildings and this has resulted in 12,000 m3 less water being used than five years ago.

Vehicle mileage was apparently reduced by helping staff make more sustainable travel choices. And office waste was reduced through a combination of improved recycling facilities and awareness raising with staff.

Another green improvement was installing voltage optimisation kit across 40 Environment Agency sites, that helped it cut energy use on average by eight percent at those sites.

It also said that automatic meter reading is being used at 500 sites which accounts for around 90 percent of total consumption. This, according to the EA, allows for better real time energy monitoring and management, reduces staff time in taking readings at remote sites, and results in accurate billing by its energy suppliers.

CRC Controversry

The green measures implemented by the EA shows the energy and cost saving possibilities for other companies, and it urged others to follow its example.

Of course, most (95 percent) of large businesses in the UK are now compiling with the Government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC). Organisations must register for the scheme if they used at least 6,000 MWh (Mega Watt hours) of half-hourly electricity during 2008, equivalent to an annual electricity bill of about £500,000.

Organisations will start to be charged for their carbon output in fiscal year 2011/12.

But it is clear the CRC remains unpopular with the majority of British businesses, and in April the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) slammed the scheme as adding to the cost of business. It said it believed the scheme “lacks credibility and has lost businesses’ trust” and should be scrapped.

Better Reporting

And there are further challenges ahead it seems.

The EA said that its own recent study of 500 FTSE companies showed that not enough companies are providing environmental statistics in line with Government guidance. It also found the quality of information is still very varied and in some cases basic.

“Big organisations often have a big environmental footprint,” said Dr Paul Leinster, chief executive of the Environment Agency. “Transport, energy and waste all contribute and need to be managed, measured and reduced. Those that do so effectively will reduce costs and improve their reputation.”

“In the future, we’ll see higher energy prices, more carbon reporting and greater competition for resources,” said Dr Leinster. “Good environmental management helps address each and also helps to reduce our running costs. Our own experience shows that focusing on a few important measures, embedding them into every team and reporting to the Board each year are key to success.”

Whether businesses will take notice remains to be seen however.

That said, it seems the message could be getting through, after Gartner recently said that improving sustainability related performance will become a top five priority for 60 percent of major Western European and North American CEOs by 2015.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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