According to the Small Business Administration, there are 31.7 million small to mid-size enterprises (SME) operating in the US. They make up 99.9% of the total number of businesses in the country, providing work for nearly half (47.1%) of its workforce, with 60.6 million employees as of 2020.
Although collectively referred to as small businesses, SMEs experience faster business growth and pay higher salaries than their global counterparts. While they play a huge role in the US economy, small businesses also contribute largely (60-70%) to its total industrial pollution. Because of this, the country’s private sector is faced with a double whammy of switching to the use of sustainable, renewable energy and recovering from the disastrous effects of Covid-19.
The vast majority of SMEs weren’t prepared to deal with the demands and effects of climate change even before the pandemic. For those who had innovative, sustainable products, high upfront investments prevented them from developing their ideas.
This is a huge hurdle that both governments and SMEs need to get through with. How can SMEs help with the national and global energy transition if they are not financially equipped? On the other side of the scale, how can governments acquire technological advancements without the capabilities of SMEs, especially tech startups?
The pursuit of zero-carbon emissions is long overdue. Governments and large corporations lead the way in transitioning to a low-carbon economy. SMEs should also do their part, but they need help.
Climate change is a global issue that requires collaboration from all stakeholders — governments, huge brands, and SMEs. For this reason, the Biden administration is proposing the $30 billion-worth Small Business Opportunity Fund. Experts at the Brookings Institution, however, believe that this is lacking. According to the public policy organization, the country’s SMEs’ will at least need $50 billion to fund
While monetary assistance is a huge help for businesses to comply with energy transition measures, there is a need to change SMEs’ practices on how they create and consume energy. Today’s articles will shed light on these best practices and how you can apply them to your small business.
Develop a Sustainability Plan
A sustainability plan is a documentation of your company’s program to accomplish the switch to the use of renewable energy and thus, help the national energy transition and lower the country’s carbon emission. It is developed in five easy steps.
First, your company should learn more about sustainability and its relation to your industry. Then, you should assess areas of your company that need improvement when it comes to sustainable practices. The result of your assessment will allow you to find opportunities in your business where you can apply sustainable practices, which is the third step. For the fourth step, you should devise a plan to accomplish this and other innovative ways to achieve the energy transition. The final step enables you to act out this entire plan.
Buy Carbon Offsets and Green Energy
Yes, carbon credits can be bought to offset greenhouse gas emissions. Some companies sell carbon credits in some states. The money they earn is invested in sustainable measures such as tree planting and hydrocarbon remediation. Carbon offsets can also be used to fund renewable energy projects or “green energy,” such as the use of renewable energy sources, including hydro, wind, and solar powers.
In states where carbon credits are not allowed, you can purchase green energy directly from a source, such as a utility company. Ask your utility company if they offer a renewable source option. You can also buy and install your own solar panels.
Build or Use Green Space
If you have the means, build your facility or office space following the US Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification standards. Or, if you’ll rent space, make sure that the building you’ll lease is LEED-certified.
Use Green, Used, or Refurbished Office Products and Items
If you’re going to buy office supplies, choose products that use recycled components, natural ingredients, and sustainably-harvested raw materials. For office furniture, make sure to choose second-hand or refurbished items. It can help you save money and the environment, too.
Encourage Employees and Customers to Participate
Allowing remote work for your employees is a good way to lessen the use of vehicles, which is one of the top contributors to carbon emissions. This also enables your employees to participate in your company’s green efforts.
For clients, provide paperless options when distributing documents. If you have a store, require customers to bring their own reusable bags when they shop.
You Can Do Your Part
The goal of targeting zero-carbon emissions is putting high pressure on global economies. Hopefully, the current 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) will create stricter measures that will require countries to further their climate change mitigation and promote energy transition better.
While policies and investments are crucial, businesses’ participation and action will ultimately have the biggest impact on climate change. Follow the tips above so that you can do your part, too.