Tips for a climate-neutral company

Once your company has assessed its own carbon footprint, there are a range of options to reduce and optimise it. Some of the specific points your company can address are as follows:

Reduce air travel

A simple but effective option for reducing a company’s carbon emissions is to cut back on air travel. For domestic business travel, in particular, switching to trains or coach buses can be a better option. The coronavirus pandemic has proven once and for all that meetings and conferences can often be held entirely online. However, if situations still arise where air travel is necessary, particularly for intercontinental flights, providers such as the NGO atmosfair or Foundation myclimate offer options to calculate the greenhouse gas emissions and offsetting costs for flights. The amount can be donated via the providers’ websites and goes towards climate protection projects around the world. Numerous airlines also offer the option to book an offsetting donation at the same time as you book your flight. You can also purchase offsets for other types of travel, such as car journeys.

Commuting to work

It is also possible to reduce carbon emissions when commuting to the office. If employees have the option to commute to work on public transport, by bicycle or even on foot rather than by car, for instance, it can already make a difference in the company’s carbon footprint. Financial incentives for purchasing an annual public transport ticket may help employees make the switch. Additionally, many employers are beginning to offer leases on company bicycles. These are tax-deductible as benefits in kind, making them more affordable for employees than buying a bicycle for themselves.

Carpooling or using car-sharing services is another recommendable option. If the company itself offers a fleet of vehicles, switching to electric vehicles might be something to consider.

And of course, working from home may be an alternative to commuting. If employees do not have to commute to work every day, their emissions are automatically reduced.

Electricity, lighting and heating

Using energy properly is essential for reducing carbon emissions. Consequently, a first step would be to transition to renewable energies, or more specifically, to a utility provider that offers green energy. If possible, companies could also consider installing solar modules.

Switching to LED lighting is another option. After all, energy-saving lightbulbs can reduce energy consumption by about 50 per cent compared to conventional fluorescent lamps. An additional daylight management system and motion sensors or timers can help reduce energy consumption by a further 20 to 30 per cent.[1]

Using heating systems properly can also reduce emissions. Spaces containing numerous electronic devices that give off waste heat when they are in operation do not need to be heated as frequently or intensely. Thermostats should be set properly to avoid unnecessarily and often unintentionally heating unused spaces at night. Companies should also ensure that doors and windows have a good seal when closed, that radiators are not covered or blocked, and that heating systems receive regular maintenance. When moving into a new office space or renovating an existing building, thermal refurbishment may also be recommendable.

Going paperless

Switching to digital processes naturally reduces paper usage significantly. However, very few companies are able to go entirely paperless; for cases where paper is necessary, recycled paper is the way to go. It consists of 100 per cent old paper, meaning that it conserves resources and water. You might also want to consider replacing other office supplies, such as window envelopes. The window makes them more difficult to recycle.

Waste sorting

Correct waste sorting is essential for allowing materials to be recycled. Consequently, proper waste sorting facilities should be set up in every office. The five most important categories are: reusable materials, glass, paper, organic waste and household waste. The Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) offers a detailed explanation of how this process works.

Disposing of electronic devices requires special care. Smartphones, computers and televisions contain valuable and, in some cases, rare materials such as copper, aluminium, gold and neodymium. Recycling or reclaiming these materials conserves natural resources and, consequently, protects the environment. Additionally, electronic devices may contain materials that could pose a health hazard or harm the environment, such as mercury in energy-saving lightbulbs or CFC-based coolants in cooling appliances or air conditioners that are harmful to the environment. These substances must not be allowed to find their way into the environment and must be disposed of properly.[2]

Office furniture and supplies

Hidden factors that can contribute to your carbon footprint can also be found in office furniture and carpets. Particularly in wood-based materials, adhesives and coatings, you will often find solvents, terpenes, aldehydes and plasticisers. Consequently, when you purchase office furniture, the important factors to look out for are durability, local production and sustainability. The same holds true for food and beverages. Buying local, seasonal foods can help reduce carbon emissions, and so can switching to glass bottles for water and other drinks, or installing a water filtration system for your tap water. Purchasing a fully automatic coffee machine also eliminates the need for the mountains of coffee pods some machines require; they are not generally recyclable.