If your business is like most others, chances are you’ve already considered the importance of decarbonization. Businesses are aggressively moving toward carbon reduction across virtually all sectors. And with this comes the ultimate goal of achieving complete carbon- zero emissions in your operations.
This final destination is the goal we all share on the decarbonization path. But it’s a long way between here and complete carbon-neutral business operations. How can you better plan from where you currently stand to achieve the carbon transition goals for your business?
In this post, we’ve put together a solid starting point with four grounded ways to get your business moving toward decarbonization. Use these to help set up the foundation you will need to continue successfully moving toward a zero-carbon future.
1. Determine Exactly Where You Stand, Right Now, in the Decarbonization Process
The only way to understand how to move forward is to recognize where you are currently standing. The same principle applies to your business’s carbon transition, too.
This means you need to perform a carbon audit on all the major moving parts of your business. But don’t let the loaded term ‘audit’ scare you away! In this context, an audit is a good thing.
Auditing your business’s current operations will give you a snapshot as to where you stand in your carbon emissions. Accordingly, it will also help you more clearly recognize how to start moving from those emissions into renewable alternatives.
Determine Energy Usage and Efficiency: One of the biggest culprits in any business's carbon footprint is inefficiency and energy loss/waste. Assessing energy costs and the primary areas of energy usage in your organization will help identify pain points. This includes energy usage for day-to-day operations, equipment, facilities, transport, and other sources.
Determine Water Usage: Similar to power or energy, water is another critical resource that demands significant energy for its availability. Using water assessment checklists and equipment and facility inspections can identify overall water usage. Like energy, it can also reveal pain points of high usage or waste.
Measure Waste Streams: Waste streams refer to how and where waste materials pass through an operation. This includes a close examination of how materials are purchased and managed. In many cases, waste collection companies may have resources to help with an audit.
2. Identify Renewable Mandates, Regulations and Incentives for Your Region and Industry
Once your audit is done, you’ll have a better understanding of the current status of your business and where you’ll need to adjust. Setting up these adjustments must come alongside regulations, mandates, and other requirements in the region or country where your business operates.
You will need to take the time to understand what sort of requirements you’ll need to meet to remain in compliance. Keeping your perspective future-focused is key here. You’ll want to start developing a pathway that will ensure you remain compliant with the changing state of energy regulations. Otherwise, you’ll have to spend more time and money later getting your business up to speed.
Additionally, you can also take advantage of multiple incentives for investing in decarbonization technologies and carbon-reduction policies. For instance, the US Inflation Reduction Act provides a number of financial incentives to those who invest in and use renewable energy. Perks like low/no interest loans, grants, and tax credits can help reduce the burden of transitional investment spending.
Make sure to review potential incentives where your business operates to take full advantage of these added opportunities.
Looking for more strategies on how to navigate the challenging road of decarbonization for your business? Download our free Tip Sheet, 10 Tips to Navigate the Road to Decarbonization for Your Business.
3. Align Your Business with Sustainability-Focused Partners
Your decarbonization only goes as far as your business partners do. If your partners are not preparing for the energy transition, it means your business’s carbon footprint will suffer.
For instance, let’s say a wholesale business works with a supplier that refuses to even look into moving their truck fleet toward lower carbon alternatives. As a result, your business will still maintain that carbon footprint with all the merchandise you sell that was transported by the fleet.
Decarbonization isn’t isolated from one business to the next. The only way it works is through a commitment across the supply chain.
You need to assess where and how businesses in your value chain connect to the transition. Partner with those who can see the broader picture of decarbonization and will move toward it alongside your business. You want partners who will grow with you, not keep you stagnant.
4. Develop, Refine and Work Through a Decarbonization Plan
Finally, the only way to get from point A to point B is through a well-tuned plan that is custom fitted to your business operations.
Your plan must have enough grounded, real-world detail to help you stay on target with realistic steps, milestones and timeframes. Similarly, it must have enough flexibility to allow your business to pivot with new developments, technologies or laws/regulations.
We certainly acknowledge that developing a plan that is both specific and open to change is no simple feat! But you’ll only get traction on executing your plan by keeping it open to shifts and changes you’ll inevitably encounter.
What if a new technology emerges in the energy market over the next two decades? What if new regulations clash with your projections? These are the sorts of factors you’ll assuredly face as you execute your own decarbonization plan.
Again, the only way toward a goal as lofty as carbon zero is to move one step at a time. When an obstacle gets in the way, adjust, respond, and keep going. That’s the only way you’ll ever move forward.
Take a look at our free guide, 10 Tips to Navigate the Road to Decarbonization for Your Business,for even more help with your business's transition to renewables.