How to write an energy policy for your business

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Take steps to reduce your gas and electricity consumption

Last month, I wrote a blog explaining why every small business should have an energy policy. In this post, I will explain how to write an energy policy for your small or medium-sized business.

If you choose to write an energy policy for your business, bear in mind that it doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. In fact, for smaller businesses in particular, it may only amount to one side of paper – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Even if your initial policy involves achieving the smallest of goals and making the simplest of changes, it is a good place to start.

It’s better to start small than to set yourself up for failure by aiming too high. Always make sure that the goals of your business energy policy are realistic and achievable for your company’s means.

You should review your energy policy at least once a year; updating it with new goals and measuring progress. This means that starting with smaller goals can be advantageous, as you’re ensuring that there is room to improve and build on your achievements in the future

A business energy policy should state your business’s commitment to sustainability, and highlight the key areas that you are going to address in order to improve the eco-friendliness of your company.

If you’re struggling to think of things that could be addressed in your business energy policy, you could consider some of the following:

Gas, electricity and water – take steps to reduce your consumption, and review your supplier

Energy efficient electronics – whether it’s switching to energy saving lightbulbs, or investing in energy efficient equipment, there are a number of changes that could be made in this area

Paper usage – cut down on the amount of paper used, and be sure to recycle what you do use

Transportation – minimise the need for transportation, and encourage employees to carpool

Culture – make environmental awareness part of your business’s culture and values – make it an everyday habit

Chemical use – review the chemicals that your business uses, for example cleaning products

Employees – educate and train your employees on energy efficiency and resource management

supply-chain-sustainability

Are all the companies in your supply chain investing in sustainability?

Supply chain – are all the companies in your supply chain investing in sustainability, too?

Remember that your business doesn’t have to be a big one, with lots of spare cash to invest in sustainability. Even if you make the smallest of changes to begin with, and then build up to bigger investments over time – you’re still doing your bit for the environment and helping to improve your business overall.  By writing down your commitments to sustainability in the form of an energy policy, you’re ensuring that you stick to your responsibilities, and also making it easy to measure the progress that you make.

Take the first step towards an eco-friendly business, and start writing your company’s energy policy today.

Can crowdfunding make Europe’s financial system more sustainable?

The European Commission has published a capital markets union green paper

The European Commission has published a capital markets union green paper

Despite the idea of a ‘Union’ and the existence of a single currency, Europe remains divided when it comes to finance. Very few financial institutions operate across borders, focusing mainly on maintaining a presence in local centres and the global hub that is the City of London.

The European Commission has identified this bias towards national savings and investment behaviour as a weakness of the European system.  When things go wrong, as they did in 2007-10 – and will do again – these local pools of capital become stuck and what was liquid turns solid. International flows of capital and money are constrained by a combination of parochial regulation and parochial institutions.

In part this is cultural. We like to keep our money close to us, ideally in a branch down the road or in the local town. The UK’s nostalgia for local banks and bank managers (long gone but not forgotten) is reflected by similar nostalgia across Europe as if the idea of your money gathering dust in some neglected corner of the economy was morally right and frugal. 

Is capital markets union the answer?

The Capital Markets Union green paper examines how both wholesale and retail markets for capital – in particular capital reaching small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – could be encouraged to become more ‘cross border’ in their flows, and how in the future a more diverse and resilient financial system could be created.

International flows of capital and money are constrained by a combination of parochial regulation and parochial institutions

International flows of capital and money are constrained by a combination of parochial regulation and parochial institutions

The wholesale markets’ focus is on encouraging greater use of private placement and securitisation to allow more lending to businesses (either by giving mid cap companies an alternative to bank lending or by freeing up bank balance sheets to lend more). Retail markets  – the ‘investor on the street’ – also receive attention as it is generally recognised that small investors could more usefully (and profitably) deploy their financial capital if they were prepared to take a risk on their money and invest directly into the real economy.

Crowdfunding sits right at the intersection of this policy intent. Crowdfunding provides a cost effective means of access to finance for SMEs as well as providing small investors with a more level and importantly more transparent playing field upon which to invest.

But what are the barriers?

The main barriers to the expansion of cross border retail investment are regulatory. There is little consistency in the way individual country regulators define crowdfunding or how it is regulated.  The good news is the UK is generally seen to have a sensible approach which could be adopted more widely. However, the UK also benefits from a common law based legal system which makes it easier to implement more enlightened principles based regulation (where the regulator defines regulated activities in general terms and the platforms are responsible for innovation and implementation of the detail, versus civil law based codes which require a more rigid, legislative approach).

What is clear from the European Crowdfunding report, published last week by Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance and EY, is that there is both strong growth and strong demand for crowdfunding from the European crowd – and businesses like Abundance demonstrate that such models can attract money across borders (albeit on a small scale).  Responses to the consultation close in a few weeks so expect to see more about ‘Capital Markets Union’ coming to a crowd funded investment near you.