The colour of money: Strong green credentials appeal to clients
A business that improves energy efficiency will see financial return in more ways than one, with stronger green credentials making it decidedly more appealing to large clients
IMPLEMENTING best practice in energy efficiency is good for small firms, not only because cutting the cost affects the bottom line, but also because it contributes to their green credentials. Increasingly, larger organisations are looking at the environmental strategies of their contractors and suppliers, and making these an essential part of the tendering process.
Yvonne Boyle, brand manager for Business with energy provider Energia, says it is becoming ever more important for businesses to implement green strategies in the workplace and throughout their entire business environment.
For small firms, implementing energy efficiency savings and choosing renewable energy sources can help assure their continued presence in the supply chain as increasingly large organisations demand environmental sustainability practices and energy efficiency in their procurement of services.
A leading energy provider to Ireland's SMEs, Energia supplies gas and electricity to every third small business in Ireland, and knows very well how green credentials can help a company win business.
"Since we entered the business energy market in 1999, we have been providing much-needed competition, helping to drive down energy costs for Irish businesses. Our success can be seen in the fact that we supply over one third of Irish shops, many of the country's TV and radio stations, all mobile networks in Ireland and 95pc of the country's street lights - over 60,000 businesses in total. We produce and supply electricity both conventionally and renewable energy, giving customers a choice," says Boyle.
Energia's business customers have the option of going for 100pc renewable energy, further enhancing any environmental strategy. Energia Renewables is among Ireland's leading providers of sustainable green energy.
"A quarter of Ireland's wind power to homes and businesses across Ireland is provided through Energia. We currently supply over 740MWs of renewable energy and this will rise to over 1,000MWs by the middle of this decade. Energia has invested over €270 million in wind farms since 2008 and currently has over 300MWs of projects in development.
Meanwhile, Energia Generation has invested over €500 million in Irish energy generation infrastructure in Dublin, with two gas-fired power stations in operation.
While renewable energy is one way for a firm to boost its green credentials, there are also valuable environmental benefits to be had. By reducing energy usage by 10pc, companies will significantly reduce their annual CO2 emissions.
Measurement of your energy usage is a key way to controlling costs, says Boyle.
"As a supplier we work really hard to keep the pricing as competitive as possible; we have a trading team whose sole purpose is to do that. But there is an onus on the business to watch how it is using its energy."
Energia's online account management system allows customers to view and download bills, and view and export energy consumption over a period of three years for analysis, which helps monitor and improve energy usage patterns.
"It's about monitoring your energy usage, looking at how it is being used, and finding ways to reduce it. Energia has developed considerable expertise in the area of energy efficiency. We have helped to boost many businesses' competitiveness by giving them the knowledge and tools that help save money by reducing their energy consumption. This expertise is given free to all Energia customers."
Most businesses can save up to 20pc on their energy bills by implementing simple measures, says Boyle.
"Turning down the heating by 1 degree, for example, can reduce your heating bill by 10pc. Turning off lights in unused areas, again, can have an impact. There are bigger savings to be made if you look at energy efficient projects. For example, if you change the fluorescent lights in your business to LEDs you can reduce your lighting costs by up to 75pc. That's huge in any business."
Energia is now offering businesses funding for their energy efficiency projects, helping them to realise even greater savings through the use of cutting edge technology. The scheme provides businesses with funding of up to 30pc of the cost of energy-saving projects.
Replacing lighting, upgrading heating systems and refrigeration, variable speed drives and air compressors are all part of the funding scheme. Installing modern heating controls can save firms a minimum of 25pc on their annual heating costs. Upgrading refrigeration can bring savings of up to 30pc.
"Not only will your business benefit from the funding but with the additional cost savings from the reduction in energy usage, these projects can literally pay for themselves within a very short period," says Boyle.
"In addition, Energia will provide expertise and assistance with the implementation of your project. Whether you are implementing the project yourself or you require assistance from our carefully selected group of partners, Energia can help to get your project under way with safety and quality at the core."
All Energia customers also have access to Energia Extra, which is a loyalty programme offering discounts on many products.
"Customers can promote their business free of charge through this platform."
For more details on the energy efficiency funding scheme, go to www.energia.ie/funding