Britain's smaller businesses taking power into their own hands. Tens of thousands of small businesses across the UK are embracing the sustainability message by either generating their own heat and power, or planning to do so. That's one of the surprising findings of a new report on sustainable businesses practices, published today by Cornwall Pure Business, the county's inward investment service. If these businesses put their plans into action, this could mean a saving of up to half a million tonnes of carbon annually. |
The report, launched as part of Cornwall's 2007 Business Week, demonstrates an encouraging swell of positive action by Britain's small business managers. A survey conducted for the report showed that 16% of the managers and directors in small to medium enterprises (SMEs), across all age groups, say their company has already adopted or intends to adopt solar heating, and 11% said the same for wind turbines. The survey also indicates even lesser-know technologies, such as photo voltaic cells or ground source heat pumps are being actively investigated by tens of thousands of UK SMEs.
The research, undertaken by YouGov on behalf of Cornwall Pure Business, assessed the opinions of 1,000 owners and managers in SMEs with two to 49 employees. SMEs account for around 20% of carbon emissions from UK business and public sector2, and yet much of the research on business response to climate change to date has focused on large organisations.
Lucy Thom, Inward Investment Manager for Cornwall Pure Business, said: "It seems Britain's SMEs are beginning to taking their green consciences to work with them. In Cornwall, we are not only seeing a growing number of companies that are taking steps to be greener, but also an increase in businesses based here that offer products and services for this fast-growing market. In fact, the renewable energy sector is already worth approximately £34 million to the regional economy. In the South West, it is estimated the sector will support between 14,000 and 17,000 full time employees by 20203."
Andy Honey, a spokesperson for Cornwall-based Microgeneration, a company that specialises in environmental technology solutions for businesses, commented: "There has been an upsurge in interest in recent months, driven by environmental concerns and the soaring price of traditional energy sources, which shows no sign of waning. Now we're getting to the stage where people are actually taking the plunge, and asking us to help them explore solutions that work for their business. The market is definitely growing."
The Cornwall Pure Business report highlights some important concerns held by SMEs about adopting environmental technologies:
While 73% of managers surveyed agreed that it is important for businesses to be more environmentally sustainable, 72% perceived cost as a barrier to adopting green technologies.
45% also cited planning as an obstacle, and 29% felt that a lack of information was preventing them from taking steps to become more sustainable.
Justin Olosunde, Envision, the South West's government subsidised environmental support organisation said: "This lack of information is a real problem for SMEs. They simply don't have the procurement or planning teams of large businesses to evaluate which renewable option is best. That's why our independent advice is so vital, as it saves businesses time, money and resources."
Lucy Thom added, "At Cornwall Pure Business, we receive numerous enquiries from potential relocators who are seeking a more sustainable approach to their business. Many see Cornwall as the natural choice for setting up or relocating a 'green' company, The county has long been seen as a front runner in environmental issues, a pioneer in geothermal energy research and home to the Camborne School of Mines, the world's foremost centers of earth science. The work of the Eden Project, and now the forthcoming commercial Wave Hub, the first of its type in the world, all add to the county's credentials. What's more, we have the supportive infrastructure that is so crucial for businesses planning to make these big commitments to greater sustainability."
Companies seeking to find out more about opportunities for environmentally sustainable business in Cornwall should contact Lucy Thom, Cornwall Pure Business on 01872 322 814 or email firstname.lastname@example.org