The UK economy is reckoned to be around 10% resource-efficient; just 10% of the materials, energy and effort expended make it into products or services sold. The scale of the opportunity is significant; Defra reports that low-cost and no-cost business resource efficiency (BRE) opportunities in the UK are estimated at £23bn in value. Total savings opportunities with a payback of greater than one year have been estimated at £55bn. The total associated carbon savings are around 90 MtCO2 or 13% of the UK’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions.
Nwes is a delivery partner of a new EU-funded project, Business Energy Efficiency Anglia.
Helping businesses to realise these opportunities is significantly more efficient – and ultimately achievable – than a) assisting businesses to grow and increase profits by £23bn, or b) developing low carbon or renewables infrastructure – or robust offsetting – equivalent to 90 MtCO2. The specific benefits tend to fall into four categories:
- Financial: reducing utility costs to improve competitiveness;
- Reputational: incorporating and demonstrating sustainability to increase brand value;
- Environmental: direct reduction of environmental impact;
- Resilience: reduce or substitute primary resource inputs.
The key success factors that enable businesses to successfully respond to this opportunity are on both the supply side (creating the right conditions for investment in the development/promotion of low carbon, resource efficient products – such as access to capital) and the demand side (either through policy measures – particularly regulation – or through a change in consumer behaviour; more specifically, the anticipation of a change in regulation or consumer behaviour is the key driver for the most successful businesses).
Business resource efficiency refers to a suite of supply‐side measures that tackle inefficiencies across supply chains. It is core to the dual challenge of stimulating the growth needed to provide jobs and well‐being and ensuring that the quality of this growth leads to a sustainable future. The overall aspiration shared by policy‐makers is an absolute decoupling of growth from resource depletion.
Even though businesses have a keen awareness of resource cost changes and the active management of wastes and by‐products, research has consistently demonstrated that more needs to be done to help businesses understand and embed the concept of BRE. Many businesses perceive ‘efficiency’ as a distraction from their core function. Studies draw particular attention to the importance of appropriate incentives such as grants and the current generation of business support programmes still need to do more to ‘reach out’ to SMEs and enable them to achieve their core functions by adopting more efficient practices and processes.
Nwes is delighted to be partnering Suffolk County Council, Norfolk County Council and Groundwork to deliver a new EU-funded project called Business Energy Efficiency Anglia project. Its energy-efficiency reviews and grant scheme are available to SMEs across Norfolk and Suffolk – providing free, confidential and impartial help for SMEs to realise real cost- and carbon-savings.
Written by Simon Best, Nwes European Strategy Manager.
If you’d like to find out how the BEE project could support your business to make efficiency savings, get in touch with them today.