Most business owners want to reduce their energy use and lower their carbon footprint, but many worry about the costs involved. Some common worries include “Will I have to replace my vehicle fleet?”, or “Will my operational capacity be affected?” You might be surprised to find that becoming more environmentally sustainable is more cost-effective and less resource-intensive than you first thought.
The New Zealand government has made things easier for small businesses by providing a variety of resources across multiple agencies to help you become sustainable. These range from quick tips to reduce your energy costs and overheads, to receiving financial support to make significant changes in your business.
When adopting sustainable practices, you’ll most likely find a little goes a long way. Even basic recycling, waste reduction and energy saving measures can significantly reduce your operational costs.
On this page:
- Why sustainability matters
- Envirostep: helping businesses become sustainable
- Landcare Research’s carboNZero programme
- EECA Business
- MFE sustainable development online resources
- Green growth agenda
Sustainability is rapidly changing the way we do business. Consumers and retailers in New Zealand and international markets are increasingly demanding sustainably produced goods and services.
Rather than a hindrance to growth, sustainability presents a number of opportunities for any business, including:
- Creating value by provding you with a marketing advantage.
- Driving innovation.
- Developing corporate responsibility and global awareness.
- Reducing costs.
- Improving productivity.
- Enhancing brand integrity and corporate reputation.
Find out how you can make small improvements or implement major changes in your business.
Envirostep is a free-to-use self-assessment tool developed by the Ministry of Economic Development to help small businesses to understand, improve and communicate their environmental performance. It can also be used by larger organisations to assess the performance of their branches, suppliers or members.
Envirostep works by asking you a set of questions about energy practices, water use, waste disposal and use of transport at your workplace. Based on your answers, Envirostep gives you an overall score of your current efficiency and provides you with improvement recommendations.
If you’re committed to becoming more sustainable, Envirostep offers a cost-effective sustainable certification service. This means an Envirostep auditor will visit your workplace to observe any changes you have made before awarding you with a certificate.
The carboNZero programme is managed by Landcare Research New Zealand Limited and provides New Zealand businesses with an internationally recognised (ISO14065) greenhouse gas certification. The award is aligned with international best practice and requires businesses to scientifically measure their carbon footprint and develop a business wide plan for systematic reduction.
For businesses committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and waste, carboNZero certification is a great way to provide assurance to customers, investors and business partners. Demonstrated environmental leadership also enables businesses to gain a competitive edge and market exposure.
There are five steps to becoming carboNZero certified:
Step 1, Measure: Landcare Research provides you with some online tools and resources to measure and understand your emissions sources.
Step 2, Manage: Set emissions reduction targets, track your performance and develop a road map for sustainable practice.
Step 3, Mitigate: Mitigate or offset your remaining, unavoidable emissions through the purchasing of verified and high-quality carbon credits.
Step 4, Verify: For integrity and to provide assurance on your market claims, your measurement is independently verified prior to certification.
Step 5, Market: Landcare Research helps you to communicate and market your carboNZero certified status.
Find out more about carboNZero.
The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) encourages, supports, and promotes energy efficiency, energy conservation, and the use of renewable sources of energy in New Zealand to both consumers and businesses.
EECA offers a variety of support to small businesses – from practical advice and mentoring, through to funding and awarding grants to businesses that are serious about reducing energy use.
Energy Leader is a handy tool for any business that is thinking about sustainability. It takes five minutes to answer some simple questions about your company, and your answers are collated into a customised action plan that includes some practical option you can implement become more energy efficient.
Energy Leader has three simple steps:
- Energy use – get practical energy-saving advice for the equipment and facilities you use.
- Energy management - make sure you’ve got the basics right to be an energy-efficient outfit.
- Action planning - review your plan and tailor it to suit your workplace.
Use Energy Leader.
Energising Business grants
EECA also offers financial support and grants for small to medium-sized business that want to improve their energy use. With an Energising Business grant you could get funding for a third of the cost of an energy assessment, and towards investing in the recommended improvements (up to $30,000).
Any business that spends less than $300,000 a year on energy per site may qualify. EECA targets certain sectors, such as tourism and food production, but companies in any industry can qualify.
How to apply
Energy service providers around New Zealand have been contracted under Energising Business to supply energy expertise to businesses.
They all carry the EECA Business Funded Programme mark (the blue tick). All you need to do is browse EECA’s list of providers to find one that works for you.
The service provider will liaise with EECA and manage the grant application for you.
The Ministry for the Environment (MFE) has collated a range of free resources for business as part of an online publications library. The Sustainable Development portal contains over 40 downloadable tools, templates and guides on a variety of topics ranging from reducing paper use in the office to sustainable building practices and solar power guides.
Find out about the regulatory authorities For the environment.
The Green growth agenda is a government initiative to maintain New Zealand’s competitiveness in the global green economy. It is significantly influenced by two reports:
- Greening New Zealand’s Growth (2011) by the Green Growth Advisory Group.
- Green Growth: Opportunities for New Zealand (2012) by the New Zealand Green Growth Research Trust.
Find out more about the Green growth agenda.