SMEs can do bit for energy conservation, too

September 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Insights

This article is contributed by Chua Wen Hao, Energy Analyst with the Energy and the Environment Division, Energy Studies Institute.

Energy efficiency has been earmarked as an integral part of Singapore’s energy policy. Efficiency gains are acknowledged to be one of the quickest and most cost-effective tools to achieve various policy goals, such as improving energy security, enhancing economic competitiveness or promoting environmental sustainability. To this end, the Singapore government has announced the implementation of the Energy Conservation Act, which will introduce minimum energy management standards for large industrial energy users from 2013.

The industrial sector accounts for almost 60 percent of Singapore’s total energy consumption. As the Act applies to just companies which consume more than 15 gigawatt-hours per year, only those operating on a large scale–generally MNCs (multinational corporations)–will be affected. However, SMEs should and can be doing their bit to save energy and consume energy more efficiently. The European Union, notably France and the UK, has such policies for its SMEs, and in the US, Industrial Assessment Centres have been established with the aim of improving SME energy management. Read more

4 Simple Green Strategies for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) – Part Four

May 25, 2010 by  
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green officesContinued from Part Three.

The third step to our 4 simple green strategies is to explore the demand for green products and services, be proactive to meet this need, and gain a competitive advantage by offering greener alternatives first, thus increasing your revenue.

Here, we present our fourth and final step:

4. Enhance Brand

After adopting the previous 3 strategies, SMEs will be in a better position to build up their reputation and enhance their brand as a sustainable company.

However, in your green marketing, it is important to avoid being accused of greenwashing – a term to describe the perception of consumers being misled by a company on its environmental practices or the environmental benefits of its products or services.

To avoid being accused of greenwashing and prevent negative feedback from consumers and environmentalists, it is important to ensure that the green claims of your business are true. Acknowledge the areas of your business that are not yet green and commit to work on it.

Engage your stakeholders, both internal and external, in a dialogue on your green marketing, and gather feedback from them on whether you’re on the right track or seen to be greenwashing.

SMEs can enhance their brand as a sustainable company only after implementing the previous 3 strategies, and also have to ensure that their green marketing is free of greenwashing.

We hope that the 4 simple green strategies will give SMEs some ideas on how to be more sustainable and help them start greening their businesses.

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4 Simple Green Strategies for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) – Part Three

May 24, 2010 by  
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increase revenueContinued from Part Two.

The second step to our 4 simple green strategies is to find opportunities to reduce unnecessary wastage and inefficient practices in your business.

Here, we present our third step:

3. Increase Revenue

More consumers are increasing aware of environmental issues, and some of them would even choose eco-friendly products over the normal ones, even though it costs more. The demand for green products and services present new opportunities for SMEs who are willing to explore this new green market.

SMEs can survey the needs of their existing customers (or even potential new customers) and find out whether there is a need for greener products and services. Next, look at your own products and services, and explore whether it is possible to make them more sustainable or even design new greener products.

Find ways to reduce the environmental impacts of your products throughout its life cycle. In addition, you can ensure that your products meet certified eco labels, such as the Singapore Green Label. This will enable your products to have a green premium over normal products but remember that it is still important to first meet the customer’s quality and cost needs.

By exploring the demand for green products and services and being proactive to meet this need, SMEs can gain a competitive advantage by offering greener alternatives first, and thus increasing their revenue.

To be continued in Part Four.

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4 Simple Green Strategies for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) – Part Two

March 25, 2010 by  
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cut costsContinued from Part One.

The first step to our 4 simple green strategies is to keep track of the relevant risks and take immediate actions to reduce them. Here, we present our second step:

2. Reduce Costs

Look at your business operations and the use of resources such as electricity, water, fuel, materials and chemicals. Monitor regularly on your fuel, material and chemical usage, water and electricity consumption, and waste disposed.

Find ways to increase the efficiency and productivity of your operations so as to reduce the use of fuel, materials and chemicals. Find ways to reduce the consumption and disposal so that your business can save on utilities bills and waste disposal fees.

For example, you could conduct an energy survey by taking a walk around the offices, building and facilities to observe what is happening on the ground, identify bad and wasteful energy use and habits, and identify opportunities for energy saving.

Or you could find out how your business manages waste, water and transport in your daily operations, and take steps to reduce the impact of these activities. You could also adopt energy efficient office equipment and energy saving tips.

Or you could start a recycling programme to minimise waste and start recycling at work.

There are many opportunities to reduce unnecessary wastage and inefficient practices in your business. Engage your employees and get them to give suggestions and help improve the use of resources and reduce costs.

To be continued in Part Three.

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4 Simple Green Strategies for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) – Part One

January 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Insights

There’s a growing interest in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) wanting to green their businesses, but real action is slow as they usually lack the knowledge and resources to do so. If you’re a SME who wish to be more sustainable, we present 4 simple green strategies here as a starter for you to take the first few steps:

  1. Reduce Risks
  2. Reduce Costs
  3. Increase Revenue
  4. Enhance Brand

Green Strategies for SMEs - Reduce Risks

1. Reduce Risks

Look at aspects of your business that has environmental impacts. It could be the use of resources: energy, water, chemicals and materials. Or discharges to the environment such as wastewater, air and chemical emissions, and waste disposal.

If these resources and discharges are not handled properly, they could be a risk to your business due to fluctuations in prices of resources, over-dependency on suppliers, change in government regulations, change in consumer demands, legal issues and liabilities, and hazards to employees.

Start now by identifying your environmental risks, monitoring them regularly and reducing those risks over time.

Some questions on environmental risks that you might ask:

  • How much energy, water, materials and chemicals are we using?
  • Which are the chemicals that are toxic and how are they handled?
  • How do we dispose or discharge wastewater, air emiisons, waste and used chemicals?
  • Are we meeting government regulations and how do we anticipate future regulations to change?
  • Are there incidents of leaks and spills of chemicals, and how can they be prevented?
  • Are we using too much resources and generating too much waste as compared to the industry norms? What happens if prices of the resources increase or disposal fees increase?
  • Do we depend only on resources from one or few suppliers, and are those resources sustainable and non-toxic?
  • Are our customers demanding for greener products or are more environmentally conscious?
  • What happens to our products after being used by our customers?

Keep track of those questions above and other relevant risks, and get someone or a team to monitor the potential risks. Take immediate actions to reduce the important and urgent environmental risks. And set a timeline to reduce other lesser risks.

To be continued in Part Two.

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