As we take in the changes that the COVID-19 virus and necessary response has brought, with the physical isolation, shutdown of services and extra attention on hygiene practices, we are thinking about how to build flexibility to better cope with this kind of situation into the future. Whether this or other pandemics, or other disruptions to the economic system we seemed tied to, these disruptions become increasingly likely as climate change takes effect. We hope that the impacts of these changes have not been too disruptive for you and your business, or at least that some of the outcomes will become positive ones.
Whilst many of us work from home we may become more mindful of the way our business operates, the impacts the business has and reliance on other businesses, services, government and the environment.
Examining inputs, such as electricity and water, and outputs, such as spending on these service bills, we can recognise the carbon emissions of our business activity or the potential financial costs as the impacts of climate change escalate.
Conducting a waste audit will tell you a lot about what the office is using, and what the bigger items are, so you can begin reducing waste by finding solutions to these. Are there lots of coffee cups in the bin? Investigate whether a coffee machine in the office would be practical or financially viable, or dig a little further and consider how much coffee is being consumed and why? Often getting to the bottom of the problem can provide the solution.
There are plenty of ways we can make modifications even as we remain at home. Addressing the energy & water efficiency of your home or business premises can reduce your bills, improve health and productivity, whilst also reducing carbon emissions.
A good place to begin is by auditing your business’ energy consumption. An energy audit can help identify what are your biggest energy uses, making it easier to know where to cut energy use or look for a more efficient operation. Look for options to source energy renewably and locally (e.g. solar), switching to efficient alternatives, retrofitting premises and modifying behaviours for energy saving.
Some Local Councils in Victoria have partnered with Sustainable Melbourne Fund to provide access to loans for local businesses to make environmental upgrades to their property. For business in Maribyrnong you can find details here: https://www.maribyrnong.vic.gov.au/Business/Doing-business-in-Maribyrnong/Environmental-ugrades-to-your-property
Victorian Energy Upgrades is a program by the Victorian Government to help businesses cut power bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions with information on energy saving as well as discounted energy-efficient products and services. https://www.energy.vic.gov.au/energy-efficiency/victorian-energy-upgrades
Re-Architecture will be conducting a carbon audit this year, as part of our pledge to declare that we are in a Climate Emergency, with Australian Architect’s Declare. This group can provide assistance to architecture businesses needing help with their carbon audits, if they are joining the pledge. Australian Builder’s Declare and Australian Engineers Declare have also made declarations. You can find out more through joining the movement.
For other businesses, search for carbon audits in your country. Carbon Social is one organisation providing ethical, social and environmental carbon credits.
Re-Architecture are available to help organisations, businesses & individuals with ways to reduce building-related emissions and find sustainable solutions for your situation.