Home' The Channel Magazine : August 2011 Contents Small business owners
who have not started
to reduce their carbon
footprint should seriously
start assessing the
impact the carbon tax will
have on their business.
The Executive Director for advocacy for
the Green Building Council of Australia,
Robin Mellon, says SMEs need to start
preparing energy-saving measures now.
“I understand there are issues about
survival and a lot of issues about risk
management but it’s more about good
business management and less about
ethics and environmental thinking. Plus it
saves you truckloads.”
Mellon says SMEs that are reducing
their carbon footprint are making
decisions not just based on environmental
factors but also on economic factors.
“We’ve heard from our own members —
‘if you pollute more it will cost you more. If
you pollute less, it will cost you less’. T he
latter can only be a good thing,” he said.
Building Green Business Director
Richard Nicol says the first thing SMEs
should do is measure their carbon
footprint and energy use.
Nicol recommends a three-step
plan for SMEs trying to reduce energy
“Start with low-hanging fruit,” Nicol
Make sure lights are turned off, avoid
computer standby use and get rid of
unnecessary appliances like hot water
tanks. Change your recycling strategy,
make alternative travel arrangements and
consider video conferencing.
“T h is is what I call the easy stuff,”
After that he says it is crucial to
engage your biggest asset — your staff.
“T hey are the people who actually work
in the environment,” Nicol says. “Tell
them why you are reducing your carbon
footprint. The next step is to communicate
this to your other stakeholders (suppliers
The next key step is to spend money on
replacing lights, reconfiguring appliances
such as air conditioning and installing new
equipment such as solar energy sources.
“A good carbon assessor will make
those recommendations for you,” Nicol
says. “ It doesn’t matter what the price of
the carbon tax will be or even if it doesn’t
come in. More and more customers will
be asking ‘What are you doing to reduce
your carbon footprint?’”
Sustainable building design is
becoming a mainstay in the Australian
construction industry with T5 lighting,
reduced water-flow taps, passive air-
conditioning and motion detectors —
some of the sustainability initiatives
common in many workplaces.
“A few years ago we would have
laughed at the concept of carbon neutral
buildings,” Mellon says.
The introduction of a carbon tax will
inevitably increase energy costs for SMEs,
which should carefully consider how those
costs will impact on their suppliers and
In many cases customers will face the
full brunt of the carbon tax.
If energy costs are going up it is
unavoidable for the average small
business owner not to pass those costs on
to the end user.
Products carrying logos such as
“Greenhouse Friendly” or “Energy Rating”
have been seen as a great way to market
a product or service but in recent years
concerns that green product accreditation
schemes were not independently checked
and monitored have led to accusations
that some companies were engaged in
“I f small businesses want to increase
product sales they must choose to sell
products with a good lifespan and that are
responsibly sourced,” he says.
“Greater awareness for consumer
groups is something we want to see more
of”, Mellon said.
HOW TO MANAGE THE CARBON TAX
By Smart Company.com.au
National Newsagent August 2011
save money and
1. Develop a plan to re-use, recycle; set
targets for achievement.
2. Reduce energy: Turn off computers at
end of day, turn off screen savers and
stand-by power. Install energy efficient
3. Save water: Fix leaky taps and pipes.
Install flow restrictors on taps. Review
cleaning methods to conserve water.
4. Reduce waste: Re-use cardboard. Sell
your excessive waste to companies who
want it. Buy remanufactured printer
cartridges. Be a collection point for used
cartridges. Use mugs, glass and cutlery
instead of disposable plastic, paper and
5. Adjust air conditioning: Use natural
ventilation where possible. Close all
windows and doors while the air-
conditioning is on. Switch off heating and
cooling after hours. Set air conditioning
systems between 24oC–28oC in summer.
6. Cut down on transport: Source
goods locally, use phone and video
conferencing, car share.
7. Monitor your progress: Set targets,
measure and evaluate program.
8. Seek up-to-date information from local
councils, state and national government
and the web.
9. Get assistance to get started and seek
government programs to assist.
10.Network with local businesses and the
community. Become a community hero,
leading the way in sustainability. Get
press coverage and highlight your
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