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What businesses can do to tackle the Climate Emergency

We’ve put together a simple guide to help you reduce your carbon footprint, make a difference to the local community, the planet and even your running costs.
Energy and lighting

The cost of energy has been rising since 1990. A very simple way of reducing your carbon emissions is to reduce your energy bills – therefore, also making savings.

First steps:

  • Look over your energy bills and see how you could reduce them. For example, you could make changes to your workplace or train your staff to be more energy efficient at work.
  • Submit regular metre readings instead of relying on estimates. This means you will be paying more accurate bills that reflect how much energy you’re using, which will help you keep track of whether the changes you’re making are having an impact. Alternatively, you could get a smart meter installed to avoid having to manually provide metre readings, improving the accuracy of your bills even more.
  • Keep track of how much energy you use by taking weekly readings or check the smart meter(s) regularly to identify times when your energy use is at its highest and lowest.
  • Check how much energy you use overnight by reading your meters at closing and opening times.
  • Switch to a renewable energy tariff if you are not already on one. The Big Clean Switch can you help your business to change tariff with no hassle, whilst also providing a guide to trustworthy and green-wash free suppliers.

Different light bulbs use different amounts of energy. The more heat they give off, the more energy they’re using. Old light bulbs are usually less energy efficient than newer ones. 

Some switch suggestions:

  • Replace 27W T8 strip lights with 16W T5 adaptors – saving 40% in lighting costs (£25 per lamp, including installation). T5 adaptors also don’t flicker and are lower maintenance.
  • Replace 50W Halogen bulbs with 6W or 7W LED bulbs – saving 85% in lighting costs (£12 per bulb – lasting 25 years each) or with 9W CFL bulbs – saving 80% in lighting costs (£6 per bulb).
  • Replace T8 lighting panels with LED panels – saving 70% in light costs (starting at £100 per fitting, plus installation costs).

Lighting control:

Using a sensor-powered light rather than a light switch can save you energy and costs:

  • Consider installing motion sensors (PIR – Passive Infra-Red) – these detect movement and turn the lights on, saving 10-30% on lighting costs 
  • Consider installing photo sensors, which detect daylight
  • Consider installing a lighting timer – that way lights will turn off during non-operating hours, such as at nighttime.  

Lighting demand:

  • Consider whether your business could operate without electric lighting, for example with daylight only. If not, could the lights be turned off just on sunny days
  • Could you make better use of the natural light in the spaces you use, to avoid having to switch on lights?
  • Train staff to switch off lights when not in use.
Water and heating


The availability of clean water is often taken for granted, and due to the increased volatility of water supply as a result of droughts, it is even more important to ensure that we reduce the amount that is used. Saving water also saves money and reduces your carbon footprint. 

Thames Water -Try out Thames Water’s business water saving calculator.

WWF Water Risk Filter - A free online tool to assess your water related business risks.


Heating can be the greatest use of energy for a business. By being more strategic with your heating, you can not only reduce your carbon emissions, but also save money on heating bills. Here’s some simple ways to improve how efficient your heating system is:

Switch to a heat pump or upgrade your gas boiler

Although gas boilers are common, there are alternatives that run on electricity only and are more energy efficient, therefore reducing emissions and saving  you money.

If you have a gas boiler, consider changing to a heat pump. Heat pumps are over three times more energy efficient, so they could save you money, too. Find out more about heat pumps.

Alternatively, you could upgrade your boiler - which will also save you money as it will likely be more efficient.

  • You might be able to get funding from the Government to help you upgrade your boiler, as part of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

Install a thermostat

Installing a thermostat can decrease heating costs by 10%. It will cost around £100, plus an additional installation cost. Reducing your heating by just 1°C can cut your heating costs by 8%.

Insulate your building or workplace

The most financially efficient measure to take is to insulate your building to reduce the need to heat. The usual areas to insulate are:

  • walls
  • roofs
  • floors
  • pipes

Other measures that can help reduce heating demand are:

  • draught-proofing
  • installing radiator panels

These can help you save around 8% on heating costs. It costs around £20 for 10 radiator panels.

Find out how to dispose of your appliances if you do decide to replace them.

Find more information on emergency efficiency for SMEs (Small and Medium sized Enterprises) on the government website.

The cost of living crisis has meant that using energy for electricity, heating and cooling is all more expensive. If you or your business are struggling at this time, please refer to some of the support we have available.

Electrical appliances and IT equipment

IT equipment alone accounts for 15% of office energy use. Like lighting, the age of the electronic equipment often reflects how energy efficient it is.

Check the energy labels to find out how energy efficient the appliance is. A+++ is the highest rating and means it is very energy efficient, and G is the lowest rating.

  • Consider upgrading equipment for energy efficient models, if possible.
  • Consider using laptops instead of desktops as they use 85% less electricity per year.

Energy demand of appliances

Although putting a device on standby uses a lot less energy than when in use, the energy cost can build up over time, especially when you have multiple appliances. For example, just having the internet means you might have devices like broadband modems, routers, smart speakers, digi-boxes, and telephones. If you’re having these on for 24 hours a day, they can consume a lot of electricity over time.

  • Avoid leaving appliances on standby, especially at night – either switch them off or consider buying a standby saver. Some come with timers and others come with a single off-switch.
  • Try and place large printers near windows to lessen heat gains and reduce cooling.


If your business has air conditioning, it is worth finding out if it provides heating as well. Air conditioning units are more energy efficient at heating than other heating sources, so this could save you money.

  • Check that it is on the correct setting – (between 22-24°C is recommended).
  • Consider whether you need the air conditioning unit on all year round.
  • Try setting it to 'fan only' on warm days.
  • If it gets serviced, ask the engineer if they can install a deadband. A deadband is a temperature range in which neither the heating nor cooling system turns on.
  • Consider relaxing the dress code during the summer months.
  • Keep the windows shut when the air conditioning is on.
  • If planning to use it for heating, ensure your building is insulated and not draughty.

Use sustainable web hosting services

Data servers use a lot of energy as they always need to be switched on and kept cool. They are often housed in warehouses that are powered by fossil fuels. This means that, if your business has its own, it’s likely to be emitting carbon.

Not to worry, though – you can now purchase sustainable hosting services that use renewable energy instead. Find out more about these more environmentally friendly digital options.

Waste reduction

Depending on the type of business you run, the amount of waste that you produce might vary considerably.

Find out how businesses can dispose of waste responsibly and safely.

For more mainstream rubbish and recycling items, like general waste and plastic bottles, paper, and glass, it’s a good idea to:

  • ensure your bins are labelled clearly and correctly
  • locate bins in strategic locations to avoid littering
  • ensure recycling bins outnumber general waste
  • reduce the number of bins in your workplace overall to ensure throwing something away is a conscious choice

See our A-Z of recycling for information about what to recycle and where.


Staff commutes and work-related travel can have a direct impact on carbon emissions. However, travelling doesn’t have to be harmful to the planet. Here are some top tips to make work-related travelling greener:

Support staff to walk, cycle or use public transport or car shares

Travelling by car causes air pollution and contributes to climate change, and road danger. There are alternatives such as public transport and cycling and walking that also have co-benefits such as keeping you fit and saving you money, considering the Congestion and ULEZ charges. Consider encouraging your staff to travel actively if possible or take public transport.

For staff members who need to drive, you could also consider setting up a lift share scheme to reduce the number of cars coming to your place of work. This has the added benefit of saving your employees money and improving staff retention. Find out more.

Company vehicles

If you have company vehicles, consider changing them for electric vehicles.

We’ve rolled out 100 electric vehicle charging points over the past few years – with more planned this year. To suggest for an EV charger near you, please email electricalvehicles@lewisham.gov.uk.


If your business is involved in deliveries, you could consider using a cargo bike or an electric cargo bike. These zero emission bikes deliver about 60% faster than delivery vans – and they’re also much cheaper to run.

Lewisham businesses can now borrow an e-cargo bike for 2-3 months for free, as part of a partnership with London Cycling Campaign. There are only two bikes available though so get in there quick if you are interested.

Please see the Business Cargo Bike Guide for more information about using a cargo bike as a business.

You can also now hire a business cargo, e-cargo bike, or trailer with our Try Before You Bike scheme, which allows you to try out a bike for a monthly fee. If you like it, you can buy it at a discounted price or pay monthly until you own it.

If your staff simply need to get around during the working day but don’t need to move any large stock or equipment around, you could hire bikes or e-bikes for business or delivery riders through the same
scheme. You can hire for up to six months, and if you like the bike, you can buy it later.

You could also consider video conferencing on Microsoft Teams or Zoom instead of travelling to external meetings - saving time, too!

There’s also a range of services that the Council offers, which could support your staff to travel to work more sustainably, including:

See the Lewisham guide to cycling safely.

Staff engagement

There are lots of ways that you can get staff involved in making your business greener and ensure that they’re involved in changes from the start. You could:

  • nominate an environmental champion who can support colleagues to be more climate-friendly
  • encourage staff to reduce their meat and dairy intake. If you have a canteen, you could introduce more vegan options or have a 'meat free Monday'
  • start a reading group at work focused on environmental issues. Here’s a list of some great climate-related books
  • measure individual climate impact in your workplace. You can do this using the web platform Giki Zero, which gives you tips for how to reduce your climate footprint.

You could consider taking part in Carbon Literacy training or doing a free short course, if you’re a larger business.

Certification, consultancies and funding

There are many companies and initiatives out there to help businesses reduce their carbon footprint and provide other support and advice, as well as take you through a step-by-step process to reach an accreditation level. Accreditation can be useful for businesses looking to work more proactively on their environmental impact and boost their green credentials with customers. Below are some examples of initiatives and companies that offer support in a variety of ways to businesses looking to reduce their environmental impact.

  • Better Futures+ - Get free support including webinars and workshops (to be eligible your business must employ between 2 and 249 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) staff and generate revenue between £100k and £43m)
  • SME Climate Hub – make a pledge and take advantage of support offered
  • Carbon Trust – corporate sustainability
  • Greenmark – sustainability certification
  • Carbon Disclosure Project – Report on your company’s carbon emissions


See the government guidance on sustainable procurement


The above may feel overwhelming, but the good news is there is some funding to help you.

In today's competitive business environment, successful businesses are those making efficient use of energy and resources, driving their costs down. 

We provide support and advice to businesses who are making a commitment to improving their environmental performance and tackling climate change.

Enhanced Capital Allowance

The Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) was introduced in 2001 to encourage businesses to invest in low-carbon, energy-saving equipment. The scheme provides 100% first-year capital allowances on investments in energy-saving equipment against taxable profits of the period of investment.

Salix Finance

Salix Finance provides interest free funding for UK public sector organisations to accelerate investment in energy efficiency technologies.

Banks also provide finance for projects to reduce energy consumption as part of their normal corporate lending. Contact your bank for more information.

Mayor of London’s Energy Efficiency Fund (MEEF)

The Mayor of London's Energy Efficiency Fund (MEEF) is a £500m investment fund to deliver the low carbon, sustainable projects and infrastructure London needs to tackle the climate emergency. Open to the public and private sector. Applications for MEEF funding can be made until May 2024, subject to availability of funds. Please contact MEEFinfo@amberinfrastructure.com for further information.

For any queries about the above please email business@lewisham.gov.uk and/or climate@lewisham.gov.uk.