SMEs can be sustainable - here's how
Sustainability has become a global conversation, and an issue that is on the agenda of both governments and the public. The region itself will become a focus for sustainability over the coming year, partly owing to the two major COP events taking place in Egypt this year and the UAE next year. Governments within the Gulf have already stated their aims of making their respective economies carbon neutral within the coming decades. While this is welcome, government policy is mainly focused on investing in renewables rather than reducing energy usage. As a nod to the need to get everyone involved, here are a couple of ideas on how you can become more sustainable and reduce how much energy, water and waste you use and produce.
Reduce Your AC Bills
Let's begin with the biggest energy guzzler in your office, namely air conditioning. Air conditioning can account for up to 60 percent of your utility bills in summer. There are some simple steps you can take to reduce your bills and become more environmentally friendly. The easiest thing you can do is set your air conditioning unit to 24 degrees celsius. Second, clean the unit annually. If your air conditioning filters are dirty, the unit will need to use more power to circulate air. Ensure that your office's windows and doors are properly sealed, so that you don't lose cold air to the outside. And, if you want to go the extra mile, install smart thermostats. These devices can adapt temperatures automatically and reduce your energy costs by up to 10 percent over the course of a year.
Minimize your Mileage
Another sizable cost, both in terms of spending and carbon emissions, is transportation. Even though gasoline costs are lower for much of the Gulf, the price of petrol in certain countries has had a noticeable effect on inflation and people's take-home pay. There are a couple of steps you can take here. First is to provide employees with a public transport allowance where possible (Dubai's Metro is one example), to help them get from their home to the office without the need for a car. Another option is to go electric. While electric vehicles are expensive, costs will come down rapidly, and their overall cost of ownership can be much lower than combustion-engine vehicles. A better option may be electric bikes, which are much cheaper than electric cars and can be recharged more quickly. One obvious idea for SMEs is to introduce a work-from-home policy, where employees get to spend at least one day working from home.
Get Rid of the Paper
A third area to think about is office supplies, in particular paper and printing. Partly owing to the pandemic, the concept of going paperless has become more mainstream. Think about going paperless by switching from paper printing to using applications such as Adobe Acrobat and using cloud-based services to share documentation. A simple tip is to move the printer farther away from your staff, meaning they will have to walk farther to get their print-outs.
These tips are just the beginning of the journey to becoming more sustainable. My hope is that governments will begin funding these ideas and provide incentives for SMEs to become greener. Your customers may also begin asking about your green policies. Use sustainability to your advantage to reduce costs and win more business. Let's all play our role to make our societies greener and more sustainable.
About the author
Alex Malouf is the Board member of PRCA MENA. Named as the first communications innovator in the MEA region by the Holmes Report and a Rising Star and future Chief Communications/Marketing Officer by PRovoke Media, Alex is the only Chartered Communicator, Chartered Marketer, and Senior Communication Management Professional in the Middle East, Africa and Iran who is passionate about transforming marketing, media and communications and leading the industry, through my work and volunteering.