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Sustainability: Getting started

02 October 2007
Sustainability: Getting started

It can be hard to know where to start, but do your homework and plan ahead and you won't go far wrong. Here are some tips to get you going

1. Conduct audits

This will help you to identify key areas. The Carbon Trust (www.carbontrust.co.uk) and Hospitable Climates (www.hospitableclimates.org.uk) can advise on this, while Enviro-wise (www.envirowise.gov.uk) can advise on reducing water waste and offers free on-site resource efficiency reviews.

2. Legal obligations

The websites of Defra and Netregs (www.netregs.gov.uk) are also a good source of information on regulatory issues.

3. Consult your peers

See what other businesses are doing. See www.caterersearch.com/green for case studies.

4. set up a plan

Bodies like Envirowise and Hospitable Climates offer free advice, while the Carbon Trust offers a free service based on its Action Plan tool. And programmes like Stems (steps to environment management systems), the Carbon Trust's Energy Efficiency Accreditation Scheme (EEAS) Forum for the Future's Natural Step Framework (www.forumforthefuture.org.uk) and the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (www.emas.org.uk) all provide useful frameworks.

5. Set goals

Consider aiming for accreditation like BS8555 or ISO14001. This will give you and your staff something to aim for and an indication of your progress.

6. Get staff on side

Without staff involvement your plan will be severely hampered. Explain why you're making changes and encourage staff to contribute ideas. Appoint green champions for each site and provide training and support where necessary.

7. Financial help

The Carbon Trust offers grants and interest-free loans, and the Government offers funding for the installation of low- or zero-carbon technologies (www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk/about). The ECA scheme offers businesses 100% tax relief on green technologies in the first year (www.eca-water.gov.uk, www.eca.gov.uk/etl).

8. Review regularly

Regularly monitor costs for utilities and waste disposal and keep looking for new areas where efficiencies and savings can be made.

9. Benchmark

Compare your progress with the industry. For water and waste, try www.envirowise.gov.uk/water and www.envirowise.gov.uk/waste, and the Hospitable Climates Heat online tool for energy benchmarking (www.hospitableclimates.org.uk). The IBLF's http://www.benchmark hotel.com" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">www.benchmark hotel.com site for hoteliers will relaunch later in the year.

10. Feedback

Let your staff and customers know how and what you're doing. Feed examples into your marketing collateral and promote to customers on your premises and your website. It's all good PR and can help to improve perceptions of the brand among both staff and customers.

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