Bee Net Zero

Why an energy crisis isn’t the right time for businesses to de-prioritise net-zero delivery

  • Monday, December 5, 2022
  • Posted By The Growth Company

A survey of energy and sustainability managers at 148 organisations, conducted by edie, has found that one-fifth are having to de-prioritise work related to the net-zero transition due to the current economic crisis. But are they right to do so, or could prioritising net-zero transitions be a more effective long-term solution?


This finding is a headline takeaway from edie’s latest Net-Zero Business Barometer, which was published in partnership with Inspired Energy PLC. It summarises the results of an exclusive survey conducted online which ran through September and early October 2022.

With wholesale energy prices still at an all-time high, edie posed several questions to survey respondents themed around how the current economic situation in the UK is impacting net-zero ambitions and practicalities in delivering these initiatives.


The survey found that 75% of respondents believe that the energy price crisis has had at least a ‘moderate’ impact on their employer’s ability to develop and deliver strategies for reducing emissions. 


For many, the impact is that there simply is not enough cash flow or resources to deliver commitments. One-fifth of respondents agreed that their organisation is being forced to de-prioritise work relating to the net-zero transition due to rising costs. While a further 11% said their organisation is more likely to miss its decarbonisation targets because of cost squeezes.


However, it’s not all bad news. For others, the impact was that the energy price crisis is an accelerator, with organisations choosing to speed up efforts relating to efficiency and clean energy procurement. 


24% of respondents said their organisation is going further and faster to decarbonise due to the energy price crisis. Six in 10 said their organisation has “heightened” work on energy efficiency, while more than half (56%) said their employer is installing or exploring decentralised energy generation. These steps can help reduce the amount of gas and gas-fired electricity that an organisation consumes, which means cutting energy costs and carbon emissions.


The majority of respondents also said that their organisation is likely to invest in behaviour change for sustainability in the next 12 months which can also be a low-cost step to reducing emissions and energy bills. 49% said this is either a ‘high’ priority or a ‘business-critical’ priority, showcasing the impact employee engagement can have.


So, why should your business be accelerating net-zero ambitions if you are to overcome the energy crisis?


Working towards net zero is a long-term solution for problems such as energy security, heightened energy bills and more. It’s not an instant fix but the results will be long-lasting. While many net-zero technologies like installing solar PV require a costly initial outlay, it could save businesses a significant amount of money for years to come as well as prepare them for success in a net-zero future. The world is changing rapidly, and businesses need to move with it if they wish to succeed.


Research shows that the right mix of onsite renewables and improved energy efficiency could save businesses up to 60% on their energy bills. While a new Cebr report discovered businesses could collectively save around £720m in energy annually if they made energy efficiency improvements. 


Investing in energy efficiency measures such as LED bulbs and lighting controls should be a business’s first step on the journey to net zero as they are less expensive to implement and can provide paybacks in under one year. Energy optimisation reduces costs and emissions while increasing productivity and environmental quality in the workplace leading to happier and healthier employees, through optimising working temperatures and more comfortable office spaces, so it’s a win-win.


Energy efficiency provides the tools we need to decarbonise as well as to reduce energy bills from the get-go. We can implement many of these changes quickly today and have the power to change tomorrow.


Engaging employees and educating them on how to become more energy efficient is also a cost-effective way of helping to achieve energy efficiency goals, as you’ll be surprised what a huge difference small steps like unplugging laptops and boiling less water can make. Plus, having a clear plan in place to reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency will help you to attract environmentally conscious talent, improving your credentials as a potential employer.


While taking steps to invest in on-site electricity generation is a more expensive step to take, it could reduce grid-supplied energy costs by up to 60%. While not every business can manage this right now, with rising prices, the business case for on-site renewables has never been so compelling.


There’s also a sense of urgency around this. Businesses claim that cash flow and lack of support are barriers to implementing net-zero technologies during this energy crisis, but government support for businesses to help cover rising energy costs will end after March 2023. This means that energy bills could rise more. To secure survival after this deadline, businesses must act now to become more energy efficient and energy bills. Therefore, accelerating net-zero ambitions should be a priority for all right now.


How can Bee Net Zero help?


Bee Net Zero is a partnership working across Greater Manchester to help businesses on the journey to net zero and subsequently reduce their energy costs. Made up of a combination of Greater Manchester business networks, local authorities, transport providers, energy providers and green initiatives, Bee Net Zero aims to make Greater Manchester the easiest place to become net zero through trusted guidance. 


The partnership offers free impartial advice on everything from implementing energy efficiency measures to installing EV charging networks for your vehicle fleet. It can help engage employees with net zero ambitions as well as help businesses at the beginning of their journey to create targets and a plan of action.


Bee Net Zero offers guidance to businesses of all sizes and in all sectors across Greater Manchester hoping to reduce their carbon emissions and energy bills.


To learn more about how the partnership can help your Greater Manchester business on the journey to net zero and throughout the energy crisis, contact the team.


Click here to download a copy of the Barometer report.