Sending a smoke signal

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TO MANY businesses, cutting down on carbon emissions may seem a luxury that they cannot afford.

But one organisation based in Leeds is helping them reap the rewards of going greener, proving it can be a benefit rather than a liability.

CO2Sense, set up by Yorkshire Forward and now aiming to become independent, helps businesses reduce their use of resources and recycle waste, cut costs by using less raw materials and producing less waste, and creating the idea of resource efficiency.

CO2Sense is there to help businesses do the right thing, says chief executive Joanne Pollard and director of marketing and brand Rick Hamilton.

Joanne said: “We are asking businesses to come and talk to us if they want help.”

The organisation currently has a £7m budget to do its work for the next two years so there is help available for those that need it. Yorkshire, in particular, was seen as a part of the country which certainly did need help in slashing its carbon output.

Rick said: “Yorkshire Forward had worked out that there is a problem in Yorkshire. Yorkshire produces more carbon than any other area.”

Businesses of all sizes have been helped so far. A Leeds example, says Joanne, is Yorkshire Bank which has been “groundbreaking” in its efforts at energy efficiency. Another example is PEC in Bradford which was helped to develop a system using its own waste wood to heat its premises, thereby making real cost savings.

Joanne said: “A lot of businesses still see carbon as being a cost, something they have to comply with as a cost and a risk.

“By investing in energy-saving measures it’s all going to save you money so it’s not something you should put at the bottom of a priority list.”

Rick added: “The oil situation is causing people a pretty big headache. What was seen as a green and fluffy agenda [energy efficiency and recycling] is a much more real agenda now.

“Firms are realising they could start producing their own energy.”

Joanne added: “I don’t think people have moved away from being green. I think undoubtedly the scandal at the University of East Anglia [where academics’ emails called global warming into question] has not helped but 98 per cent of academics could provide evidence that climate change is happening.

“After recent events such as flash floods, people are starting to see a change and people are having it brought back to the front of their minds.

“Businesses are not allowed to forget because the previous government brought about a lot of legislation around carbon.”

CO2Sense has 40 staff, all in Leeds, with 85 per cent from private sector backgrounds. They are “a real mix of business people, engineers, environmental scientists.”

Joanne said that in Yorkshire and the Humber there are more than £550m of efficiencies that could be made by businesses and because much of the work needing to be done is long-term, firms can work projects into restructured finances. She said: “Businesses do this as an investment.”

CO2Sense has helped and supported more than 500 businesses across the region and aims to help many more. Firms can make big savings and do their bit for the future of the planet. A double whammy.

As Joanne said: “Businesses need to get behind it and be ready to change because that’s where it will make a difference in the end.”

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