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Avoiding the bystander effect in decarbonisation

By Tim Rook, Chief Markets Officer at Clade Engineering Systems

Most organisations have an active desire to tackle climate change and make positive changes within their business practice towards long-term sustainability. Climate initiatives, business grants, and information about renewable energy sources such as commercial heat pumps or solar panel installations are available to all businesses, but many can’t afford them or aren’t aware of their access to them.

Worse still, however, is the potential for organisations to fall prey to what’s known as the bystander effect.

In social psychology, the bystander effect is the idea that where there is an emergency situation, the greater the number of people present, the less likely it is that someone will step up and offer to help. Each will be under the impression that somebody else will take action, thus leading to a combined stance of total inaction.

When we take this idea and place it within the context of the current global climate emergency and the inaction of businesses to decarbonise, it does track. It is understandable as individuals that one might be daunted or overwhelmed by the concept of climate change, and perhaps even question the impact one person can really have just by making sure your recycling goes in the correct box outside your home.

From a business perspective, making a genuine change to any aspect of your operations may present challenges, especially when you consider the short-term potential pain in cost and challenges in traversing the adoption of new methods by staff and customers. Change in any form costs time, resources and cold, hard cash.

There are undoubtedly challenges to the process in the road ahead, but decarbonisation of the commercial sector is certainly achievable, and reaching Net Zero is crucial to our long-term future planet.

One way in which FMs can make a positive step forward and create a more sustainable business practice that doesn’t just pay lip service to decarbonisation is to install commercial heat pumps. Commercial air source heat pumps could be one of the best solutions for commercial properties in the UK in making a difference in the overall Government target of Net Zero 2050.

Heat pumps have the technology to become the low carbon heat provider for both commercial and residential properties in the UK. Significantly reducing carbon footprints and energy bills in the same breath, their positive impact and contribution towards decarbonisation targets can’t be understated. The impact of climate change on us all is here to see around the world. There has been a political focus on reducing carbon emissions for quite some time, and businesses are an integral part of the UKs plans to meet net zero emissions targets by 2050. For businesses, net zero means sustainable services, products that are made from sustainable materials, thorough insulation within workplaces, the promotion of public transport, sustainable distribution and shipping of products, and the use of renewable energy sources.

The benefits of Net Zero to businesses include:

  • Enhance your business reputation – the modern consumer is more likely to become a long-term customer of a brand that works in a genuinely sustainable way with a focus on green credentials.
  • Reduce energy costs – by installing commercial heat pumps, solar panels, or other types of renewable energy sources at your business, you will significantly reduce your energy consumption.
  • Become more attractive to investors – in the way the modern customer is more attracted to a business that operates sustainably, the same can be said about investment opportunities.
  • Stability in process – by adopting electric vehicles or renewable energy sources you can become more self-sufficient and less reliant on sources of power that can be impacted by volatile markets and disruptions.

There has been growing interest in Net Zero from business owners of all shapes and sizes throughout the UK, but there is the bystander effect of not wanting to be the first to make a move, when you can see that there isn’t widespread take-up of renewable energy applications. What really needs to happen is greater influence and incentives from above, aligned with suppliers of renewable energy sources, such as commercial heat pumps and solar power, to help businesses make a significant change that goes a long way towards sustainable business practice.

About Sarah OBeirne

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