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Sustainability Starter Kit

Scotland has pledged to produce Net Zero emissions by 2045, with legislation and commitments changing to continuously regulate current emissions the journey to net zero may seem overwhelming and complex for businesses. Invest in West Lothian have created this sustainability tool to help you understand and explore a range of topics that will explain sustainable changes you can make from simple day-to-day operational changes to longer term investments and policies.

Remember all positive climate action matters it is in the best interests of your business to get ahead of the curve and make sustainable changes now to ensure future resilience and success.

Reduce Emmissions

Renewable Sources

Switching to a renewable energy source could improve your businesses self-sufficiency, improving resilience for the future.

  • Solar power
    • Solar panels
    • Solar tiles
    • Solar bollards
  • On-site compact wind turbines
  • Geothermal & air source heat pumps 
  • Tidal & hydro turbines
  • Excess generated energy can be sold back to the grid

Energy Usage

Changing how your business uses energy could not only reduce your emissions and increase your efficiency, it could reduce your energy costs.

  • Switch to a green tariff from a renewable energy provider
  • Consider energy capture technology to harness energy from fans, motors and other motion output equipment 
  • Implement heat capture technology to recycle heat generated by equipment & machinery
  • Switch to electric heating systems
  • Upgrade existing heat/cooling systems to newer models
  • Buy carbon credits to offset excess emissions

Computers & IT

Below are some simple changes your business could incorporate to better manage IT associated emissions.

  • Shutdown procedures for non-working hours
  • Efficient storage management by deleting unnecessary files
  • Sourcing a green website/IT services provider


Lighting can be a major source of energy usage, improving how your business lights its premises could save you emissions and money. Consider the following: 

  • Install energy efficient lightbulbs e.g. LED
  • Skylights and windows to allow in natural sunlight
  • Automatic timers & dimmers
  • Motion activated systems


Look to reduce emissions across the entire scope of your business. 

  • Half–flush option lavatories
  • Sustainable canteen options
    • Plant based options
    • Local, seasonal produce
    • Low energy hot water urns instead of kettles
  • High speed air hand dryers
  • Wide range of recycling bins in canteen/break area

Below are some additional steps to efficiently control conditions within your business beyond the usage of heating/cooling systems.

  • Provide staff uniform/PPE for different climate conditions to reduce heating/cooling system usage
  • Automatic timers and shut offs for thermostat controls
  • Additional doors/barriers to section buildings
  • Auto-closing doors

Below shows the estimated distribution of heat loss in a standard uninsulated domestic property, consider how this may apply to your businesses premises.

  • Walls - 33% heat loss
  • Roofing - 26% heat loss
  • Windows - 18% heat loss
  • Draughts - 12% heat loss
  • Floors - 8% heat loss
  • Doors - 3% heat loss

Below is a range of insulative measures to reduce the energy usage in your business associated with temperature control. 

  • Window glazing & tinting
  • Cavity insulation
  • Solid wall insulation
  • Draughtproofing
  • Internal/External walling for single walled structures
  • Roof insulation
  • Floor insulation
  • Under-floor insulation
  • External & Internal painting


Commonly overlooked, waste can be a source of income to your business when identified as a resource. Consider common business wastes such as cardboard, paper, plastic, wood & other packaging, there is an almost constant demand for these resources.
Consider any by-products and current wastes produced by your business, investigate the potential uses for these resources or alternative paths away from waste processing and landfill. 


Food, plant material and decomposable wastes can be sold or donated down the following paths, avoiding landfill:

  • Food charities and food repurposing schemes
  • Animal feed
    • Zoos, charities, shelters & rehoming organisations
    • Commercial animal feed manufacturers
  • Anaerobic respirators 
  • Cosmetics
  • Biofuels synthesis
  • Fertilizer production
  • Composting
    • At a facility
    • On-site
    • Staff take home


Some other business wastes may have the potential to be diverted to:

  • Other Manufacturers
  • Construction
  • Original manufacturer
  • Private individuals
  • Non-profits
  • Specialist Processors

The circular economy model is one where wastes including used, broken & redundant items at the end of their lifecycle are reintroduced back into ta different stage of a product lifecycle. The model aims to eliminate waste and the use of finite resources via:

  • Repurposing
  • Returning
  • Recycling
  • Reusing
  • Repairing

Consider how his model could be implemented in your business. Could you incorporate any of the above into your business for your products or services?


Reducing the amount of packaging used within your business has many benefits including reduced emissions, reduced costs and more efficient transportation.

  • Invest in reusable/durable versions of single use/short life packaging such as boxes, containers, bottles and crates
  • Reuse items
    • Bubble wrap
    • Cardboard Boxes
    • Wrapping


Some waste materials may be useful to your business at another time. 

  • For repair purposes
  • For spare parts & alterations
  • For staff training purposes

Listed below are some methods of reducing your businesses water usage:

  • Automatic/push operated taps instead of twist/lever taps
  • Onsite water treatment recycling facilities
  • Rain water collection systems for grey water usage
  • Grey water recycling systems
  • Non-water intensive cleaning techniques

Here are some other initiatives to consider to reduce waste produced by your business:

  • Regular maintenance of equipment and machinery
  • Trained staff for maintenance and repair services
  • Quality Assurance systems to identify faulty processes quickly
  • Staff training on the appropriate receptacles and segregation of wastes for recycling and processing

Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles present a greener alternative to fossil fuel vehicles. Consider the following:

  • Switching to electric company vehicles
  • Electric bikes for staff commuting/site travel
  • Electric forklifts & other in-house vehicles
  • Potential financial incentives and support may available from external organisations
  • Legislation and regulations are constantly changing to encourage EV usage, be ahead of the curve

Charging Points

Installing EV charging points within your businesses premises could have the following benefits:

  • Encourage staff to purchase EVs
  • Potential installation incentives & support
  • Potential source of income from staff & public usage

Encouraging your staff to reduce the carbon footprint of their commutes to work will reduce your businesses scope 3 emissions and can be associated with mental, physical and social benefits.

  • Allow work from home opportunities where possible, consider a travel hierarchy to identify work from home opportunities
  • Introduce a cycle to work scheme
  • Consider a company bus scheme
  • Set up communication channels to allow employees to organise
    • Walking bus schemes
    • Car pool schemes
  • Introduce travel incentives - rail cards, bus passes, public travel reimbursement

Further scope 3 emission reductions can be achieved by considering the following when choosing transport contractors for your business.

  • Use local contractors to reduce transport mileage
  • Use low-carbon alternatives
    • Electric vehicles
    • Rail
    • Shipping
    • Biofuel operated
  • Check the green credentials of contractors
    • ISO, PAS or other recognised certifications
    • Environmental polices or pledges
    • Appropriate and in-date licences for the relevant loads i.e special wastes.

Improving the efficiency of your transport can reduce emissions whilst saving your business time, effort and money.

  • Reduce packaging for lighter, more space efficient loads
  • Maximise planning system efficiency to ensure only full capacity loads & minimal transport frequency 
  • Schedule to ensure waste receptacles are emptied only when full
  • Incorporate efficient stock management systems to eliminate excess deliveries

Keeping your staff adequately trained can have many significant positive impacts within your business. Here are some potential training topics to ensure your staff an knowledgeable, confident and engaged with your businesses sustainability objectives.

  • Climate change causes and consequences
  • Environmental Policies & Pledges
  • Current green credentials
  • Ongoing projects
  • Future environmental sustainability goals and targets
  • Waste segregation and receptacles for recycling & reusing
  • Water management
  • Green Champions
  • ISO standards
    • 14001 - Environmental
      Management Systems
    • 50001 - Energy Management Systems
    • 9001 - Quality Management
  • PAS standards
    • 2050 - Product GHG Emissions
    • 2060 - Carbon Neutrality
    • 2035 -Building Retrofitting

Providing incentives to encourage your staff to incorporate sustainable changes into their work can have lasting long-term benefits as well as reducing your business emissions. 

  • Provide work from home flexibility where possible. Consider creating a travel hierarchy to identify work home options.
  • Provide high quality, condition appropriate uniform/PPE
  • Offer financial incentives for Green Champion roles
  • Introduce green causes/charities support schemes i.e annual volunteering, fundraising, profit sharing
  • Support cycle to work schemes
  • Consider a company bus scheme
  • Set up communication channels to allow employees to organise
    • Walking bus schemes
    • Car pool schemes
  • Offer rail/bus passes or reimbursement for public transport
  • Company electric bikes for commuting or site travel
  • Incorporate electric vehicle purchasing schemes
  • Install electric vehicle charging points

The following can all be introduced to promote sustainability within your business: 

  • Decarbonised Pensions - Identify the source of your businesses pension fund and switch to a decarbonised alternative
  • Challenges & Competitions
  • Updating and rewarding staff on successful projects
  • Ideas, suggestions & feedback schemes
  • Business social media presence
  • High promotion of green credentials

For further support, information and resources on all the topics covered in this tool, check out the resources below. 

Zero Waste Scotland

For information and support on:
Recycling & Waste Disposal
Circular Economy
Carbon Metrics

Net Zero Nation (Formerly Net Zero Scotland)

For information and support on:
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Electric Vehicles & Transport
Greenspaces & Nature
Consumer Behaviour

Home Energy Scotland

For information and support on:
Energy Efficiency & Insulation
Sustainable Technology

Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA)

For information and support on:
Legal Compliance
Waste & Pollution
News, Updates & Reporting

The Carbon Trust

For information and support on:
Carbon Footprints & Calculations
Industry Standards and Certification
Environmental Management Plans & Policies

Scottish Water

For information and support on:
Water Supply & Efficiency
Waste Water & Pollution
Legal Compliance

The Green Recovery

For information and support on:
Pandemic Recovery
Skills Development & Recruitment

The SME Climate Hub

For information and support on:
Green Business Strategies
Supply Chains & Scope 3 Emissions

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