Streamlined Energy & Carbon Reporting (SECR) – which requires large businesses to record their energy and carbon usage through their annual report – provides an ideal platform for businesses to showcase the improvements they are making on sustainability.

For many businesses, just complying with energy and carbon reporting requirements can be demanding enough.

And now, with the UK government having legislated a target to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the resultant rise in expectations on companies from investors, customers and employees to improve their commitment to sustainability has only added to the pressures of environmental responsibility.

Whilst this is clearly a challenge for businesses, it is one where the most forward-thinking of organisations can leverage great insight into their overall strategy for energy and carbon reduction. These organisations won’t just comply with requirements like SECR, they will go above and beyond their reporting obligations to seize the opportunities that actual energy and carbon reduction can bring, from lowering costs to building operational resilience and a better brand reputation.

Ultimately, these businesses realise that going the extra mile to decarbonise now will mean a more sustainable, more appealing, and more competitive organisation in the long run.

Nevertheless, reporting obligations like SECR may still be regarded an administrative inconvenience by some businesses, and it’s true that organisations can be required to allocate substantial resources just to meet these legal commitments. Therefore, the idea of employing extra resources to do more than just comply may, on the face of it, seem unattractive.

However, at SMS, our mission is to help businesses see the whole picture around environmental compliance. By investing in sustainable measures that can be identified through reporting your energy and carbon consumption, rather than treating SECR as a box to be ticked, then organisations stand to benefit from a whole range of competitive advantages.

Show stakeholders you’re taking sustainability seriously

Shifting public opinion and changing government legislation mean that it’s not only customers who now demand businesses to be eco-friendlier. Indeed BlackRock, one of the world’s largest asset managers, recently made sustainability its new priority standard for investing in organisations. This in consideration, acting sustainably is becoming a defining factor in a company’s future commercial viability.

SECR – which requires large businesses to report their energy and carbon usage through their annual report – provides an ideal platform for businesses to show the improvements that they are making on this front. If CSR or ESG are priorities for your organisation, then SECR is also an opportunity to make real noise about it. However, solely complying with SECR could also backfire, as the regulation only requires you to record consumption, not actually reduce it. Therefore, if you haven’t taken steps to moderate your usage through energy efficiency projects during the year, then your business’ inaction on the environment will be glaring for all to see.

As well as external stakeholders, SECR aims to raise awareness and understanding your business’ energy use amongst key internal decision makers, with the report requiring board-level sign off. While energy managers can often find it difficult to get high-level executive engagement around energy consumption, the very public nature of SECR (and therefore the very real threat of reputational damage if action is not taken to reduce the company’s carbon impact) is an opportunity to really grab the attention of directors and communicate the seriousness of sustainability.

The need for energy managers to create a clear, thorough and transparent process around SECR for the executives involved in creating or signing off the Director’s Report, provides the chance to demonstrate this and clearly lay out the financial impact of energy on company accounts, therefore further helping make the case for investment in energy-saving projects that may have been identified.

Reap the rewards of lower consumption

Energy efficiency and carbon reduction isn’t only a great way to enhance your business’ reputation in our increasingly environmentally conscious society, it can also help build resilience and boost your bottom line in an increasingly resource-stretched world. The crux of the matter is, by saving energy through implementing efficiency projects – be those behavioural measures or through investing in physical assets like smart controls and low-carbon technologies – your organisation is ultimately going to save money as well. Whilst payback for these measures can vary depending on the projects’ complexity, creating a cost-cutting pipeline can make for the most compelling of business cases.

In an energy market which has become gradually more volatile, including an inevitable rise in costs for many businesses due to the growing non-commodity element of energy bills, energy efficiency provides a safe bet in protecting your organisation from risk and ensuring you’re not adding to these costs unnecessarily. Going beyond compliance with SECR, therefore, can turn your energy and carbon reporting requirements from just another business expenditure or burden on resources, into an investment that can safeguard the wellbeing of your company long into the future.

Build your energy strategy and pave the way to net zero

Even just to comply with SECR, a business is required to perform robust data collection and calculation from all aspects of energy and carbon usage around the entire organisation. With all this valuable data at your disposal, all the right ingredients are already there to build a comprehensive energy and carbon strategy. Why squander this golden opportunity and the investment already made to gather this data?

Having a strategy in place means that measuring energy consumption is no longer just an annual reporting requirement, but a commitment to perennially tracking and analysing energy performance to identify and pursue areas for optimisation. By working with a trusted energy partner, you’ll not only be provided with the necessary analytical expertise to achieve this, but the knowledge, advice and resources to shape, deliver and manage your projects and make carbon reduction a continuous reality.

At SMS, we count on 25 years working with UK business in energy and carbon reduction to build bespoke zero-carbon energy strategies through our data-driven services. By providing innovative energy and engineering solutions to deliver turnkey projects, including the design, installation and management of smart energy systems, we can work with your business to embrace the opportunities of environmental sustainability, from cost reduction and risk mitigation to building resilience and brand reputation. What’s more, our ability to fund low-carbon energy assets makes us a partner of choice to deliver a net-zero future.

If you want to go beyond environmental compliance and partner with us to decarbonise your business, contact us directly at 02920 893 882 or leave your details and we’ll get back to you.