How organisations can help Scotland achieve its green targets

All countries and regions will have a part to play if the UK is to succeed in reaching its various environmental targets over the coming decades.

Scotland recently announced what the government described as an "ambitious but realistic" plan to combat climate change, at the heart of which is a goal to reduce emissions by 66 per cent between 2018 and 2023.

So what are the details of these plans, and how can businesses help the country realise its ambitions?

Scotland's bold targets

The new Climate Change Plan is the latest example of a Scottish government initiative designed to put the country on a path to a low-carbon economy, based on sustainable growth. In 2009, Holyrood passed what was reportedly the most ambitious climate change legislation anywhere in the world, targeting a 42 per cent cut in emissions by 2020 and an 80 per cent reduction by 2050.

On track to meet its 2020 target, Scotland has now set out its decarbonisation plans up to 2032, with a focus on energy, heating, building, transport and agriculture.

Specific goals include using renewables to meet half of the country's energy needs by 2030, including across heating and throughout the transport sector. The plan also sets objectives to increase recycling rates to 70 per cent by 2025 and to expand wooded areas from covering 18 per cent of the country (as they do today) to 21 per cent.

Between 2018 and 2032, it is hoped these measures will bring down emissions from electricity by 28 per cent, from buildings by 33 per cent and from transport by 37 per cent.

Announcing the Climate Change Plan, Roseanna Cunningham, Scottish cabinet secretary for environment, climate change and land reform, said the country already has many strengths that it needs to build on to achieve its ambitious goals.

"We have abundant renewable energy resources that - with our careful stewardship - give us huge natural advantages," she said. "We have a strong track record in engineering and technological innovation that we are already building on. The low-carbon and renewable energy sectors now support 49,000 jobs in Scotland."

Ms Cunningham also noted that this plan, along with other documents such as the government's energy strategy, will help to create "the best possible business environment in Scotland, sending a clear signal that Scotland is the place to be for investment in low-carbon and associated technologies".

What can organisations do?

With a big emphasis being placed on the efficiency of heating and buildings, it's clear that all sorts of organisations across Scotland - from private businesses and retail complexes to schools and public institutions - will be instrumental to the country achieving its long-term goals.

On the heating front, there are various actions your organisation can take to ensure you are making the most efficient use of energy and limiting your carbon footprint. Basic steps such as using a timed thermostat to turn off the heating when no-one is in the workplace can deliver big benefits.

Innovative measures such as hybrid ventilation can also help to ensure you are making the most efficient use of your resources and minimising waste. Hybrid systems use a combination of natural and mechanical ventilation to reflect the unique needs of a given space, consequently minimising cost, energy consumption and maintenance requirements.

Natural ventilation with heat recycling offers the benefits of natural ventilation while making the most of internal heat gains (created by occupants and lighting, for example), to create the most comfortable temperature with maximum efficiency.

Scotland's plans also place a big emphasis on sustainable energy. There is a strong chance that, as renewables such as wind and solar power gradually claim a larger share of the overall electricity mix, they will become more affordable and viable for businesses.

In addition to the environmental benefits, embracing renewables can help organisations enjoy greater energy security and reputational advantages.

The long-term project to protect the environment and combat climate change (not only in Scotland, but worldwide) will also depend on organisations engaging their human resources and getting people involved in the mission to be greener.

Combining human effort and determination with physical measures in the built environment could be the key to achieving a sustainable, energy-efficient future.

To learn more about how Breathing Buildings can help your organisation to maximise efficiency in the built environment, email info@breathingbuildings.com or give us a call on 01223 450 060.

Image credit: OlegAlbinsky via iStock