Buckinghamshire Business First is a business-led and business-first community, founded in 2010 to provide members with knowledge, support, and opportunities for growth. Throughout the last decade, we have helped businesses to embrace sustainability in ways that support the environment and their ongoing success.
COP 26 highlighted the need for everyone in society to take action to reduce their impact on the environment. We believe that to support this message, we have to lead by example – BBF is already a carbon-neutral Growth Hub and we have signed a pledge to reach net-zero by 2050 through the United Nations Race to Zero campaign.
We have a Collaboration Circle for local businesses to pool knowledge and share ideas, we have encouraged local businesses to make a climate pledge and asked them to plant a tree alongside the community, and we provide tailored advice to make each business greener.
We also work across the business community to improve efficiency and reduce waste – including helping SMEs to increase their energy efficiency through our Low Carbon Workspaces Grants. In addition, BBF has worked with partners to deliver grants for sustainable travel and eco-innovations, supported rural businesses to deliver sustainable food production and farming initiatives, and worked with the Forestry Commission to deliver Woodland Improvement Grants.
It’s very important that the business community comes together to lead and support sustainable change. In 2019, we held a Net Zero Summit to enthuse and inspire local leaders, and we hold regular events to provide support and advice. We have launched a Buckinghamshire Business First Net Zero Collaboration Circle supported by online resources as well as delivering a recent workshop on sustainability for businesses advisors and a peer-to-peer programme for local leaders. BBF works with businesses of all shapes and sizes, and we have even embedded a low carbon module in our 'Be Your Own Boss' start-up workshops
We are proud to be one of 38 Growth Hubs in the UK and to be part of the UN’s Race to Zero. As a Growth Hub, we are a key resource for businesses across the area, and we must ensure that sustainability is central to the conversations we have. A climate-conscious approach is not only the right thing for the environment, we believe it’s great for an organisation’s bottom line and ongoing success.
*We have saved an impressive 837,000 tonnes of CO2 across a number of European Regional Development Fund Projects, including Eco Innovation, Sustainable Routes, and Low Carbon Workspaces plus Woodland Improvement Grants which were funded by Rural Development Programme for England via the Forestry Commission.
Lead by example – The actions we are asking businesses to take are voluntary, and it can be hard to get started and make meaningful changes. By talking to businesses about our journey and the challenges we faced, we can provide realistic insights and support that help them to take those first steps. It can feel like small changes make a limited difference, but if we make them together they can have a huge impact.
Appoint a low-carbon champion – It’s really important to have a go-to person who can act not only as a low-carbon advocate internally but also for external stakeholders and partners. There is so much support out there around the low-carbon agenda but business leaders are time-poor, so we need translators and guides to help us lead the way.