Connecting SMEs for a green economy

Investors in the Environment: Environmental management for SMEs

iiE Yorkshire and Humber's picture

An affordable, not-for-profit environmental management system and membership scheme designed for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Investors in the Environment (iiE) is a not-for-profit environmental accreditation scheme designed to help the business and SME sector save money and reduce its impact on the environment.

All the help, support, promotion and networking needed to get a business started and ensure recognition for its green efforts is provided. In addition to the accreditation, iiE membership includes educational seminars, e-newsletters, networking and idea-sharing events, business promotion opportunities, access to a resource library and green directory, and an annual awards event.

Yorkshire Energy Partnership took on the management of iiE for the Yorkshire and Humber area and decided to work towards the accreditation ourselves. We don’t have the resources to achieve ISO14001, but iiE is specifically designed for SMEs and provides a great framework for making environmental improvements.

Implementing iiE is a five stage process starting with the creation of an Environmental Policy which is signed by our CEO and displayed on our website.
We then measured our environmental impacts and resource use. Being in a managed office, we cannot measure gas, electricity and water, but that has not stopped us from setting targets to minimise their use; from switching off monitors overnight to making sure the heating is not on too high. We do what we can, and we have also involved our landlords by convincing them to draught proof our office, look at when they switch on the heating, and offer more recycling options to all their tenants.

Investors in the Environment is flexible, so instead of gas, electricity and water we measure paper, printing, fuel and non-recyclable waste. Having set our baseline, we were able to set targets and write an action plan to achieve those targets. Thus, we now have a clear idea of what we need to do and when. This includes a travel plan which helps our employees to decide how to travel using our travel hierarchy where walking, cycling and public transport must all be considered before using the car. We are also encouraging people not to travel at all and to use video conferencing instead.

Of course, plans are great, but if the staff are not on board we will not achieve our targets. We have involved our staff at every stage; we have established our priorities together, agreed on our targets and appointed two “green champions”. The green champions keep us all on our toes and focussed on what we need to do; they also report back regularly on our progress.

Being able to network with other iiE members to share our experiences and ideas really helps to keep us motivated and find new ideas to implement each year. For example, we plant a tree for every new referral we get, an idea we adopted from another member.

So far iiE has seen great success across Yorkshire and the Humber, with at least 13 SMEs achieving accreditation and 5 SMEs (Environmental Strategies Limited, Pennine Pack, Leeds Environmental Design Associates, Numerical Therapy, Environmental Monitoring Solutions) achieving the top 'Green Level' rating.

Further details

How was the green solution financed?: 
Would you characterize the green solution as: 
Medium to low capital intensive investment (i.e. €3,000 -€10,000)
Operating and maintenance costs description: 
Membership fee: £300 + VAT
Operating and maintenance costs: 
Yes, low O&M costs
Emission reductions description: 
6 t/CO2 per year
Technical and capacity requirements?: 

None, any organisation can implement Investors in the Environment and all the support and information you need is provided by an account manager and other members. The staff time taken depends on how fast you want to achieve accreditation, but a 1 year target would mean around 2 staff days per month.

Regulatory framework prerequisites and constraints?: 

Investors in the Environment can help you to comply with the environmental permitting regulations where you currently have no environmental management system. Extra elements such as pollution prevention plans will also be required.