LARGE companies that take environmental responsibilities seriously face a long slog to drive necessary change in their organisations, but there can be commercial benefits without major investment – according to a new report from St Ives-based green-tech m

LARGE companies that take environmental responsibilities seriously face a long slog to drive necessary change in their organisations, but there can be commercial benefits without major investment - according to a new report from St Ives-based green-tech market analyst firm Innovation Observatory.

The report, "Meeting the challenges of climate change and environmental legislation: lessons from early movers", is based on a review of European environmental legislation, analysis of energy usage by sector and detailed interviews with companies in the UK, Sweden, France and Germany that have identified business benefits from early compliance.

The companies studied include those in power generation, transport, manufacturing, retailing, and financial and business services - Deutsche Telekom, AXA Group, Ericsson, Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget, BT, Virgin Trains, Alliance Boots, Kingfisher, E.ON UK and MotivAction Group.

Report co-author Simon Sherrington said: "Our research found that, even for the most steadfast companies, reducing impact on the environment is not easy, and the long-term commitments required can be slow in demonstrating tangible results.

"While there are some quick wins, the successful companies are clear that taking a strategic approach, focusing on specific achievable measures, educating and involving all staff, and generalising best practice, are the keys to success."

Among the commercially and environmentally-effective actions and ideas identified by the companies interviewed were that:

implementing combined heat and power (CHP) plants in response to regulatory demands results in considerable cost savings and carbon emission reduction

using simple curtains in older data-centre premises to help insulate cooled parts of the building reduces energy requirements and costs without major investment

sharing lorry capacity with other companies and using smaller lorries that are always full reduces environmental impact of retail logistics operations

a combination of small changes (such as changing the use of kettles in staff kitchens and training drivers to drive better) and larger actions (converting company vehicles to run on LPG) together result in a big impact on a company's own transport-related carbon emissions.

The 77-page report examines current and forthcoming European environmental legislation for large and small businesses, detailing the nature of the risks faced and opportunities presented for businesses and characterising the critical business processes most affected by the legislation.

It also examines key national differences in current and future legislation with particular reference to the UK, France and Germany, and identifies the key success factors for driving sustainable change within businesses. The report costs £750 (plus VAT) for a five-user licence and is available from www.innovationobservatory.com

INFORMATION: Innovation Observatory researches, analyses and interprets fast-moving technology markets to help companies and other organisations to better understand the markets they are serving, recognise how their industries are changing, spot competitor and customer innovations taking place now, identify innovations they can introduce straight away and in the future, to improve existing revenues, open up new markets, cut costs and drive profit. The company is at Silvaco Technology Centre, Compass Point Business Park, St Ives PE27 5JL: telephone 01480 309341 or 07917 533139.