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lean and green

Why being sustainable makes for good business

For March’s in-depth coverage of SMEs, we looked at business and the environment, and making enterprise more sustainable.

EVERY MONTH, takes a close look at a certain sector or aspect of life for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Making up over 99% of all Irish businesses and employing nearly 70% of private-sector workers, these enterprises are vital to jobs and economic growth in the country.

For March, we looked at business and the environment, and making enterprise more sustainable.

Here’s what we featured:

#BUSINESS CHART explored Ireland’s energy industry – and how it was keeping pace with EU 2020 targets. The answer was not that well, based on the latest figures from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. At the end of 2013, the country was still less than half way to the goal that 16% of its total energy needs would come from renewable sources

screen-shot-2015-03-14-at-4-07-18-pm Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

#THE BIG IDEA came from Dublin’s Energy Elephant, which claims it can save businesses up to 20% on their energy costs through an analysis of companies’ bills – and then advise on where to make changes. But founder Joe Borza said Ireland still struggled with “walking the walk” when it came to delivering major sustainable energy solutions

energyelephant-team-630x405 Energy Elephant CEO Joe Borza (left) with co-founder Eoin Ó Fearghail

#WHAT I LEARNED was about Athlone company OxyMem, which is helping solve a big problem for the world’s growing population – how to process the waste from those billions of extra bodies more efficiently. The firm has developed a new water-processing system which uses only about one-quarter the energy of traditional methods

Byrne OxyMem managing director Wayne Byrne

#BUSINESS POLL asked readers whether more should be done to develop renewable energy in Ireland. The country has been falling behind on its EU 2020 targets and it faces potential penalties of €300 million a year for coming up short, although the shift to significant wind generation does come with a cost. The response was overwhelming – 86% of those who replied were in favour of driving the renewable sector

Renewable poll

#HOW TO GUIDE looked at sustainability in SMEs and why all businesses should focus on improving their practices. According to not-for-profit group Business in the Community Ireland, many Irish enterprises already have excellent ethical and environmental standards, but they need to get better at promoting their own good work

#SME BOOK CLUB featured Navi Radjou and Jaideep Prabhu’s Frugal Innovation: How to Do More With Less. As the title suggests, the book is all about how businesses can utilise the powerful tools already at their fingertips to make better products more cheaply – and profit accordingly. One of the key tips is to “make friends with fellow innovators” and piggy-back on one another’s knowledge


First published 31 April

READ: There are lots of good reasons to get behind Irish products. Here are some of them… >

READ: Here are some really good ways to get staff to do what you want (without forcing them) >

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