AN advocate for energy-saving measures in business has urged companies to safeguard their “triple bottom line”.

Chris Harrop, group marketing director for Birkby-based building products firm Marshalls and the man hailed as a “green guru” for the construction industry, said businesses had a lot to lose by failing to tackle energy waste..

Mr Harrop said: “The best business advice I have ever received was from Jonathon Porritt, a former director of Friends of the Earth.

“He said you have to manage the ‘triple bottom line’ – economic, social and environmental factors. It’s an ethos that has become central to our strategy at Marshalls, enabling us to improve our profitability, minimise our impact on the environment and act to improve the lives of workers, their families and local communities.”

Said Mr Harrop: “Businesses have a lot to lose from energy wastage. Smart energy management not only cuts costs, but also makes organisations more productive and improves their reputation with customers.

“So, for us, embarking on an energy-efficiency journey for Marshalls was a simple decision, both in terms of staying competitive and supporting our workforce.

“Marshalls embarked on this journey more than four years ago and my only regret is that we didn’t act sooner.

“Our first step was to get an objective, expert view of where we were wasting energy and an action plan to tackle it through a Carbon Trust survey. The sooner you start, the sooner you begin to reap the rewards in terms of lower energy bills, reduced carbon emissions and an enhanced reputation with stakeholders, customers, staff and suppliers.”

Mr Harrop said that with energy prices rising, the threat of climate change and still difficult economic conditions meant cutting energy bills and carbon all at the same time made sound business sense.

And he added: “You’d be surprised how many staff adopt the sustainability cause given the opportunity. We now have drivers competing with each other to see who can drive more efficiently, with help from our carbon-reduction route planning software.

“Whatever you do in the environmental domain, it must be genuine and independently certified. Avoid ‘greenwashing’ at all costs. Too many companies pay lip service to ‘green’ issues and risk undermining the already fragile consumer confidence in this area of business performance.”

Mr Harrop warned that the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme coming into effect this month meant an increasing number of businesses would be required by law to reduce their carbon emissions or pay a fine for non-compliance.

The Carbon Trust is alerting firms to the changes through a free survey available to companies to identify possible savings on energy costs. Typically, savings of 20% to 30% can be made. Others taking part in the survey include B&Q and organic food supplier Abel & Cole.