How to Improve Air Quality

Your environment

This guide gives you an introduction to air pollution in London and some top tips on what you can be doing to improve your impact on air pollution through your supply chain, travel and green space initiatives.

Air quality in parts of the City of London and its surrounding boroughs is among the worst in the UK and Europe. The major sources of air pollution are from combustion as a direct result of transport and heating. Businesses contribute to this in various ways including how their employees get to work, how their heating is powered and the logistics of their supply chain. It’s estimated that poor air quality contributes to up to 8,000 premature deaths in London every year. Most of the steps you can take to improve your company’s air pollution will also reduce your carbon footprint as well as your energy bills, so it’s win-win for you and the environment!

How polluted is your air? 

Find out! LondonAir measures air quality around London hourly and DEFRA’s Air Information Resource has an interactive map filtered by types of pollutants.

What can your business do? 

1) Reduce journeys and emissions:

  • Encourage employees to use public transport where they can
  • Introduce a Cycle to Work scheme – use salary sacrifice tax breaks to help employees with affordable cycling equipment or set up a TFL bike business account
  • Start a ‘walk to the client’ scheme – WalkIt can provide you with the quickest, most quiet or least polluted walking routes in London
  • Consolidate deliveries of items with a long shelf life such as stationery and work with other tenants in your building to merge deliveries and waste collection
  • Make more storage room available to accommodate more stock, so you can reduce the number of deliveries you get
  • Add a ‘no idling’ policy to all contracts including private cars and vehicles in your supply chain – ask drivers not to run engines when they’re waiting for people
  • Change your contractor to one that uses electric vehicles or insist they use vehicles that meet the latest EURO standard
  • Don’t authorise or reimburse short taxi journeys
  • Provide accessible and clear local mapping – most destinations in the City can be more quickly reached by walking or cycling
  • Choose trains instead of flights – CO2 emissions can be cut by 90% this way
  • Offer low emission pool cars and if a few employees are going to the same destination, ask them to travel together
  • Your travel planning should recognise the increased environmental impact of flying compared to other transport, so it’s a good idea to introduce policies to avoid unnecessary flights
  • Audio and video conferencing should be your default option if it’s practical

2) Optimise your built environment & energy:

  • Work with other tenants and your building’s manager to improve sustainability
  • Commission an energy review of your building that includes recommendations to reduce air pollutants
  • Look at ways to reduce carbon emissions through initiatives like installing solar panels – they improve air quality and reduce energy bills
  • Get your energy from green, renewable sources but avoid using on-site renewables that involve combustion, such as biomass and biofuel

3) Improve your supply chain:

  • Make the air quality and sustainability elements of your supply chain and procurement policies compulsory
  • Make the air quality and sustainability elements of your supply chain and procurement policies compulsory
  • Where you can, use bicycle couriers for deliveries. If that’s impractical, require suppliers to use low or zero emission vehicles
  • Consolidate suppliers (such as caterers) to reduce the number of deliveries you get each week
  • Consider a monthly delivery of life-long products such as tea, coffee, paper and stationery

Roof gardens and green walls

This is a great way to improve air quality and energy efficiency. The plants will absorb carbon dioxide in the air and insulate your building, reducing the need for air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter. A roof garden also provides an enjoyable space for your employees to have meetings and go for lunch!

Useful tools

 

This was updated in April 2019 by Heart of the City

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