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Climate action makes a difference and saves money, says FD as COP26 Net Zero Champion celebrates firm’s impact

  • Government champion highlights work of Michael Smith Switchgear
  • FD Emily Smith describes impact of solar panels and other measures
  • Emily also serves as chair of ICAEW Manufacturing Advisory Group

With 25 days to go until world leaders gather for COP26, the UK's Net Zero Champion has celebrated the climate action of an industrial manufacturer. Andrew Griffith MP, the Government's Net Zero Business Champion, is counting down the days until nations from around the world arrive in Glasgow by highlighting work done by UK businesses to reduce their carbon. And he today showcased electrical engineering company Michael Smith Switchgear for its role in tackling climate change as a small business.

The Leicester-based company's finance director, Emily Smith, who chairs the ICAEW Manufacturing Advisory Group, said concerns among businesses that eco-friendly changes would be expensive were often misplaced. 'Small actions can actually make a big difference and save money,' explained Emily, who also serves as managing director of the fabrications business AVW Fabrications Ltd. 'For example, we have signed up to a crisp packet recycling initiative and reduced costs by changing our packaging to a more environmentally friendly alternative.

'Alongside these small changes we have also installed solar panels on our south-facing factory roof, changed all lighting to LED, and installed electric vehicle charge points.'

A former winner of East Midlands Chamber Manufacturer of the Year and Leicestershire Business of the Year, the firm designs and manufactures low voltage electrical switchboards. It has signed up to the UK's SME Climate Commitment and has already taken action to reduce its emissions. The result of this activity is that Michael Smith Switchgear is an industrial manufacturer with offices which use extremely low amounts of energy.

'We are now considering how to install a green roof on the area that we are unable to install solar panels on,' Emily added.

The company aims to be a leader in its industry, not just in engineering, service and design, but also in driving down emissions and pushing the sector forwards towards Net Zero.

Managing director, Sean Smith, said that other businesses can take simple steps to improve their own efforts to reduce carbon emissions. "Instead of just trying to reduce emissions or processes, people should also look at the products they are manufacturing and see if there is scope for improvement," he said.

Sean remains committed to craftmanship and emphasised that taking action does not have to impact quality, adding: "We have undertaken extensive research and development projects to reduce the amount of raw materials we use within our products.

"We looked to ensure we do not use plastic as our insulating material within our electrical switchboards. We have also changed our packaging to biodegradable where it has to be single use."

Emily, who won Company Leader (up to 100 employees) at The Business Desk's East Midlands Leadership Awards, said that the Michael Smith Switchgear experience demonstrated that climate action could bring real world business benefit. 'We've decreased our electricity bills, increased productivity, and improved staff morale,' she said. "By reducing our raw material usage and streamlining the manufacturing process, we have been able to lower our prices and pass on more savings to the customers. In turn, this has won us more work and enabled us to grow even more and increase our profits."


Double Win for MSSL at the Niche Business Awards
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0116 275 4100

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