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Section 2: Your impact on air quality

There is no ‘one size fits all’ list of actions for a Clean Air Plan, but it will need to include actions across three key areas; (a) your business model, (b) operations & supply chain, and (c) employees.

How to build your own Clean Air Plan


Your Clean Air Plan will likely include measures that span your entire company footprint, from suppliers that support you, to your customer’s home.  


1. Read through each section and establish how your business detriments air pollution and the opportunities to improve air quality. There are suggested provocations and actions under 3 headings within this section:


Your business model

Operations and supply chain




2. In Section 3 you will find our 3 example plans to help you understand the suggested type, format and number of actions to include.


3. You will also find a Clean Air Plan template for your own use. Select from the actions you have noted to build your plan.


Improving air quality across your business


Every company is different and has a unique opportunity to combat air pollution through the products, services, marketplace reach and influence it has.  You should set actions to mitigate any air quality issues caused by your products and services, and harness the positive potential of your business model to help clean up the air.


This section shows the different air quality considerations for the 11 sectors of the UK economy based on FTSE Russell Industry Classification Benchmark definitions. 


These very short summaries for each sector are not meant to be exhaustive, but rather give inspiration for how your plan could harness your core business to tackle emissions.


Click on the sections below to view a specific sector group.

Consists of companies that extract or process raw materials, and manufacturers of semi-finished goods such as chemicals, textile, paper, forest products and related packaging products.


Sector opportunity: Companies in this sector can show leadership by striving for green processes at all times, and transitioning to circular business models where possible, designing for product reuse and minimising the amount of extraction required. If reuse is not possible, then products can be designed with green disposal in mind.  Furthermore, regeneration of old material extraction sites could act as screens between major pollution sources and population areas. For example, an open cast coal site in between a major road and a town would be a greater natural barrier if it becomes forest land rather than open grassland. 


Sector pollution footprint: The extraction of raw materials, such as forestry, metals and fibres, requires a significant amount of energy (which can be switched to renewable sources) and chemicals, in turn causing air pollution. The manufacture of chemicals and fertilizers generates high levels of NMVOCs and ammonia, so innovation in this sector could reduce pollution downstream, such as in the agriculture industry where fertilizer use is widespread. 

Contains companies that provide products and services directly to the consumers, and their purchasing habits are non-cyclical in nature (discretionary).


Sector opportunity: As organisations that advertise to individuals, these companies have the opportunity to positively influence the public; both by avoiding driving desires that aren’t in people’s interests (e.g. the rise of SUVs) and to help individuals to understand the harm caused by air pollution and the need to make decisions which will improve the air for all of us.  They can also lead the way in giving customers the utility rather than the product. For example, access to get somewhere by car when essential (e.g. car club), but not necessarily to own a car 24/7.


Sector pollution footprint: Car manufacturers, clothing and furniture retailers, and travel providers provide products and services to people that contribute significantly to air pollution both outdoors and indoors. Companies that sell such products to consumers can consider three things; a) reducing the air pollution generated in the product production process b) pollution caused when customers use the product or service and how zero-pollution products can be introduced to the market instead c) the pollution caused by the disposal of products at end of life.


Contains companies that provide products and services directly to the consumers, and their purchasing habits are cyclical in nature (staples).


Sector opportunity: The cyclical nature of these purchases creates an opportunity for innovation in the disposal/reuse of these products to be circular. As organisations that directly market to individuals, these companies have the opportunity to positively influence the public to understand the harm caused by air pollution and the need to make decisions which will improve the air for all of us.  


Sector pollution footprint: Companies in the business of growing, processing and retailing food and beverage – particularly livestock – contribute significantly to air pollution. Producers and retailers of personal hygiene and cleaning products are also of particular significance to creating indoor air pollution. Such companies can consider three things; a) reducing the air pollution generated in the product production process b) pollution caused when customers use the product or service and how zero-pollution products can be introduced to the market instead c) the pollution caused by the disposal of products at end of life.

Contains companies that engage in energy extraction, process, and production activities and produce related energy equipment.


Sector opportunity: The air pollution footprint of thousands of companies in other sectors is dependent on how clean the energy is in our grid system, so energy generators have a unique opportunity to clean up the energy for all. By sourcing low polluting energy these companies have the opportunity to begin a trickledown effect that allows utility companies to offer low polluting tariffs to their customers.


Sector pollution footprint: As well as CO2 and other harmful greenhouse gases, energy companies are responsible for over 60% of industrial NOx emissions. This is primarily from, but not exclusive to, the extraction and burning of fossil fuels. 

Consists of companies engaged in savings, loans, security investment and related activities such as financial data and information providers.


Sector opportunity: This sector can help finance business which is combatting air pollution, such as new mobility services, renewable energy, low pollution products for homes and offices, alternatives to current shipping and aviation fleets, innovation in fertilisers and so on.  The UK government’s Clean Growth Strategy cites green finance as a method to support clean technologies and solutions, so this sector can use its financial weight to influence business for good. Additionally, these companies have an opportunity to promote more sustainable financial products to customers, such as green bonds or responsibly invested funds.  


Sector pollution footprint: Banks, investors and insurers can encourage and support their typically large workforces reduce unnecessary air and road travel.

Consists of companies that manufacture health care equipment and supplies or that provide health care-related services such as lab services, in-home medical care and operate health care facilities.


Sector opportunity: As trusted advisors the health care sector has an important role to play in advising the public on how to protect themselves from air pollution, in devising new solutions to diseases made worse by pollution, and in ensuring that health centres providing treatment to the most vulnerable are especially protected from the effects of air pollution. They can also consider their relationship with the NHS and the opportunity to work in partnership to help it minimise its pollution footprint. 


Sector pollution footprint: The production of products, particularly single-use products, generates air pollution. Incineration as a disposal method is a source of air pollution.  Additionally, companies can consider direct air pollution emissions, for example biomedical gases and vehicle pollution from patient transport. 

Consists of companies engaged in manufacturing and distribution of capital goods and provider of business support services.


Sector opportunity: In the construction sub-sector, there is opportunity for innovation in the materials and methods of construction and demolition used. Companies that provide mass transport, delivery and logistics could cut their air pollution by transitioning to electric vehicles or drones. Companies that design and sell industrial products and machinery that cause pollution, in particular in the fields of decontamination, printing or agriculture, are positioned to innovate products for air quality and market low pollution options to customers. 


Sector pollution footprint: Identified in the Clean Air Strategy as one of the key areas to take action to reduce emissions, industrial combustion is responsible for 16% of PM2.5, 22% of SO2 and 22% of NMVOCs. This varied sector can invest in optimal processes and infrastructure to reduce avoidable emissions.

Consists of companies engaged in real estate investment, development, and other real estate related services. 


Sector opportunity: This sector can use its influence for good by working with local authorities and other businesses to influence town planning to be car free – for example incorporating mixed use design so people don’t need to travel so far to access services. These companies have an opportunity to locate higher polluting industries away from vulnerable groups (such as schools and hospitals) and invest in land use that helps extract pollutants, such as wetlands and forests. They can consider incorporating greater green space into urban centres.  In developing real estate, they can enforce high standards in demolition and construction, plus they have a chance to ensure good indoor air quality by designing-in solutions, such as effective ventilation. 


Sector pollution footprint: Real estate developers, managers and investment trusts are responsible as landlords and investors for ensuring levels of air pollution inside and outside buildings are healthy, and that clean air places become the norm in our towns and cities. 

Companies that are primarily engaged in the advancement of the information technology and electronics industries.


Sector opportunity: Tech can support the reduction in emissions from many other sectors. Solutions to the largest pollution sources will bring great benefit including smarter logistics and smarter roads, cleaner vehicles, a more responsive energy grid, minimising emissions in manufacturing processes, and eliminating fossil fuel use as widely as possible. Live air quality data, through monitors or satellite technology, could aid informed decision making by the public, industry and policymakers.


Sector pollution footprint: Upstream air pollution is generated in the production of electronic components, and the large quantities of energy required to provide technology services can cause a pollution problem if generated by fossil fuels.

Contains companies that own and operate telecommunication infrastructures to provide content delivery services.


Sector opportunity: Telecoms can support working from home and make agile working easier – reducing the need to travel and cutting associated emissions. Additionally, to maximise the benefits of flexi-working they could share real time travel data to influence travel choices and ultimately reduce congestion. Furthermore, with large customer bases comes the ability to influence the environmental behaviour of tens of thousands of people. Telecoms providers can help revolutionise the way we work.


Sector pollution footprint: Telecommunications companies generate air pollution in the production of telecommunication equipment, the housing of data and the installation of their products (e.g. underground cables).

Contains companies that distributes electric, gas, and water. 


Sector opportunity: Companies providing electricity can use their market influence to work with energy producers, the Grid and the regulator to prioritise clean energy. They have the opportunity to improve the business case for EVs through a smart grid that utilises their storage capacity to capture renewable energy when it would otherwise be lost. Additionally, these companies also have the ability to shift public behaviour and consequently increase public demand for energy that doesn’t cause pollution. This can be achieved by providing low-polluting tariffs, educating their customers on the differing impacts and offering alternative, clean, services to replace solid fuel burning at home. 


Sector pollution footprint: Air pollution is generated in the construction, maintenance and waste disposal processes of this sector. 

Your operations and supply chain 


Air pollution is also caused and influenced by the day to day running of your business, particularly the buildings and vehicles you operate, the procurement and recycling of ‘goods not for resale’, and the behaviour of your suppliers.


Click on the sections below to view a specific sector group.

Recommendation: Mitigating sources of air pollution


    • Buildings owned or occupied achieve all BREEAM credits that relate to air quality
    • Buildings owned or occupied achieve all LEED actions that relate to air quality
    • Select sustainable, non-toxic and air purifying building materials to limit off-gassing of pollutants within buildings
    • Construction and demolition adhere to Considerate Constructor Scheme standards
  • As a tenant or building manager consult the WELL Building Institute standard to ensure indoor air quality meets fundamental health standards

 Recommendation: Ensure maintenance of air quality equipment in buildings


    • Ensure effective planned and reactive maintenance of building heating and air handling equipment
    • Ensure regular cleaning of ductwork, discharge louvres, grilles and filters
  • Improve the quality of filters fitted

Recommendation: Energy efficiency


  • Carry out an energy survey for the building to determine where energy efficiencies can be achieved

Recommendation: Eradicate cleaning products which cause pollution


    • Carry out cleaning cycle in the evening to allow air to clear before occupants arrive in the morning
    • Switch to fragrance free cleaning products
  • Avoid using cleaning products in spray form

Recommendation: Increase ventilation and filtration


    • Install energy-efficient filtration appliances


Recommendation: Provide effective green space


  • Make green space available to employees for breaks

Recommendation: Manage quality of air drawn into building


    • Use barrier planting to protect building air intakes from pollution
    • Ensure smoking areas are positioned away from building air intakes
  • Make whole site a non-smoking area


Recommendation: Review layout of sites to reduce air pollution impact 


  • Ensure processes that generate air pollution are positioned away from people (e.g. generation plants, photocopiers)

Recommendation: Transition on site energy use from fossil fuels to renewables


  • Switch from fossil fuel burning appliances to electric alternatives which can then be run on renewables

Recommendation: Increase the percentage of energy provided by renewables


  • Energy supplies are transitioned to a 100% green tariff (where possible renewable energy is generated on site)

Recommendation: Reduce pollution caused by the production, delivery and use of goods and services not for resale e.g. office supplies, catering           


    • Work with businesses in your local area to homogenise suppliers and increase the number of actions that can be completed for each vehicle entering the area
    • Add air pollution requirements to tender documents
  • Encourage your suppliers to become a Business for Clean Air

Recommendation: Review current delivery schedules



Recommendation: Transition transport and distribution transport to zero emission vehicles for vehicles owned by you or managed by a provider



Recommendation: Reduce mileage required in the transportation of goods


    • Choose local suppliers to reduce mileage requires for deliveries


Recommendation: Chose the least polluting transportation method available


    • Prioritise suppliers who are able to deliver with the lowest impact on air pollution, incorporate this into the tender phase


Recommendation: Support suppliers to shift to electric transport


  • Provide rapid charging points at delivery bays for supplier use


Recommendation: Help customers choose low pollution options


    • Be transparent in your communication with customers about the options available and their impact on air pollution
    • Offer electric vehicle delivery services for further afield where cargo bikes aren’t feasible

Recommendation: Reduce number of journeys made by employees in vehicles owned or leased by your business


  •  Provide training and equipment to facilitate a transition to digital meetings

Recommendation: Transition company car fleet to zero emission


  • The business commits to transition its fleet (leased or owned) to zero tail-pipe emissions

Recommendation: Improve driving standards


  • Provide training for employees and suppliers on eco-driving and anti-idling

Recommendation: No-idling policy for site


  •  Put a no idling policy in place for all employees who drive and vehicles who visit site. Raise awareness of this policy through clear signage and training

Recommendation: Choose the least polluting method available to dispose of waste


  • Ensure no waste generated is incinerated

Your employees


For many service-based businesses without a complex supply chain or manufacturing processes, the largest source of pollution will be its employees. With commuting and business travel responsible for almost half of all miles travelled per person in England and road transport responsible for 80% of roadside NOx emissions, tackling emissions from personal and business travel is an air pollution priority.  Click on the icons below to jump to a specific section.

Recommendation: Minimise travel required for business


    • Provide training and equipment to facilitate a transition to digital meetings 
    • Introduce Business Travel policy which stipulates senior approval for flights to determine whether the journey is necessary 
  • Introduce colleague training and incentive schemes that reward employees for not travelling unnecessarily  


Recommendation: Ensure staff choose the least polluting transport method available for business travel 


    • Create and promote an internal travel hierarchy q  Implement a policy of EV only car hire or taxi use
    • When journeys by car are essential, increase the mileage rate for vehicle expenses use when car sharing with other employees 
  • Make use of journey planning that helps drivers to select lowest pollution routes

Recommendation: Increase the number of journeys made by active travel (walking, cycling)



Recommendation: Increase the number of journeys made by public transport instead of private vehicle


    • Offer a loan for a public transport season ticket, up to a maximum tax-free value of £10,000
    • Subsidise local public transport routes for employees
    • Represent employees on committees deciding on the local provision of public transport, to ensure it meets their needs
    • Fund facilities for easier use of public transport, e.g. bus stops
  • Allow flexible start times for employees to avoid peak commuting charges


Recommendation: Promote shared mobility


    • Promote ride sharing services
    • Provide a shared bike pool, including e-bikes
    • Promote peer-to-peer cycle clubs
    • Organise shuttle-buses for frequent routes (e.g. to the railway station)
  • Create an onsite car club for use by employees

Recommendation: Facilitate the transition to EV where private vehicles are required


    • Provide sufficient EV charging infrastructure to meet current need and allow the number of EV drivers to grow
    • Dictate preferential parking for EV and low emission vehicles
    • Include a range of EVs on the company car lists
    • Arrange access to EV test drive days
    • Offer a salary sacrifice EV option
  • Support the installation of charging points at employee homes.

Recommendation: Support employees to protect themselves from air pollution at work 


    • Provide training to help employees change behaviours at work which contribute to air pollution   
  • Provide guidance and protection for employees exposed to air pollutants at work

Recommendation; create a clear policy for employees



Recommendation: establish basic practicalities


  • Ensure staff are trained on how to use software to enable flexible working e.g. video conferencing


Recommendation: Train management to get the most out of flexible workers


  • Share tips on productive homeworking