To the surprise and consternation of the few remaining climate-change Jonahs out there, the demands of weathering the recession haven't led to businesses abandoning the green agenda in a desperate bid to survive. Rather the opposite, in fact: with the realisation that green initiatives can be as good for your bank balance as they are for the planet, going carbon-neutral has gone mainstream. Thanks to the recession, many firms are only too eager to make cost-savings - all in the name of the environment.
Take the example of print and packaging firm Roberts Mart. Its warehouse in Cross Green, Leeds, is only five years old, but for reasons that sales director Ben Roberts has never been able to fathom, it experiences power cuts with irritating regularity. 'It might last a second, or an hour, but, either way, we were finding that only 70% of the lights would relight. Each time, we'd have to move machinery to bring in a cherrypicker just so we could replace bulbs.'
So the existing lighting system - intended to run 24/7 - has had to go, replaced with a £100,000 energy-efficient one that's designed to switch on and off, and paid for with an interest-free loan from the government-funded Carbon Trust. Roberts reckons his company will save £3,000 a month on its electricity bill, so within three years the new lighting system will have paid for itself, just as the loan expires. The firm has also used a Carbon Trust loan to buy £200,000 worth of drying equipment that reduces its consumption of gas required to heat its printing inks. It will save the company £6,500 a month - another three-year payback - and reduce its CO2 emissions by 900 tonnes.