Rise in small business interest in green supports

Many businesses are now focussed on reducing their environmental impact.

Small and medium-sized businesses interested in grants to help them invest in sustainable measures increased by over 40% in the past year, according to the bi-annual Uisce Éireann SME Sustainability Sentiment Survey.

The increase indicates a strong desire from businesses to reduce the environmental footprint of their operations. More than a third of Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) see the availability of grants to offset the cost of investment as a key driver in making their businesses more sustainable.

SMEs are actively seeking avenues to invest in greener practices, as nearly half of respondents (45%) cite a lack of available supports as a barrier to implementing measures such as sourcing renewable energy and reducing carbon footprint. Additionally, 38% of businesses say they would welcome further information on how to go green, emphasising a proactive stance in addressing challenges.

The government has a wide range of grant schemes available to help businesses on their green journey, including the Energy Efficient Grant, the ‘Enterprise Ireland Green Transition Fund’, the Non-Domestic Microgen Scheme, as well as the Climate Toolkit for Business. Furthermore, Uisce Éireann offers a suite of easy-to-access and free initiatives to help SMEs reduce costs and become more sustainable when it comes to their use of water, including its first-of-its-kind-globally Water Stewardship Programme and Annual Membership Scheme (see www.water.ie).


SMEs have been active in conservation areas throughout the past year, with 78% actively attempting to reduce the amount of waste they produced and 77% aiming to improve their energy efficiency. Efforts towards water conservation among SMEs has grown over the last quarter, rising 19 percentage points from 48% to 57%. 

The number of SMEs planning to maintain or increase their investment into sustainable measures for their business remains high, with 9 in 10 seeking to retain or bolster investments toward sustainability in the next 12 months, a trend that’s been consistent since 2022. 

During a period where businesses of all sizes face a wide array of globally influenced challenges, the cost of making changes understandably remains a key consideration for SMEs, as over three-quarters (78%) identified cost as a barrier to investing in sustainable practices. Further, seven in 10 SMEs considered cost as an influence when making investment decisions.