17 July 2012 ­– Queensland-based Environment Australia has launched the first nationally accredited course to improve the environmental performance of small and medium businesses to coincide with the introduction of the carbon tax.

The Department of Employment, Education, and Workplace Relations has funded the Certificate IV in Business Sustainability Assessment (Cert IV BSA) to help business owners and consultants improve sustainability outcomes.

The course addresses the carbon tax’s price impact by assessing thermal performance, waste generation and water and energy consumption and offering lower carbon emission alternatives based on cost savings.

Environment Australia director and course developer Paul Kramer said the course was an opportunity for businesses to make efficiencies in the wake of carbon tax to improve overall productivity.

“Businesses are doing it hard anyway and this is about improving the bottom line,” he said.

“It’s not just about reducing your carbon, it’s about making businesses more efficient.”

Mr Kramer, wrote the first accredited course in bush regeneration adopted by Greening Australia in the mid-90s, said the introduction of the carbon tax would act as an instigator for businesses to look for savings in environmental performance.

“Many companies didn’t realise they can make savings by switching their electricity tariff or changing providers,” he said.

The introduction of the carbon tax meant the country needed to capacity-build to support growth in the now-established sustainability industry.

He said that despite subsidies through the government’s Critical Skills program making the course free of charge, a lack of qualified trainers had limited registered training organisations and TAFE colleges in offering the course.

Despite this the course has garnered support from unlikely places. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland partnered Environment Australia’s proposal to the Commonwealth Government for assistance to deliver the course despite its opposition to the carbon tax.

“Their line is that they don’t like the carbon tax but it’s still their responsibility to help their clients given it’s a fait accompli,” Mr Kramer said.

He said the response from CCIQ members to the course had been “overwhelming” and was another sign of the general move towards an awareness of environmental performance as an indicator of a business’s overall viability – despite Tony Abbott’s opposition to the tax.

“It doesn’t matter who gets in they’re going to have to address the issues.”