Hospitality firm reaping the benefits of embarking on the journey to net-zero

6 December 2021

An exterior shot of a grey stone building, with green framed windows and a sign saying Oak Tree.

In the fight against climate change, we all need to play our part in reducing carbon emissions and achieving net-zero. It is a solution not only for our planet, but also for your business. Whilst some may see this challenge as an obstacle, it is in fact an opportunity for businesses across Scotland, and once set in motion will result in significant benefits for everyone.

The route to net-zero is by no means linear and for many, the biggest hurdle on their sustainability journey is knowing where to start. Nevertheless, the first steps can be as simple as implementing waste reduction and recycling schemes, using electric vehicles where possible, and carbon offsetting if necessary.

To help as many businesses as possible in their journeys to creating a green economy, there is a broad range of support available. With an online central hub of information hosted on, Scotland’s enterprise agencies and public sector partners are working together to offer the resources and advice to support every sector.

A family sitting outside the Oak Tree

One business that has already made considerable progress on their journey to net-zero throughout the past decade is the Oak Tree Inn. Located in Balmaha, the family-owned business launched in 1997 and has since expand to include several holiday home cottages, four coffee shops, and a thriving market garden.

With support from across the public sector, including Scottish Enterprise and Business Gateway, Oak Tree Inn has implemented various innovative initiatives across the company in order to become more sustainable. Initially the business made a significant financial investment, acquiring a woodchip bio-mass plant, which has aided their long-term goals to reduce the amount energy used across the business. Currently the biomass plant heats the Oak Tree Inn offices, houses and bar and restaurants, and there are plans to extend its usage into their holiday cottages.

Sandy Fraser, Oak Tree Inn said: “As parents running a family business, we felt an obligation to our children to do everything we could to save the planet. We decided we couldn’t talk about becoming more sustainable, we had to start right away.

“Our journey towards net-zero hasn’t been easy and there have been financial challenges along the way, but there is help out there for those who wish to embark on this journey. We’ve worked with Scottish Enterprise and Business Gateway throughout, and they have not only provided us with support but also shared a passion and enthusiasm for sustainability. Once we took that first step and got started on one sustainable project we couldn’t wait to get onto the next, and that momentum continues to this day.”

Oak Tree Inn have made leaps and bounds in their journey to net-zero. For example, the by-product of the coffee roasters across their coffee shops and restaurants are recycled and remade into bricks. This solid biofuel is a sustainable, heat-efficient alternative to conventional fossil fuels and is used in the restaurant fireplace. The business has also invested in an electric vehicle which has travelled more than 20,000 miles in the last two years, delivering supplies across the Oak Tree Inn premises. All of these efforts have resulted in substantial long-term cost savings for the family-owned business and their next goal is to install solar panels, further reducing their carbon usage and shift to LED lighting saving their lighting energy usage by 80-90%.

Our journey towards net-zero hasn’t been easy and there have been financial challenges along the way, but there is help out there for those who wish to embark on this journey.

Sandy Fraser

The past 12 months have been incredibly challenging for the hospitality industry, particularly in terms of recruitment, however Oak Tree Inn are discovering that their commitment to sustainability is helping them attract and retain staff and they have successfully built a team of talented individuals. Their efforts in embracing the journey to net-zero has also attracted customers to their establishment, resulting in their sustainability commitments becoming a self-perpetuating endeavour.

Wherever you are on your journey to achieving net-zero, remember that there are support and resources available, as well as specialist advice, which can all be found on Scotland’s enterprise agencies.

Visit for more information on how you can contribute to the race to net-zero and start making changes today.