Embracing Sustainability? Everyone’s a winner!

As we continue to strive towards creating a cleaner world, one of the main areas of concern is what large companies can do to drive and facilitate change. According to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), buildings – comprised largely of industrial plants, factories and office spaces – use approximately 40% of global energy, 25% of global water, 40% of global resources, and emit nearly 1/3 of greenhouse gas emissions*. There is clearly a lot that can be done by businesses to try and mitigate this energy use.

CNBC Catalyst recently conducted a study where we spoke to sustainability leaders from over 20 global blue-chip companies to uncover the steps being taken to drive change and the resulting effects. 

Doing good by the world whilst simultaneously improving brand image is a win-win for everyone involved. A sustainability agenda is no longer an optional extra for companies that want to maintain or improve the support they receive from customers, employees, investors and beyond; it is an essential part of doing good business in an open and transparent manner.

So what can cities, regions and nations do to improve their approach to sustainability and encourage more efficient output from the companies that reside there?

Collaboration: A focus on collaboration is key. Despite clear successes, the businesses we spoke to readily admit the drive to a sustainable future is complex, requiring technical knowledge, implementation know-how and communication skills across a very broad cross-section of professionals. Creating strong partnerships with an emphasis on idea sharing and working together is essential and mutually beneficial. The partnership must be grounded in trust in people, process and service provision, so companies feel confident that external advisors understand their business.

Commitment: Setting publicly-stated sustainability goals and committing to specific outcomes is particularly important. Communicating corporate progress towards set commitments illustrates a transparent approach to addressing sustainability issues that affect all stakeholders, as well as positively impacting brand image. Working together with the city or region to commit to overarching goals which also have a positive impact on the local economy, serves to benefit all.

New energy: The proliferation of renewable energy sources provides a wide range of new opportunities for businesses to leverage in their energy programs. Rapid developments in sources like solar, wind and biogas make renewables increasingly more commercially attractive compared to brown energy purchase, simply because they are cheaper and more resilient to price volatility. Now, more than ever, there are options to derive USPs from green cities or clean regions, in turn raising the area’s profile and allure.

The search for more streamlined and efficient business processes is a key component of corporate success. Yet a natural relationship exists between business transformation efforts and the overarching sustainability dividends these initiatives produce; looking for results in one of these areas typically yields performance improvements in the other. Whether that be cost savings, improved brand reputation or wider environmental impact. Improve company branding and the world? Everyone wins.

Genny Capper is a Data and Insight Analyst at CNBC Catalyst, the commercial division of CNBC International

* http://www.studiocollantin.eu/pdf/UNEP%20Info%20sheet%20-%20EE%20Buildings.pdf

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