Sustainability in Action: The financial, environmental and business benefits of sustainability

Some of the biggest misconceptions in meeting sustainability targets is that the topic is too big to handle or that going green simply isn’t worth the cost unless you’re forced to do it. But with a well-planned green energy journey and the right mix of renewable energy solutions, it is possible to meet these targets and reap the financial, business and environmental rewards.

Taking ESG from plan to reality

Most people might have heard of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. One of these goals is to achieve affordable, clean energy. Admittedly, this goal sounds daunting when you look at it in isolation. However, when diving into the steps within the overarching goal, you will see that it stipulates more manageable targets, such as improving the global rate of energy efficiency or increasing the share of renewable energy as a nation.

Although unpacking national goals against worldwide targets may seem overwhelming, your business can play a part. Our guide on planning your Green Energy Journey towards more accessible renewable energy can help your business achieve your sustainability goals and contribute towards greater national commitments.

Planning your organisation’s green energy road map is easier than it seems. Fill in our green energy goals questionnaire to identify the right alternative energy solution for your business.

To get to grips with sustainability, let’s start by unpacking some key terms.

Sustainability vs ESG: what is the difference?

Sustainability and ESG are terms that people cite most often in conversations around renewable practices and going green; with people regularly using them interchangeably. There is however a reason for this as they are strongly correlated and feed directly into one another. 

Sustainability, in its simplest form, means looking at environmental, social and economic factors of development and finding the “sustainable” balance between them to ensure that the environment is protected for future generations. For example, one could argue that there is a need for thermal power stations, but we should still take into account that their use shouldn’t obstruct future generations’ need for clean air as their health and quality of life depend on it.

ESG (or environmental, social, governance) looks at the key aspects of sustainability, across the spectrum. It measures the non-financial risks of a company regarding its environmental impact, social responsibility, and corporate governance. ESG links sets of specific goals to refine the performance of ESG management systems, leading them to be more sustainable. This enables a more unbiased approach to measuring true sustainability.

In essence, sustainability is the vision, and ESG highlights the measurable goals that make that vision a reality. 

Why ESG is good for business

Putting a solid ESG framework in place isn’t a simple tick-box reporting exercise. It actually offers tangible financial, environmental and business benefits to organisations that want to differentiate themselves in the eyes of their communities and those of potential investors and employees.

Society is facing significant challenges like climate change, pollution, socioeconomic inequality, and more. As a member of the community it operates in, a business must show a commitment to tackling these issues in a responsible and sustainable manner. A report by McKinsey et al sets out how businesses, including:

Improving topline growth

Governments, businesses, and customers need to partner with enterprises that they can trust. A commitment to ESG opens supply chains, keeps regulators at bay, unlocks investments, and motivates consumers to engage with your business.

Reducing costs

McKinsey found that rising costs affect 60% of profits. ESG discourages waste and seeks to find more efficient solutions. Furthermore, ESG helps the business be proactive, so it will continuously find ways to reduce waste and costs.

Reducing regulatory and legal interventions

Government action is typically reactionary to an adverse incident. If a business can demonstrate a culture of accountability and responsibility, it will face less backlash from adverse incidents.

Attracting better employees, who are more productive and will stay longer

ESG recognizes that there are issues bigger than the company; that’s something employees can believe in. A company that values its employees will be able to retain them in the long run. Additionally, employee motivation is tied to the impact the company has on the community.

Focusing the company’s resources on investment and asset optimisation

ESG helps a company think outside the box regarding promising, sustainable opportunities like renewable energy and waste management.

Minimising risk and building resilience

The world is rapidly changing, and it can be hard to keep up sometimes. ESG ensures your policies anticipate problems, enhance adaptability to challenges, and embrace a culture of change.

Improving the corporate image and brand

Companies that practice sustainability have a more favourable image than those that don’t. Customers and companies want to associate with businesses with values that match theirs, making ESG a competitive advantage.

See how solar is transforming the auto industry to be more green.

Challenges that businesses in South Africa face in implementing ESG and sustainability practices

When it comes to implementing ESG, South African businesses face several challenges. The number of ESG frameworks a company must comply with is chief among them. Each stakeholder (councils, regulators, business partners, or consumers) has their own criteria and datasets that the business must collect.

When it comes to making changes in the business, for instance switching from non-renewable energy sources to renewable, it’s not always possible for businesses across every industry to impact sustainability on such a core level, given their specific context. This doesn’t mean though, that they cannot do their part in advocating for the creation and use of renewable energy.

Step by step with SolarAfrica

Sustainability and ESG compliance doesn’t have to be intimidating. With access to the right suite of holistic, renewable energy solutions, you can take your sustainability journey one step at a time as you move forward to reach 100% on your green energy goals. SolarAfrica offers its clients bespoke energy solutions that can help them reduce their carbon footprint, costs, and reliance on the national grid.

Best of all: you don’t have to walk this journey alone. Our energy experts are on-hand to help you structure a solution that meets your operational and budgetary requirements today while planning for the green energy requirements of tomorrow.

SolarAfrica looks at the needs of our clients and links this to renewable energy solutions that let clients meet their financial and energy goals. Maybe you start with installing a solar system – zero upfront investment required – through a Power Purchase Agreement. As a next step, you could install battery storage to have even more access to reliable power. Wheeling is an excellent way to boost your green credentials while accessing utility-scale solar power. Considering you still have renewable energy certificates and power trading, to choose from our holistic suite, and it’s easy to see how you can reach your green energy goals in no time.

Get in touch with us today, and we’ll help you find the right sustainable solution for your business.