It’s no secret that sustainability is firmly on the corporate agenda. In fact, HSBC research found that almost two-thirds of mid-sized Australian corporations believed sustainability would improve their profitability.
With consumer expectations continuing to evolve and sustainable solutions becoming more accessible for businesses of all sizes since then, it’s safe to assume that almost all Australian companies now recognise the critical importance of going green.
But what exactly are the main drivers of this movement? In this article, we unpack some of the key reasons why sustainability and good business go hand in hand and also look at an Australian company leading the way.
Why Sustainability Should Be a Strategic Goal
Customer acquisition, employee retention, cash flow management - all businesses know how important these practices are to the bottom line. In recent years, it’s become increasingly clear how sustainability can have positive effects on each of these business priorities and more.
Here are just some of the reasons why sustainability should be a key strategic goal.
Customer Expectations Have Changed
Gone are the days where consumers shop solely on price. A study by HP and Planet Ark found that over 90% of Australians are concerned about the environment and sustainability, and are willing to pay a premium if brands are environmentally sustainable.
Not only do Australian consumers reward businesses that adopt sustainable practices, but they expect nothing less. Nearly 80% of respondents to the survey said that they hold companies directly responsible for environmental impacts.
It Can Boost Workforce Satisfaction and Retention
With consumers placing such value on sustainability, it’s no surprise that people enjoy working within businesses that are doing the right thing. In 2012, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) released a study that found businesses that adopted green practices enjoyed a workforce that was 16% more productive than average.
These findings contradicted the commonly held notion in business at the time, which assumed that environmental practices were an unnecessary expense that delivered little real economic benefits.
However, since then, it’s become abundantly clear that employees do value working within a business that cares for more than the bottom line. Sustainability hits a common chord within the values of the individual, who on the whole support environmentally conscious businesses.
Traditional commercial energy can be expensive and unpredictable, with seasonal variances and price rises hindering cash flow planning.
On the other hand, sustainable solutions like commercial solar energy can be friendlier on cash flow while also reducing operational costs. And with flexible financing options like Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), businesses can gain all the benefits of renewable energy without worrying about the operation and maintenance of their solar system.
PPAs offer long-term fixed pricing for a large portion of energy consumed by a business, providing long-term energy price certainty. This is something traditional energy retailers cannot do because of the volatility in the wholesale energy market, which highlights that solar is the cheapest form of energy generation available to an Aussie business.
It’s Just Good Business
The financial upsides of sustainable practices are clear, however when it boils down to it, going green is simply good business.
By adopting greener alternatives, not only are you committing to building a happier and more productive workforce and reducing the costs and uncertainty associated with traditional energy, but you’re also doing your part for the planet by reducing waste and carbon emissions. This point alone should make sustainability a top priority.
Green Business Success Story
We’ve seen a few examples of how sustainability can drive positive business outcomes, now let’s look at one Australian company that is taking strides towards a greener future.
McCain’s Solar System
Australian frozen food icon McCain has been proactive in declaring its global commitment to sustainability, vowing to:
Reduce carbon emissions by 50% by the year 2030.
Cease reliance on coal by 2025.
Have 100% of its plants powered by renewable energy by 2030.
As part of this commitment, McCain engaged Smart Commercial Solar to install a large-scale solar farm at their Ballarat plant, which includes 17,000 solar panels. Most of these solar panels are mounted on the ground using bifacial panels on single axis tracker. The tracker system will rotate the panels to match the path of the sun during the day, significantly increasing the yield of the system. Bifacial panels are designed to capture the reflected sunlight from behind the panel, optimising the system even further.
By pursuing a 7MW solar system at their Ballarat location, McCain will cut carbon-dioxide emissions by more than 27,000 tonnes per year.
As you can see, the benefits of going green go far beyond simple energy savings. Sustainability can cultivate a more positive and productive workforce, improve retention and even benefit cash flow, which makes it a worthy goal of any organisation.