Sustainably Speaking: new event sparks fresh ideas on business sustainability

Last week, we were delighted to bring together over 100 organisations in Manchester to solve some of their most pressing sustainability challenges. 

Our first free-to-attend Sustainably Speaking event tackled a wide breadth of topics, from making the business case for sustainability to procuring green energy. Consisting of an expert speaker line-up and a roundtable that followed, participants and speakers alike were able to exchange ideas that would kickstart action on sustainability goals.

The business case for sustainable decisions

Sustainability is one of the buzzwords of the decade, but it’s also climbing to become one of the biggest business cases. Anthony Mayall, CCO of Sustainable Energy First, tackled this topic head-on in his talk. His advice: Pick the largest offenders from a sustainability point of view and slowly roll out change from there, then prioritising projects that have the greatest financial or carbon savings.

Event attendees echoed Anthony’s points, saying that even though drivers were currently more stick than carrot, the benefits of investing in net zero lead to both environmental and economic advantages, as well as social ones.

Taking action: Start with the low hanging fruit

Sophie Addison, ESG Director at engineering company, Addison Group shared her experience of embedding sustainability into their everyday business. Her advice was to first consider the capital investment with small payback – including lighting upgrades, insulation and voltage optimisation. Addison Group is also using digital twins to understand the benefits effects of capital decarbonisation measures, before they invest.

The company is also working hard to reduce its digital footprint by moving to a cloud-based IT system. Staff are also encouraged to think about how to communicate with the lowest carbon impact, for example Teams messages versus email, which carries a higher footprint.

Tell your ESG story from the inside out

Along with the demand for actionable change comes the need to share the story of your organisation’s progress. Speaker Joanna Watchman, MD and founder of Content Coms, spoke to the significance of telling an impactful story. It’s not just necessary for investors and reporting, but also for driving action from the heart of your organisation.

In order to ‘own’ your plan, people in the organisation need to feel connected to it, Watchman says. That means sharing stories from within the team.

“Get under the bonnet of the detail. Find the people who are making great things happen. Help them to tell their story – and involve them in the sharing.”

Uncovering the different shades of green energy

When it comes to metrics of success, Sustainable Energy First’s Matt Osborne explained that profit is no longer the only key metric. Now, he says, organisations must look at how green their energy procurement is and, in turn, how that impacts their carbon footprint. From REGOs to CPPAs, the difference can be major.

Matt is our Head of Risk and plays a key role in orchestrating our Sustainable Energy Consortium, a pioneering group buying approach which makes truly renewable energy accessible to more businesses.

We are planning our next Sustainably Speaking event in September. If you’d like to join us, get in touch to receive updates.