In the run up to the COMMIT!Forum, CR Magazine spoke with Brian Lakamp, Founder and CEO at Totem Power. Totem's smart hub combines modern communications, advanced energy, and distributed intelligence into a single, powerful platform for modern campuses, retail centers, commercial facilities, cities and more. We spoke with him about being a practitioner in the clean energy space.
CRMag: As a practitioner, how does telling the Corporate Responsibility (CR) story feel different from everyday sales & marketing?
Brian Lakamp: Totem is the first smart city platform that is dedicated to telling its CR story through its core offering. Totem was founded to grow and connect responsible and resilient communities– and that is at the heart of the company. Corporations are missing out on massive opportunities to leverage their CR and sustainability investments beyond their PR and company messaging. By installing Totem into their campuses or parking lots, corporations can breed awareness and engagement with corporate sustainability commitments across customers and employees in ways that that haven’t been available previously. By bringing clean energy into the conversation, these actors will be recognized for translating their efforts into tangible, long-term impacts for their key constituents.
CRMag: How has your understanding of CR's value proposition — both within your company or sector and as a general matter — evolved over time?
BL: It is increasingly clear that corporations need to re-evaluate the longevity and impact of their corporate sustainability initiatives. By increasing investment in renewables, companies can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels that pollute the communities they serve. They can magnify that impact and celebrate their investments in people and the planet with “PDR” – public displays of responsibility. We think it’s essential to showcase these corporate investments in places that create broad awareness and ultimately drive energy literacy.
The market is transforming because companies, citizens and cities are voicing their commitment to live more sustainably. Now, more than ever, the opportunity presents to invest in infrastructure that fosters smarter energy, communications and transportation to accommodate our increasingly connected world.
How do you convey CR's value proposition to your many different stakeholders? (I break it down by audiences: employees, customers, shareholders, regulators and other influencers.)
BL: Totem delivers modern services in a form that also drives broader impact. It’s about levered value that accrues across multiple stakeholders , including:
· Corporations: Totem’s design allows corporations to install visually stunning infrastructure into their parking lots and corporate campuses. Totem delivers critical services and simultaneously showcases corporate social responsibility by making it a tangible and interactive part of the built environment. The impactful and experiential nature of Totem makes it a powerful tool for CR.
· Employees: Corporations will retain and motivate employees by offering modern services such as EV charging, wireless coverage and more. With Totem, corporations have a means to deliver those services and powerfully convey corporate ethos around sustainability.
· Customers: Customer experience is one of the most important aspects of running a business. Totem provides corporations a new and differentiated tool to drive value for customers. Totems deliver critical services for the modern facility, while also providing proof-points to reinforce CR. Not only are customers more likely to enjoy the spaces they frequent, but they are more likely to identify with companies that stand for something they believe in.
· Shareholders: In the end, the value to employees and customers shows up in corporate ROI. Totem’s ability to ultimately drive accelerated outcomes and differentiated market positioning for companies is music to shareholders.
CRMag: What is your CSR/sustainability corporate strategy for 2017 and beyond?
BL: Our corporate mission is to enable integration of renewable energy sources into facilities and the larger grid at scale via distributed energy storage. We’re driving beyond just renewable offsets, toward 100% self-consumption of the renewable energy sources we subscribe to. That’s a clear goal for ourselves and for our partners as well.
We’re also focused on incorporating materials and processes that minimize our footprint. That means constantly driving to minimize shipping (local manufacturing), lower impact materials (better battery chemistries, structural elements), and strategies for end-of-life reuse. We’re early in our journey, and excited by how far we think we’ll be able to push things.
CRMag: What is your “Game-changer” message, program, philosophy or take away for our audience
BL: Totem is making renewable energy and smart transportation accessible and visible. Totem is based on the belief that advancement of clean energy, next generation services and responsible practices will be accelerated by bringing smart utility out of the shadows.
Today, too many of the biggest advances in the way we power and connect facilities are hidden on rooftops or behind buildings. Totem is designed to activate both the capabilities and the conversation. The company’s impact will be measured not only by looking at energy savings and the transition of renewable energy, but also by the level of engagement from the community.
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