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Why Renewable Energy Is Now a Requirement for CSR

Words by 3p Contributor
Leadership & Transparency
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By: Megan Wild

One of the most relevant and effectively conveyed forms of corporate social responsibility is renewable energy. With countries all around the world committing to renewable energy goals in the Paris Agreement, companies can also take the lead.

Here are four reasons that renewable energy is a "must" for your company’s commitment to social responsibility.

Long-Term Employee Productivity Is Threatened


As the Paris Agreement showed, many of the world’s biggest countries are implementing costly-but-necessary plans in an effort to make renewable energy 100 percent by 2050. The big reason for this is that the effects of global warming are very real. In a business sense, global warming is set to cost the economy over a trillion dollars by 2030, with real concerns over increasing heat contributing to a lack of production.

According to Dr. Tord Kjellstrom, heat has a big impact on the workplace. “If you are physically active in work, the hotter it is, the slower you work. Your body adapts to the heat and in doing that it protects you from the heat," he explains. “For individual countries, even within a short timespan, the losses due to the increasing heat can be in the many billions.”

Clearly, global warming has the potential to influence employee effectiveness for the worse, which is something the business world should strive to avoid.

Renewables Are Becoming Cheaper And More Efficient


Renewable energy certainly isn’t a fad. There's now three times more wind power and 15 times more solar power in the world than in 2007.

Previously, a big barrier, especially for small businesses, to renewable energy efforts was the price.

However, over the past few years, the gap is closing. Solar and wind energy have declined substantially in cost; with onshore wind electricity falling 18 percent since 2009 and turbine costs falling 30 percent since 2008. This makes wind power the cheapest source of new electricity. For solar energy, the price has fallen by 80 percent since 2008, making a once-unobtainable energy source a very real consideration for homes and businesses alike.

As technology improves, renewable energy is also becoming more efficient. In years past, traditional solar panels would only work in areas with a high amount of clear and sunny days. The development of thin-film solar panels has improved efficiency during cloudy conditions, which increases the geographic areas that can use solar power.

As a result of dropping prices and increased efficiency, businesses can now pursue renewable energy without sacrificing a hefty sum. A business that publicly declares their renewable energy usage provides a positive perception among current and prospective clients. It showcases a business that cares about the world we live in.

In an age where the public perceives corporations as acting me-first, sustainability provides a breath of fresh air. It makes a business look better than their competition not using or promoting renewables.

Increased Employment Opportunities


A recent Greenpeace estimate found that, if the world switched 70 percent of electricity programs to renewable energy, the resulting savings would be $180 billion each year. Research like this shows little reason to fear economically for renewable energy implementation. Actually, improved renewable energy initiatives have boosted employment, with 380,000 new jobs created in Germany — where one-quarter of their national energy demands are being met by renewables.

While businesses do not have the resources of an entire country, it’s realistic for a business to cut costs using renewable energy. In some companies, this cost-saving measure could help them either raise salaries of hire more employees, thus growing their company. Saving on costs is something coveted by any business; and if renewable energy can play a role in that cost-cutting, it’s an added benefit.

The Impact Is Visible


Some corporate social responsibility plans do great work in improving the environment, which is very commendable. However, they often miss out on the publicity benefits that could come regardless. Some actions are less visible than others, though adapting and promoting renewable energy can be very visible. Especially when a business has solar technology outside of their offices.

Bottom Line: Renewable Energy Is Good for Business


A business that adapts to renewable energy should do so visibly, as it has a positive public stigma. Visible solar energy initiatives, for instance, are a great way to shift public perception toward the positive.

The four reasons listed here emphasize why renewable energy should be part of your company’s commitment to social responsibility. In addition to possible cost savings, it also has the potential for a very positive PR impact; along with a morale boost among employees and customers alike. Renewable energy looks pretty good for business.

Megan Wild writes about upcoming sustainability trends in the residential and commercial real estate markets. You can catch her tweeting about those trends @Megan_Wild.

Image credit: Walmart, Flickr

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