While an increasing number of companies are coming to recognise the long-term benefits of environmentally responsible practices, it’s impossible for them to invest significantly in such practices unless there is a coherent business case for doing so.
The good news is that such a business case exists, in part thanks to the growing recognition that carbon-based sources of electricity are only going to get more expensive, while the cost of installing renewables is already coming down. With that in mind, companies from Microsoft to Boeing to Phillips now measure the monetary value that sustainable practices bring to their businesses.
Leading international healthcare group Bupa has used such evidence to build a strong case for investment in energy-saving measures, establishing a £20 million Energy Saver Fund to invest in carbon reduction projects during 2014. This will help it to meet its public commitment to reduce its carbon footprint by 20% by 2015, against a 2009 baseline. Not only does this fit with Bupa’s mission to have a big impact on world health, with a positive impact on the environment, supporting Bupa’s purpose to deliver longer, healthier, happier lives – it will also save the company money. David Bent, Director of Sustainable Business at Forum for the Future, outlines the advantages: “With the demands that come with running a large organisation, it’s easy to miss the profit opportunities that come with projects that reduce carbon. Often when companies look closely, they realise that saving carbon provides good, if not better, rates of return. If something gives you a good return and it is the right thing to do, then why wouldn’t you?”
Bupa admits that its performance to date against its 20% carbon emissions reduction target has been slow. Recognising this, it held a companywide workshop in November 2013 to discuss energy-saving options. It was here that CEO Stuart Fletcher helped turn the concept of a central funding mechanism for direct, on-site carbon reduction projects into a reality, leading to the announcement of the Bupa Energy Saver Fund the following month. Applicants from Bupa’s global offices must meet tight criteria around payback, speed of implementation and carbon impact.
The majority of the £20 million fund has now been allocated, to speed the implementation of carbon reduction projects from Miami to Manchester over the coming year, including LED lighting, CHP and solar projects. Bupa’s sustainability work prior to the implementation of the Energy Saver Fund includes a care home in Caulfield, Australia, which achieved a reduction in use of 10,000kWh of electricity between 2011 and 2012, or Aus $12,000 (£7,000), through measures such as roof insulation and energy use monitoring. In England, the installation of new LED light technologies at Care Services’ Richmond House offices has reduced lighting consumption by 9,000kWh, representing a £1,000 annual saving. Richmond House has been used to test the lighting technology and to monitor the savings for a wider roll out across other Bupa offices globally.
Bupa expects that the Energy Saver Fund, along with other measures already in place, will drive rapid action towards meeting its 2015 goal, affirming its position as a significant global player in corporate carbon reduction. Its ambition was recognised late last year with the award of the Carbon Trust Standard, a global certification scheme for commitment to measuring, managing and reducing carbon footprints. Bupa is one of only a handful of companies to achieve this standard globally, and the first private healthcare company to do so.
According to Bupa’s Chief Financial Officer, Evelyn Bourke, sustainable energy measures go hand in hand with beneficial economic impacts: “Long-term growth can’t be separated from economic, social, health and environmental issues. As well as being the right thing to do for the planet and health, the Bupa Energy Saver Fund also makes business sense: we can cut costs and enhance efficiency, mitigate risk, open up new competitive and revenue opportunities, drive innovation and develop our employees. It really is a win all round.” – Tess Riley
Bupa is a Forum for the Future partner. www.bupa.co.uk
Photo credit: CS UK