3 ways your business can look into renewable energy and sustainability

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Investing in renewable energy is making more and more business sense. (Getty Images)
Investing in renewable energy is making more and more business sense. (Getty Images)

As the demand for secure energy rises for South African industries, business owners are increasingly looking into renewable energy and sustainability to secure the future of their businesses.

Sustainability is defined as the ability of a system to maintain itself over time. Climate resilience meanwhile is defined as the capacity for a system to absorb stress and maintain function in the face of external stresses imposed upon it by climate change.

For South African businesses, the past few years have seen commercial and agricultural businesses facing these battles on many fronts, be it water scarcity, rising electricity costs, or perpetual load-shedding.

The race is on for profitable businesses to secure their energy needs in the face of climate pressures and increasing social and consumer demands.

As Julie Guest, CEO at New York-based marketing agency Bolder&Louder once remarked: "Sustainability is finally a hot button with businesses of all sizes — not necessarily because it is the right thing to do, but because consumers are demanding it."

According to banking experts, an increasing number of businesses are investigating renewable energy and sustainable practices to help meet their Sustainable Development Goals. In the past, the challenges against meeting this may have been high costs, a lack of knowledge, or perhaps a lack of space for new equipment. Now businesses are starting to see the potential in saving on rising electricity costs, mitigating against load-shedding, and having a caring attitude toward the environment.

With the cost of renewable energy coming down in recent years, it has never been a more pertinent time to investigate moving businesses toward sustainability, says Nedbank Business BankingNedbank Business Banking’s Head of Sustainability Mark Boshoff.

Here are 3 ways your business can start looking into renewable energy, sustainability, and climate resilience in South Africa.

1. Consider small interventions first

A good place to start for your business would be to "pick the low hanging fruit" – easily identifiable issues that have ready solutions. By determining which efficiencies can be gained by small interventions, your business can begin to build the foundations for migrating to sustainability.

"These can include repairing water leaks, switching off machinery when not in use, and replacing energy hungry equipment with more efficient technology," says Boshoff.

"Don’t forget the three Rs as well, which is reducing, reusing and recycling waste. These are good places to start to work with what you already have in your business."

2. Get expert advice and quotes

The amount of knowledge and resources available on the broader sustainability market has grown year-on-year as the industry reaches maturity. Similarly, the number of experts in the field are also growing by experience. Learning what renewable equipment costs, how machinery is replaced, or getting a quote from trusted experts and suppliers can help businesses plan expenditure and outlay.

"Businesses can do this in multiple ways: by obtaining more than one quote from trusted suppliers, by employing an independent energy advisor or auditor to determine the needs and actions required to lessen consumption, and by utilising accredited installers and vendors," says Boshoff.

"Renewable energy and water conservation installations for instance, need not be a vast cash flow outlay, as savings may match or exceed repayments on funding repayments."

3. Partner with a bank that shares the same goals

Banks and financial institutions play a critical role in providing both finance and expertise. "Global sustainability issues including climate change, population growth and resource scarcity require the finance sector lead the charge to adapt as businesses operating in a closed ecology and promote new economic models," says Boshoff.

Known as the 'green bank', Nedbank has been leading the change in finding innovative funding solutions to assist businesses in investing in sustainable practices, equipment and technology. It has also made its own commitments to meet United Nations’ SDG goals ahead of 2050, including becoming 100% carbon neutral.

The bank offers a wide range of funding products to solve for the funding of many of the SDGs including renewable energy, water, food production, and waste recycling, and solutions can be tailored to individual business needs.

"Our financing products assist our clients to create sustainable value through the reduction of their environmental impacts and enabling them to operate more efficiently and safely," says Boshoff.

Partnering with a bank that can provide expertise in this area also puts businesses in touch with trusted suppliers and vendors, and ensures investment in sustainability will be profitable for businesses in the long run.

To learn more about Sustainability at Nedbank, click HEREhere.

If you would like a Call Back from a trusted Nedbank adviser, then find out more HERE.

This post was sponsored by Nedbank and produced by BrandStudio24.

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