Three ways businesses can lighten their carbon footprints

Three ways businesses can lighten their carbon footprints
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Fewer island-bound flights, commutes to the office, and business trips are some of the happy accidents of the pandemic era, representing big wins for the environment. Now, as the temporary green gains reach a moot point, the old sustainability questions regarding business activities and processes are rolling back. So where can leaders start? 

The first step towards a positive environmental transition is for businesses to understand that sustainability and profitability are not opposing forces, but rather go hand in hand. As the biggest contributors to global CO2 levels, businesses face an unprecedented energy challenge: reduce their overall emissions in order to thrive in the new decarbonized economy, while reaching new goals in terms of resiliency, financial growth, and generated value. 

According to consumer research, nearly 70% of Americans and Canadians think it’s important for brands to be sustainable or eco-friendly. Leading asset managers, including BlackRock and State Street, believe honing in on sustainability will improve a company’s overall valuation. Considering these high-level benefits, businesses across the globe have already taken concrete action to reduce their carbon footprints. And they’re here to tell the tale—with useful and insightful tips for institutions that are starting their own sustainability journeys.

Tune into your target demo   

Boston is one of the United States’ most lauded college towns—home to 35 universities and colleges. Nestled within the city’s Dorchester neighborhood is the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston): a 120-acre campus serving more than 16,000 students. 

College freshmen might not need 25-year plans, but public research universities do. Part of UMass Boston’s current blueprint is to make its campus more environmentally sustainable by the year 2046. The university enlisted Enel X—Enel Group’s global business line offering innovative solutions that support the energy transition—to help them implement a fully financed sustainability project. 

Together, the institutions came up with a three-pronged solution: two parts solar, one part storage. The installation includes a photovoltaic system (better known as solar panels), lithium-ion battery storage, and charging stations to power the skyrocketing number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads. 

Equipped with this tripartite setup, UMass Boston is reducing its overall electricity charges by consuming low-cost energy when the power grid is most expensive, like during the months of July or August. The project’s benefits surpass the campus quad, too. UMass Boston is contributing to the city’s zero-emission vehicle roadmap, and New England is rewarding the university for its contribution to regional energy-saving efforts. Overall, the initiative is projected to save UMass Boston nearly $1.5 million dollars. 

Today, a green campus infrastructure isn’t just a “nice to have.” According to Pew Research Center, Gen Zers—the age group making up the majority of incoming college students—are more likely to champion climate action and support the phasing out of fossil fuels than their older peers. Plus, nearly 73% of them are willing to pay more for products that are sustainable. For businesses looking to attract this demo, taking even a few steps to promote environmental prosperity will necessarily lead to a positive outcome. 

LEED the way in all markets 

If you’ve ever rented an apartment in New York City, you’ve probably heard of Con Edison: the energy company serving more than 750,000 of the city’s buildings. If you lived there in 2003, you’ll also remember the historic blackout that nearly obliterated the entire state, as well as New Jersey, Maryland, Ontario, Canada, and more. 

This past year, energy needs soared to accommodate online classrooms, virtual meetings, and telemedicine appointments. Luckily, in 2019, ConEd and Enel X jumpstarted green initiatives that helped this pandemic shift to run smoothly. 

The core of the project is an interconnected battery storage system, which ConEd now claims as the largest of its kind in New York City. Housed within a LEED-certified center in the Brooklyn borough, the battery conjoins with ConEd’s preexisting grid, allowing for a seamless relationship between the two companies’ resources. The new system has deferred the need for apartment tenants to get wrapped up in their energy management and for ConEd to invest in expensive upgrades. The infrastructure helps keep service reliable in moments—or in the case of the pandemic, months—of high demand, mitigating the possibility of early aughts-style citywide darkness. A win-win-win.

Companies for whom real estate is central to business might consider this kind of highly replicable structure. If a battery can conquer a market as expansive as New York City, it can take on anywhere. 

Catch up with China

Working toward environmental welfare is not just a North American thing. As of 2020, China touted the world’s largest EV market, accounting for half the global trade’s sales. By 2030, at least 40% of all cars sold in China will be electric. 

To meet the needs of the country’s booming EV future, Enel X is installing charging systems in China for residential buildings and city districts, offering different products for different needs: the household-size “JuiceBox”—stylish, WiFi-controlled EV chargers for families; “JuicePumps,” uber-fast stations that can power up to two vehicles at a time, for communities at large, perfectly suited for urban areas and far-off roads; and “JuicePoles,” solutions for compact urban areas such as shopping centers and parking lots.  

Even in 2019, the year in which Covid-19 erupted, EVs defended 2.6%—their highest ever share—of the international car market. Global sales continue to grow, and 2030 projections indicate that EV enterprises will fare better than the world’s overall vehicle landscape. 

Sustainability is a business mandate, from consumers and mother nature herself. Investing in green energy for vehicles and city systems now could set you ahead of the road’s curve. And guess what? There’s a long drive ahead.

Read more about Enel X’s sustainability collaborations, and check out their technologies and innovation for smart energy solutions.