4 Steps to Developing a Sustainability Plan

4 Steps to Developing a Sustainability Plan

The global pandemic and economic fallout, a heightened focus on carbon mitigation, and the rapid advancement of renewable energy technologies have forced commercial and industrial businesses to reshape their traditional energy mix and establish sustainability goals.

There is mounting pressure on today’s business leaders to integrate renewable energy into their corporate energy mix and to have a sustainability plan in place as part of a larger ESG (environmental, social, and governance) initiative.

For most organizations, sustainability is no longer a choice–it’s a business requirement.

Sustainability is a Journey–Not a Destination

As a cornerstone for ESG, sustainability touches many areas of a business–beyond environmental impacts. Sustainability encompasses the business programs, products, and practices of an organization that support environmental preservation, economic development, and corporate social responsibility. 

Becoming a more sustainable organization takes time and there is no finish line. Your organization’s sustainability plan will continually evolve as energy technologies advance, carbon mitigation mandates progress, your business grows, and your energy needs change.  

Renewable energy has a foundational role in sustainability. But, transitioning to an energy strategy that includes renewable energy sources can be a nuanced and complex process. It requires understanding your energy consumption across the entire organization, uncovering opportunities for improvement, setting sustainability goals, and monitoring your progress. In order to do this, a deep dive into your energy data is essential.

Analyzing your specific energy usage over time can uncover opportunities for:

  • Reduced energy costs
  • Reduced carbon emissions
  • Reduced reliance on the grid
  • Greater budget certainty
  • Improved energy efficiency
  • Improved competitive advantage
  • Improved employee retention and customer loyalty
  • Compliance with carbon mitigation requirements and reporting

Although most organizations don’t have the in-house expertise to strategically source renewable energy and measure and monitor energy data, leveraging an energy consulting service can help. A strong sustainability plan requires robust energy monitoring and reporting, strong stakeholder buy in, and a unique corporate energy mix that meets business needs, cuts carbon emissions and supports ESG outcomes.  

Sustainability is Driven by Stakeholders

The stakeholders in your sustainability plan are not only the leadership team, board members, and employees, but also your clients, investors, and suppliers. Stakeholders are your catalysts for change. It’s important to communicate your sustainability plan and goals and to establish a corporate culture that keeps the momentum going.  

Internal stakeholders – your leadership team, board members, and employees–need to understand what you intend to accomplish, why it’s important, and how each person can contribute to company-wide success. Be sure to assign responsibility and accountability to the appropriate internal stakeholders and attract, develop, and retain talent that will support and enable sustainability.

External stakeholders–clients, prospects, suppliers, and investors–are becoming aware of a company’s dedication to and transparency around sustainability and ESG initiatives. Your external stakeholders should not only understand your organization’s commitment to sustainability but have visibility to your ESG criteria and positive sustainability outcomes. There are many ways to communicate this information to your external audience.

4 Steps to Developing Your Sustainability Plan 

1. Conduct a Sustainability Assessment

Implementing a sustainability plan requires that you measure, monitor, and manage your organization’s unique energy usage based on the data.

  • Get a comprehensive view of energy consumption across the organization
  • Establish energy reports to benchmark current data and monitor progress
  • Identify opportunities for energy efficiency, cost reduction, and carbon mitigation
  • Develop reports to measure and monitor energy usage and environmental impact

2. Establish Sustainability Goals

A sustainability plan typically includes the overarching goal to reduce carbon emissions, in addition to addressing environmental, economic, and social equity goals. Establish both short-term and long-term goals and determine timing, funding, and responsibilities related to each.

Short-term goals 

  • Review supplier contract structure and utility bills
  • Raise awareness with all stakeholders
  • Establish an internal sustainability task force 
  • Identify internal opportunities to conserve energy and save money
    • Implement a corporate recycling program
    • Reduce the use of paper, plastics, single-use products
    • Reduce travel via video conferences and work-from-home policies
  • Measure current energy metrics across the entire organization
  • Develop and execute energy efficiency initiatives  

Long-term goals

  • Ensure supplier contracts are accurate and favorable
  • Integrate renewable energy into your energy mix
  • Benchmark and monitor energy metrics and carbon emissions
  • Establish sustainability reporting criteria and communication plan
  • Set carbon mitigation goals and monitor environmental impact
  • Engage suppliers and help them adopt more sustainable practices

3. Implement Internal Governance

A plan is not actionable without governance. Build your sustainability roadmap, gain stakeholder buy-in, share your plans, assign tasks, and manage all aspects.

  • Establish corporate culture and leadership buy-in
  • Develop and share sustainability goals and mission statement
  • Establish transparency and empower employee participation
  • Collaborate and communicate with stakeholders at all levels
  • Keep internal and external stakeholders informed as you make progress

4. Track, Analyze, and Communicate Your Progress

Track, analyze, and report your progress based on the sustainability goals you’ve established. Communication should include a clear explanation of your plan, your goals (e.g. emissions reduction, short-term goals, long-term goals), and how each aspect supports sustainability or resolves a challenge.

Build Your Plan Based on Your Unique Data

You can’t start your sustainability plan until you have visibility into the comprehensive energy data that will drive your plan. Based on the insights and opportunities revealed through your unique energy data, you can build out the rest of your goals and initiatives such as carbon reduction goals, assigned responsibilities, priorities, communication plan, timeline, and allocation of resources.

Premier Power Solutions has developed an innovative energy optimization tool that can analyze your unique energy data and identify opportunities for cost savings, carbon reduction, renewable energy integration, and energy management–providing you with a sustainability roadmap filled with actionable results that can help you successfully develop your sustainability strategy and continually monitor your progress.

Whether your customized results call for energy efficiency initiatives, renewable energy sources, demand response programs, different supply contract structures, or all the above, Premier Power Solutions can be your trusted partner to analyze and source your ideal solutions. Contact us today to request your Sustainability Assessment today.