A Guide to Corporate Sustainability Leadership


Investing in sustainability ensures the planet’s future, and it can also help ensure the longevity of your company. Here are some reasons why it’s more important than ever to be a leader in corporate sustainability, and the steps you can take to become one.


One of the most significant benefits of corporate sustainability is profitability. Investing in renewable energy — a key facet of any company’s sustainability strategy — is low risk, as it allows companies to hedge against rising costs of energy derived from fossil fuels, and provides healthy ROI. In fact, a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey reported on by The Wall Street Journal found that 25% of CEOs view climate-friendly investing as a driver of opportunity, compared to 13% a decade ago. There’s also an element of future-proofing at play. Proactively implementing sustainability measures can save a company compliance costs when new regulations come to pass, putting it on a more competitive footing in the marketplace.

Practicing sustainability also helps companies weather shifts in consumer and investor mindsets. Nearly 70% of consumers consider a company’s sustainability practices when making a purchase, and more than a quarter say it factors into how loyal they remain to a brand. This is why it’s imperative that companies be transparent about their sustainability efforts with their customers. Investors are also placing greater emphasis on sustainability, not only in terms of environmental impact, but how companies are addressing other concerns, such as community development and diversity, across the ESG (environmental, social, and governance) spectrum.

There’s also a move in some sectors, like medical technology, to create “social capital” by making life-saving equipment more affordable and accessible to those who need it. All this goes to remind business leaders that while financial growth is a big motivator for embracing corporate sustainability, there are wider social issues to consider as well.

How Your Company Can Show Leadership in Corporate Sustainability

To be a leader in corporate sustainability is to implement more socially-conscious practices in nearly every aspect of your business, including product design, energy and emissions, supply chain management, and workplace dynamics. It all starts with setting and committing to ambitious yet achievable goals within your organization. One way companies are doing this is by joining global initiatives like RE100. Backed by the Climate Group, RE100 unites companies in a common mission to “match 100% of the electricity used across their global operations with electricity produced from renewable sources.” The 280+ members, including Apple, Johnson & Johnson, and PepsiCo, have pledged to achieve this goal by 2050, with more granular benchmarks along the way. Not only is this a great way for a company to publicize its commitment to corporate sustainability, but it also promotes accountability.

Solar for Corporate Sustainability

Investing in solar energy can help your business meet its sustainability goals while also delivering significant financial rewards. You’ll enjoy energy savings for the life of the solar system (25 or more years) and avoid unpredictable price jumps inherent to fossil fuels, all while reducing your company’s carbon footprint. Plus, if located on your property, solar panels can serve as visible proof of your commitment to corporate sustainability to your employees, customers, and investors.

There are a number of options for commercial and industrial businesses looking to go solar, both in terms of where the system is installed and how it's financed. With onsite solar (also called distributed generation), a solar system is installed on your property. If you finance the system yourself, you'll be able to take full advantage of benefits like the Federal Investment Tax Credit, in addition to saving money on your utility bill by offsetting your energy consumption with the clean energy you produce on site. As an added source of income, companies can sell the renewable energy credits (RECs) they earn. Owning a system outright also carries other benefits like the ability to add storage to the system, as well as increasing the value of the facility.

Companies who don’t wish to finance their own solar project can enter into a power purchase agreement (PPA), in which a solar developer finances and maintains the onsite system and sells the clean energy produced back to the company at a fixed rate that’s often less than utility prices.

Offsite solar, as the name suggests, is when a company takes advantage of a solar system that’s not located on its property. Offsite solar is attractive because an investment is typically not required, there’s no facility operations impact, and it provides a quick win for a company’s sustainability agenda. Green energy benefits can be derived via a “virtual” PPA, among other options like remote net metering and community distributed generation.

Ready to join the ranks of Amazon, Target, PepsiCo, and other big names that are increasing their corporate sustainability with solar? Contact PowerFlex today for a free solar assessment. We manage all aspects of the solar project, including helping you decide if you’d like to own your renewable energy credits or sell them, depending on how you’d like to position the project to the public.