Beyond Green: “Organisations across the world need to make it easier for the environment to recover from resource depletion”

Beyond Green are a team of environmental consultants “dedicated to helping organisations become more sustainable”. Focusing on the profitability, risk management, and reputation of businesses, Beyond Green attempt to develop and inspire teams to become vehicles for environmental change.

Winners of the Vision in Business for the Environment of Scotland (VIBES) Awards in 2018 and a Certified B Corp, we thought it fitting to interview Lisa Bertrand, Beyond Green’s Operations and Communications Director on sustainability, ‘future proofing’, and the business case for incorporating the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into all business models.

1. In your opinion, what does it mean for a business to make a positive environmental impact and why should it be a concern for mainstream business?

All businesses rely on the extraction and/or the consumption of resources to perform their operations from the electricity to run computers at stock exchanges to the soil nutrients absorbed by the food served in a restaurant. The rate at which we currently consume these resource is too high to allow time for the ecosystems to replenish the stocks. Reducing or avoiding environmental impact, which is about pollution and extraction, is no longer enough to ensure businesses survival through climate breakdown.

Organisations across the world need to make it easier for the environment to recover from mainstream pollution and resource depletion.

Identifying the resources your business rely on the most, assessing what the risks are as these resources become increasingly difficult to supply and finding sustainable alternatives is the way forward for businesses to innovate and strive in a low carbon economy.

2. What is the relationship between profitability, green credentials and reputation?

Our very first client was Castle Group Scotland, a Structural and Civil Engineering Company who needed to develop an Environmental Management System for a Scottish Power Contract – replacing a bridge to one of their remote weirs. We prepared their plan, which was risk-based, proportional and pragmatic to the environmental issues they faced and could be implemented on site. Scottish Power was impressed with their environmental practices and responsibilities: they awarded them a follow on project for another bridge. The company director’s commitment to implementing best practice measures ensured their certification to ISO14001, winning the SME Management Award (VIBES 2012) and being finalists at Finance for the Future Awards 2015.

Castle management system has helped them developed a reputation as a responsible company working over or near water in sensitive environments, including marine areas. The robust system and measures to mitigate climate change risk have help them provide reliable evidence to recover costs from flood-related incidents.  They are active in resource efficiency and the company’s diversion from landfill runs around 90%. They won contracts for civil engineering projects (Aberdeen Music Hall) were a waste to product approach to reduc waste costs by 30%. The company recognises the need to continually invest in training, especially site teams to ensure their commitment is realised on the ground.

 Castle Group Scotland remote weir

3. What next steps do mainstream businesses need to take in order to secure a sustainable future?

The next steps for businesses to secure a sustainable future is to look into the circular economy. It might sound like a buzzword to most organisations but as Emma from Resource Futures says, it is a step by step approach building on existing practice and focusing on the core value the business is providing its customers with and how to provide that same value differently.

We are at a watershed moment, approaching a crisis point. All business advisors from lawyers to sustainability practitioners including accountants need to inspire and support through the process.

As trusted advisors to the business community, we all need to have conversations with our clients about how resilient their businesses are to the changing expectations of customers, the scarcity of resources, and the unpredictable impacts of climate change.

Recently, we presented a case study to an accountancy firm – a hotel that saved £20,000 from resource efficiency measures and renewable technology. We didn’t know it was their client! The point we made is – your clients are doing this, how many more could you help build a profitable and resilient business by embedding sustainability into the business model?

4. The UN Sustainable Development Goals seem to be a key focal point for Beyond Green. Why is it important to integrate these goals into all business models, not just those which are intrinsically value-based?

The UN Sustainable Development Goals encompass human minimum needs to thrive and flourish. Any business relying on human input should integrate these goals as a basic governance framework. At Beyond Green we live and breath the SDGs as individuals deeply connect with the issues they focus on and we measure our performance as an organisation against the relevant 169 targets. All business models can integrate the SDGs as a powerful tool to inform their business strategy,  engage their workforce and meet society’s changing expectation.

To learn more about Beyond Green, their previous projects, and what they can offer your business, head over to their website. You can also follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn. For a snapshot or overview of your own business’ environmental impact, take our 30-minute Quick Impact Assessment now and B the Change.

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