The Sustainable Business Project: a holistic new framework for organisational sustainability management towards a purposeful, inclusive and greener future
In an era characterised by environmental challenges and a growing imperative for corporate social responsibility, sustainable business practices have become not just a choice but a necessity for organisations worldwide. Using sustainability assessments rooted in rigorous research is a valuable way to support decision-making in organisations towards socially responsible and environmentally-friendly operations. The Centre for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Surrey has launched The Sustainable Business Project, a research study, to investigate approaches to organisational sustainability management and corporate social responsibility including large companies, SMEs, public sector and third sector organisations. Organisations interested in gaining a free assessment of sustainability are invited to participate in the project.
This article explores the concept of how a new model for holistic sustainability measurement and management can contribute to responsible business, including the wellbeing of communities, to help organisations thrive in the 21st century. Looking ahead to Human Rights Day on 10th December, it is timely to consider how sustainable business activities should include weighing the social impacts of operations, safeguarding the health and wellbeing of employees and the communities they operate in.
Why manage sustainability?
Sustainability has become an integral aspect of corporate strategy and decision-making. Our sustainability research focuses on the intersection of economic, environment and social activities, using a new framework that can be used to manage business success reconciled with the long-term health of our environment and society. The practical, adaptable sustainability framework developed as a part of the project, used to evaluate the impact of complex interconnected business operations, supported by a responsible and holistic business model, can ultimately contribute to the wellbeing of employees and communities along with reducing environmental impacts. The outputs from this project can enable businesses to benchmark their sustainability performance and go further to become regenerative and inclusive.
A new sustainability model – the 7E model for sustainability management has been developed for this project and has been used in the first phase of the study to assess approaches to business sustainability, decarbonisation and net zero progress, CSR and employee wellbeing. These results have been presented at international conferences recently. The advantage of the 7E model is its flexible and holistic approach to support business sustainability management.
Seven reasons for organisations to take part
The sustainable business project measures sustainability with data conveniently collected via an online survey that gives an overall sustainability score and sectional scores for seven key areas of the business, along with a Triple Bottom Line (TBL) score (economic, environment, social). Organisations in various stages of their sustainability journey, of all sizes and sectors can take part. The research project analyses approaches to materials management, decarbonisation, energy, emissions, social impact and governance to produce a sustainability index to support sustainability planning.
The 7E model (Figure 1) measures seven key areas of organisational sustainability, and overall sustainability performance using over 70 indicators.
Examples of sustainability indicators assessed by the 7E model.
The seven themes measured by the 7E model can contribute to responsible business strategy with several key benefits.
Implementing sustainable practices can lead to reduced resource consumption and waste, ultimately lowering operational costs. Companies with strong economic sustainability records may have better access to investors, markets, and partnerships, as sustainability is increasingly a factor in investment decisions. Being ahead of regulatory changes and consumer demands can offer a first-mover advantage.
Reducing resource consumption and waste, along with circularity practices minimises costs and environmental impact, improving materials and resource efficiency. Demonstrating environmental responsibility can enhance a company’s image, attract environmentally conscious consumers, and help avoid reputational risks associated with environmental negligence. Meeting or exceeding environmental regulations can prevent fines and legal issues and ease compliance.
Embracing innovation with sustainable technology can foster innovation and open up new market opportunities. Innovation not only improves a company’s environmental footprint, but also often results in the development of sustainable, greener products and services that can capture new markets and gain competitive advantage.
Efficient energy consumption through sustainable practices can result in significant cost savings. Investing in renewable energy sources can make a business more resilient to energy price fluctuations and supply disruptions. Measuring emissions and decarbonisation actions will support net zero transition planning.
A focus on social sustainability, such as providing fair wages, diversity, inclusivity and a safe working environment, can lead to higher employee engagement. Consumers often favour companies that engage in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), with positive social impact which can lead to improved reputation, long term employee retention and competitive edge.
Adhering to ethical principles in business practices builds trust with stakeholders and can enhance a company’s long-term credibility. Ethical business practices can help mitigate legal, climate-related and reputational risks.
Strong governance practices ensure transparency, accountability, and compliance with laws and regulations. Stakeholders are more likely to support companies with sound governance structures, reducing the cost of capital.
Sustainable business is no longer a mere ethical consideration but a strategic imperative for organisations today. The benefits – including cost savings, brand reputation, access to new markets, employee engagement, risk mitigation, and long-term viability make sustainability management a key consideration for businesses of all sizes and sectors. As the world becomes more conscious of its environmental and social responsibilities, organisations that incorporate a holistic sustainability model inclusive of employee and community wellbeing into their core operations are better positioned for long-term success, profitability, and a greener, more sustainable future. In a rapidly changing world where sustainability is becoming increasingly important to consumers, investors, and governments, businesses that embrace sustainability across all dimensions are better positioned for long-term success and growth. The 7E model used in this research can support a systems-based interconnected sustainability approach with flexibility for use by any size of company, with granular insights and comparability.
We would like to invite any organisations interested in gaining a free assessment of sustainability using the 7E model and other insights to take part in this project. Data is confidentially held, and results are anonymised. Companies that took part in phase one of this project have found the insights useful for implementing sustainability improvements.
Active Travel for Workplaces
Transport generates the most greenhouse gas emissions in Surrey, but swapping the car for walking, cycling or public transport brings benefits to the environment and beyond. Improved staff health and wellbeing, reduction in staff absences and increased productivity are just some of the pluses identified by the transport charity Sustrans
That’s why Active Surrey and Surrey County Council are working to help you help your staff travel more sustainably. Surrey County Council has teamed up with BetterPoints, a reward scheme which enables staff who walk, cycle and use public transport for part or all of their journeys earn vouchers to spend in high street stores or to donate to charity. Our Surrey Liftshare service enables employees to link with other members of their community who live nearby and make similar trips by car. Cycling training sessions are available for colleagues who would love to cycle but whose confidence is low. Interested?
One-stop-shop to help businesses save money and go green
British businesses will be able to access new advice and support to reduce their energy bills and cut their carbon emissions from the UK Business Climate Hub.
British businesses will be able to access brand new advice and support to reduce their energy bills while cutting their carbon emissions.
- Business website offers new help for Britain’s 5.5 million SMEs to save on their energy bills while reducing their emissions
- the hub will provide small businesses with advice on everything from paying less for EVs, getting a low-carbon heat pump, to generating green energy and selling it back to the grid to make money
- comes as industry leaders and ministers on the new Net Zero Council call on all businesses from Aberystwyth to Aberdeen to develop net zero sector roadmaps
“People Planet Pastry or Pint is all about action, and bringing together local small businesses to hear about action that is going on locally, and know where to start themselves.
Whether you’re well on your way, or haven’t started, you’re more than welcome to come along. Free to attend. It’s all about sharing successes and challenges small businesses are facing to collectively build an action plan.
You might also want to consider the nationwide People Planet Pint meet up on 7th December for COP28. This will be a unified alternative COP28 event, with PPP’s all over the country at the same time, to give those who may be tired of the relentless news cycle somewhere to come and feel heard, and learn about local action they can get involved with. You’re invited to join us at the “Congress of the People Planet Pints”, or “COPPP28”.
If you’re curious about climate and want to learn more about what you can do individually or through your work, join others at COPPP28 to find out more about what’s happening in your area and how you can get involved.
Take the first step to a net zero future! SMES can get the standard (free)
The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and British Standards Institution (BSI) have partnered to help SMEs reduce their energy bills and cut carbon. BEIS is sponsoring 100,000 FREE downloads of the energy management standard, BS ISO 50005. The standard is designed to help SMES manage their energy performance, which is crucial to controlling energy bills and minimise carbon emissions. It simplifies the implementation of an energy management system, and gives organisations with limited resources the means to develop a practical, low-cost approach to energy management.
South2East Local Energy Strategy
The strategy, produced with technical consultants Siemens, was launched in March 2019, to help meet the UK’s statutory climate change targets for 2032 and 2050.
The shared vision for our region is to become a leader for sustainable energy production within the UK, powering innovative, decarbonised and clean economic growth. South2East Local Energy Strategy | Coast 2 Capital
ZERO is a community space set up to drive a community-led climate action plan. Promoting education and solutions for climate mitigation and adaptation, we’re bringing together the work happening locally to help the borough adapt to a changing planet.
They have lots of exciting events coming up – click on the link below to find out more.
5D Net Zero Ltd – A Newly Launched Surrey Hills Based Carbon Management Consultancy – Can Help Your Business Become Carbon Neutral and Reach Net Zero
With the UK government targets set to reach Net Zero by 2050, it has never been more important for businesses to take action to mitigate climate change. 5D Net Zero – a newly launched carbon management consultancy – helps local businesses to reduce carbon emissions, become carbon neutral today and ultimately achieve net zero by 2050, in line with the UK Government’s commitment under the Climate Change Act.
5D Net Zero supports businesses in every step of their journey to net zero by delivering tailored carbon footprint measurements to identify the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), carbon reduction plans and certified carbon credit offsets using the most widely used and internationally recognised standards.
Our expertise and advisory excellence enable businesses to strengthen their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), stake holder engagement and corporate reputation, whilst driving commercial performance and long-term resilience through risk management.
Calculating a business’s carbon footprint is the first step towards reaching net zero. GHG emissions are categorised into three ‘Scopes’ that are based on the emissions a business creates. 5D Net Zero utilises all three Scopes when measuring carbon emissions and works closely with businesses to establish their carbon footprint baseline and identify the most meaningful carbon reductions, throughout their operations and values chains.
5D Net Zero works in partnership with businesses, using the GHG data from a carbon footprint to create a carbon reduction plan that includes carefully identified carbon reduction targets and defined actions to achieve the goals set by a business. Our bespoke carbon reduction plans allow businesses to implement effective carbon reduction strategies, monitor progress, and reduce emissions to a minimum before offsetting the unavoidable residual emissions.
We help businesses navigate the voluntary carbon-market to become carbon neutral, from as little as £5 per tonne of CO2eq*, through the purchase of certified carbon credits that can be claimed towards balancing their own GHG emissions, to achieve carbon neutrality or net zero. 5D Net Zero works closely with independent carbon reduction project developers across the globe – because wherever in the world carbon is offset, the effect on climate is the same. We offer a portfolio of certified carbon offset projects that are best suited to a business’s unique requirements and ethical goals, all the projects have gained the Verified Carbon Standard administered by Verra and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
*At today’s prices
SAV & Energiraven
Until recently, the UK has had access to an abundant and cheap supply of fossil fuels. However, Denmark has been on the journey of reducing the cost of energy since the global oil crisis of the 1970s. This has been driven forward by high carbon taxes and a national desire for reliable, low carbon energy supplies.
EnergiRaven was established in the UK by SAV Systems. As a company of Danish heritage, SAV have instinctively looked towards the experiences of Denmark and its Scandinavian neighbours to introduce low carbon renewable technology solutions to the UK.
The purpose of EnergiRaven is to help building owners achieve their Net Zero targets.
As a platform, EnergiRaven is designed to help understand, plan, and navigate the optimum route to Net Zero.
EnergiRaven does this through energy education, state of the art carbon management tools, and energy performance reporting.
For more information call 01483 227500 or click on the button below to visit their website.
The Environmental Impacts of Space Management FINAL – click to read
Exclusive Offer from Goodlight for Surrey Chamber of Commerce Members
As a new member of the Surrey Chamber of Commerce and with energy prices on the increase, Goodlight would like to offer any member a free site survey. Together we can work together to reduce your carbon footprint.
To register your interest, please complete the form on our contact us page and a member of our team will be in contact to arrange the site survey.
Businesses can save up to 85% in lighting energy & maintenance cost reduction. Now is the right time with energy prices on the increase
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LED lighting & control upgrades improve the EPC rating of your building and your investment into LED lighting attracts tax incentives^ (subject to status).
Save on your lighting costs and reduce your energy bills and CO2 emissions. Goodlight offers:
• 20% off Lighting Supply & Installation
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• Net Zero Marketing Support
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(Terms & Conditions apply).