Steve headshotBy Steve Seifried, Tennessee Account Executive at Ameresco and TAEBC Board President

Environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) goals are an explicit way for an organization to define how it plans to conduct operations that will help to address some of the greater challenges facing the world.  

With or without these ESG goals, corporate leadership decisions and resulting business operations have impacts on our broader environment and community. The most impactful and long-standing companies leave a positive, sustainable legacy in the world, in addition to making a good living for their leadership, employees and investors. Thoughtful, strategic ESG goals are an important tool many organizations use to define and achieve the positive impacts to which they aspire. 

Establishing ESG goals is essential to Ameresco

Ameresco’s core business has been to provide clean, green and sustainable solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions for our customers. By working closely with our clients on their ESG and sustainability goals, we have helped them achieve extraordinary success.  

Since 2010, our customer projects and renewable assets have contributed over 60 million metric tons of carbon reduction. As a company, we considered the success of our customers’ ESG efforts as one of our primary contributions towards an ESG strategy. Yet a few years ago, Ameresco leadership felt we could do much more.  

Sustainability has always been at the forefront of Ameresco’s business — from our energy-saving customer projects and clean-energy generation assets to green workplace initiatives and giving back to our communities. In 2020, our 1000+ employees delivered over $1 billion in advanced energy solutions to a wide range of public and private institutions.  

From this expertise, we became great at quantifying economic, energy and carbon reduction impacts resulting from Ameresco’s projects. But how did our corporate transparency and governance measure up? And what other environmental, social-diversity and operational goals should be modified or considered? Has Ameresco formally quantified its own corporate net-zero targets?

Staying ahead of the curve and at the leading edge of the innovations taking place in the cleantech and advanced energy sectors takes a unique commitment. Accordingly, Ameresco formally quantifies and shares its own ESG goals on an annual basis. Further, it recently committed to broaden its ESG commitments

By taking these steps, we reinforce why ESG goals are important to our mission, what we have achieved and how our strategies are evolving to meet these growing challenges. We believe that Ameresco’s ESG leadership – both internally and with our customers – will serve as a useful example for others. 

Helping organizations make or reach their ESG goals 

Cleantech and advanced energy solutions are just one piece of any organization’s corporate ESG strategy. Yet, they often become the most impactful in reaching carbon-reduction goals. 

For Ameresco, one great example of this is a regional hospital system project. With 15 installations completed and another 15 in the works across California, this system’s commitment to solar energy is an important piece of the puzzle for their commitment to electric grid resiliency from the impacts of devastating wildfires. This strategic, long-term plan currently provides an affordable, reliable and environmentally sustainable source of electricity required for their hospital operations.  

Organizations who find the greatest success from an ESG approach have begun to define sustainability goals or have a better idea of what goals they want to accomplish. These may be lower energy costs, smaller carbon footprint, growing commitment to sustainable energy, better energy tracking/management, net-zero goals and more.

However, many organizations recognize that “they don’t know what they don’t know” about advanced energy. They understand where their own strengths are, have a direction they want to pursue and are looking for a technical partner who can guide them to the right mix of solutions to help them achieve their goals. 

ESG goals require long-term strategy and lasting change

Most ESG goals require a long-term strategy. Dramatic changes in the energy infrastructure will directly impact a business over the next decade. Resources will shift toward decarbonization and focus on distributed technologies, especially solar, battery storage, microgrids and renewable fuels. Not only will these changes impact costs of energy, but the financial benefits of reliability and resiliency of energy supplies will and have become much more important and relevant for many organizations.

Ultimately, meeting ESG goals requires a change in behaviors and capital investment. These decisions are rarely easy for companies, requiring buy-in throughout the organization, especially from the top. 

If your organization is considering implementing ESG goals, start developing relationships with an energy industry partner today who can help forge this trust and navigate the process. Make time to research and meet with a few advanced energy professionals. They will gladly share their expertise, offer initial guidance and provide direction for how you might move forward. 

And if you already have an energy partner, do not hesitate to open a dialogue with another. So much is changing in this sector – it’s worth your time to seek new insight for your research and planning.

Seifried spoke on this topic at TAEBC’s 2021 Opportunities in Energy. Learn more about that event here or about Ameresco, a valued TAEBC member here. Sign up for our newsletter to learn more about our members, advanced energy news and upcoming events. Also, if you’re not already a member, become a member today!