Sustainable initiatives drive growth

Improved productivity, lower costs, a strong image and a platform for competitive advantage – these are just some of the benefits of running a sustainable business.

Compelling research by NZI shows that those who run a sustainable business (taking into account environmental, social and economic factors), are twice as likely to grow as those not engaged.

Despite this, one third of kiwi businesses aren’t embracing sustainable practices.

Donna Williams, NZI’s general manager of Customer Experience and Marketing, and a regular on the judging panel for the annual NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards, says there’s still more work to be done to help more companies get on board.

“The survey shows most businesses want to be more sustainable, but lots don’t completely understand what it means and are putting the concept in the ‘too- hard’ basket.”

Chief executive of the Sustainable Business Network, Rachel Brown says cost is the main barrier to starting the sustainable journey, which is ironic considering reduced costs is actually one of the main benefits.

“For those less involved with being sustainable, it’s about allaying fears regarding costs and for those more proactive, the sense is it’s simply about helping them activate a vision already central to their business.

“Sustainable businesses do well financially, and shareholders and staff are happy – it’s a positive outcome for all involved.”

There are signals from Government for stronger policies and greater investments that will see sustainability in areas like climate change, renewables, public transport and circular economy receive greater attention.

Donna says businesses already operating in this space will benefit as a result. “It’s time businesses embrace sustainable practices otherwise they’re going to be left behind,” she says.

“The sustainability story needs to be told to unlock growth.”

Case in point – a sustainable business success stories

Bob Burnett Architecture (Christchurch)

Bob is an ardent advocate for energy efficient and sustainable building design. For more than 20 years he has been committed to creating better places for the people of New Zealand.

He designed and funded the development of New Zealand’s first 10-star Homestar rated homes.

Sustainable businesses do well financially, and shareholders and staff are happy – it’s a positive outcome for all involved

This project demonstrates that a warm, healthy, energy positive home is not too expensive to build and can actually have ongoing financial benefits.

Bob founded the Superhome Movement which is now a national, industry-led, not-for-profit initiative that aims to normalise energy efficient, sustainable homes through open source sharing of new technologies, design innovations and building techniques.

He wants to help people understand the link between our suboptimal building code standards, that are 20 years behind other OECD countries, alarming health statistics, and frightening environmental impact.

Building and use of buildings create 30-40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, so low carbon, low energy buildings can have a mammoth impact on climate change.

Bayfair Shopping Centre (Tauranga)

Bayfair Shopping Centre is a global exemplar and passionate advocate for environmental improvement and social justice in retail and business.

Bayfair’s three key environmental impact areas (energy, water, waste) are proactively managed through collaboration and education to create an understanding that small changes daily have the ability to create mega change over time.

The mall has implemented a waste minimisation strategy, has reduced its lighting energy consumption by over 60 percent and has a combined rain and greywater recycling facility servicing its main public amenities.

Bayfair’s alignment to the social change movement, positions it as a model of first class accessibility, maintaining the top rating of Platinum from Be Accessible. The mall has installed charging facilities for electric vehicles and mobility scooters and even has a parking space for dogs.

Bayfair aims to show others that initiating change does not have to come at a high cost, and demonstrates that by making its centre accessible for everyone, it’s sustaining it in the long run.

The centre is currently undergoing plans for an $115 million expansion including 50 new shops.

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