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Best For The World Honorees Work Toward Net-Positive Environmental Impact
This article was originally published by B Lab.
As the climate crisis continues to dominate concerns for the future, with rising global temperatures and recent fires in the Amazon Rainforest, many businesses have begun doing the work to not only slow environmental damage but to, eventually, reverse it and actually help ensure a cleaner planet. These net-positive businesses are conscious of their reliance on the Earth, recognize the impact of their operations, and realize they cannot wait for governments to act to address these global issues.
Through B Corporation certification, businesses must exhibit superior environmental standards, as assessed by the B Impact Assessment (BIA). Several B Corps “vote every day” for a cleaner planet by setting ambitious goals and implementing programs designed to give their business a net-positive environmental impact. B Corps that exemplify this positive work — scoring in the top 10 percent of the BIA — are honored each year as Best For The World.
This year’s honorees include carbon-offset provider NativeEnergy, a B Corp since 2016 and a benefit corporation since 2018. The B Corp works with businesses to mitigate their impact on the planet by taking a look at a company’s entire supply chain to find areas for improvement. NativeEnergy also promotes net-positive practices like regenerative agriculture.
“Almost all of our businesses touch agriculture in some way, and improving the way we cultivate food and materials has compounding benefits for the climate, biodiversity, waterways, and the resilience of farming communities around the globe,” says Tom Stoddard, vice president and general counsel at NativeEnergy.
NativeEnergy is not alone in its mission to revitalize the global ecosystem. B Corps Rising Sun Chile and GreenSpark Solar are equally committed to environmental protection. B the Change asked the following representatives from each company to discuss the work they are doing and their recent Best For The World honors:
- Sebastián González, co-founder of Best For The World: Environment honoree Rising Sun Chile, a solar-energy company in Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile;
- Stoddard, VP and general counsel of Best For The World: Governance honoree NativeEnergy, a Burlington, Vermont, carbon-offset project developer and provider;
- And George McConochie, chief operating officer, founder and owner of Best For The World: Changemakers and Environment honoree GreenSpark Solar, a renewable energy company in Ontario, New York.
Learn best practices and impact-management strategies from the Best For The World honorees.
As we face the climate crisis, why do businesses need to be conscious about their impact on the planet and what can they do to improve their impact?
NativeEnergy: It is action we are short on, not possibilities or measurable results. Every single business has a footprint, and each business can direct a portion of its budgets to invest in the landscapes it draws materials from and the communities it relies on for labor.
For example, if you buy cotton, collaborate with B Corps buying cotton to invest in farmers willing to transition to carbon-sequestering cropping practices. Connect with B Corps, large or small, to help build a new renewable energy infrastructure, such as community-scale wind or solar. Almost all of our businesses touch agriculture, and improving the way we cultivate food and materials has compounding benefits for the climate, biodiversity, waterways, and the resilience of farming communities around the globe. Your dollars today catalyze change that can last generations.
Rising Sun Chile: Facing the climate crisis is the major calling of our time. It’s crucial that businesses are conscious and take responsibility of their impact. But being conscious is just the first move; the next and more important step is to take action against that impact by improving systems through education and political action.
For instance, if our business is using a lot of plastic, we need to start by recycling. But more important than that, we need to ask ourselves if we can reduce the plastic we use or change it to another material. To address the climate crisis, we need to combine community consciousness, businesses actions, and lawmaking to establish incentives and rules.
GreenSpark Solar: We all have an important part to play in addressing the climate crisis. Consumers, businesses, and governments need to take rapid, coordinated action. Business must take a leading role in promoting positive change. More companies are realizing that doing right by the planet is economically beneficial for their bottom lines. In New York, we are able to provide clean, locally generated solar energy to businesses and other energy consumers cheaper than any other new form of electricity generation.
There are the complex projects and the simple projects, but all of them are important: Install solar, electrify your energy and transportation, support telecommuting and paperless workplaces, compost everything, support healthy living for your employees, support local B Corps in your community, support local farmers, and share knowledge.
How has being a member of the B Corp community helped your business have a net-positive impact on the planet?
NativeEnergy: As a member of the community, we have both a benchmark and a peer group by which to evaluate what we do well and how we can do better. This year, we took a close look at how to make our supply base more diverse, with a focus on minority- and women-owned businesses. This summer, we offered all employees Friday afternoons off, paid, so they could spend more time outdoors, with family, or doing things they value. Being a member of the B Corp community and a benefit corporation also provides us with a formal backstop for our decision-making — this has helped us maintain our focus on activities that drive long-term value for the climate, the environment, and the communities that businesses rely on.
Rising Sun Chile: Being a member of the B Corp community has allowed us to connect with others working for a positive impact on the planet. Being part of this network simplifies the way to reach our objective of educating the public on the benefits of solar energy and to maximize its use. Being a part of this movement has also helped us realize how many others are doing a positive effort and motivated us to join forces to have a bigger impact; it’s also given us hope that not everything is doomed.
GreenSpark Solar: Being a member of the B Corp community allows GreenSpark to measure our business practices against, and collaborate with, other progressive, innovative businesses to share best practices and continuously improve our net-positive impact on the planet. As a renewable energy company, our entire method of generating revenue is a market-driven solution to combating climate change.
However, there is still much to be done. We strive to reduce our carbon footprint, as we are reliant on global supply chains and fossil-fuel-powered trucks. B Corps set the bar high, making us examine decisions through multiple lenses.
How, specifically, do your business operations address environmental issues and work to ensure a cleaner planet?
NativeEnergy: Our offices source renewable energy, and we purchase offsets to address our greenhouse gas emissions from travel and other activities. As a company, our aim is to take actions that improve the capacity of the globe to sequester or mitigate carbon and other greenhouse gases. Our business model is focused on finding, and helping to build, community-scale projects that both conventional finance and the carbon markets have left behind.
Rising Sun Chile: Our goal is to have a cleaner planet. How do we do this? By maximizing the solar energy on our distribution grid and promoting sustainable education at schools, preparing them for our 21st century challenges. We have developed a unique sustainability program, called “Broteduca,” in which we install a solar system in an establishment and use the savings of the solar energy to finance green projects, like reforestation, sustainable water-system projects and environmental education.
GreenSpark Solar: Our business exists first and foremost as a market-based solution to the climate crisis we are facing. GreenSpark aims to address environmental issues through tangible actions and policies, such as powering our office with a sustainable micro-grid; vetting vendors for environmental practices; installing electric vehicle charging stations at the office; recycling and minimizing waste from job sites; and participating in carbon offset to have a net-zero carbon footprint.
How does being a Best For The World honoree help your business vote every day — and what impact does a “vote” for you company have on the planet?
NativeEnergy: Being an honoree lends weight to the types of actions we are taking and the results we are trying to achieve. As an honoree, companies considering us as a partner can learn how the B Corp community views us, and we believe that helps companies choose to work with us. Together, we are able to expand the carbon reduction capacity of the globe more swiftly, in more places, and with more direct value for businesses.
Rising Sun Chile: To be honored as Best For The World reflects that we are doing our job well. With each vote, we can continue pursuing our goals of having a cleaner planet by maximizing clean solar energy and expanding environmental education.
GreenSpark Solar: “Every day is election day.” The small incremental votes we make each day with where we choose to invest our time, money and energy matter. As a Best For The World honoree, we continue to raise the bar higher for ourselves and our business partners, examining who we wish to support and promote to ensure our dollars are spent in alignment with our greatest mission: producing locally generated clean energy as a cost-effective, market-based solution to combat climate change. A vote for our company means one more home, one more business, one more community has made the transition to a cleaner, more economically and environmentally sustainable future.
B the Change gathers and shares the voices from within the movement of people using business as a force for good and the community of Certified B Corporations. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the nonprofit B Lab.