Sustainability reporting: an opportunity to realise new profits
The quest to achieve carbon neutrality is creating countless opportunities for businesses. “At times like these, good reporting is crucial as a basis from which to launch well-reasoned and broadly supported improvement projects”, says Serge de Gheldere, CEO at Futureproofed, part of Sweco. “In fact, for many businesses, this type of reporting will soon become mandatory.”
Why is it so important that businesses kick into gear now in terms of carbon reporting?
“In January 2025, the new European directive on sustainability reporting — officially known as the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) — will come into effect. This directive will make it mandatory for large, listed companies to report on their ESG performance — and that includes a carbon report covering their entire supply chain.”
“Which is to say, you will no longer be able to stop at the emissions generated by your own processes and vehicles; you will also need to take stock of the total impact of your production methods, and even the use of your products. You will also be required to link objectives and actions to that. In other words, sustainability will no longer be voluntary and optional.”
“What’s more, we are convinced that businesses intrinsically stand to gain from this. After all, we’re at the dawn of a new era in which the effects of climate change are making themselves felt more and more keenly. Businesses who have been able to profit from fossil fuels for several decades now face a moment of reckoning: a new industrial revolution is just around the corner. And those who see this as an opportunity instead of a threat stand the greatest chance of making this work to their advantage.”
Sustainability will no longer be non-committal and optional.
Serge de Gheldere, CEO at Futureproofed, part of Sweco
What might these advantages look like?
“When, as a business, you’re able to deliver the same or better products and services with less fossil fuel mileage, less square footage, less power and less water, that’s clearly an advantage. From that perspective, there is huge potential for businesses to optimise their operations, enabling them to reduce their impact while growing their profits.”
“As a bonus, pursuing this avenue also leaves you less exposed to risk. To name the first example that comes to mind, there are the sanctions for businesses who fail to comply with the CSRD. Elsewhere, there’s the additional risk of investors pulling out if your business remains too dependent on fossil fuels. Climate change even presents major risks in terms of your supply chain: just think back to the huge losses companies racked up when ships were no longer able to navigate the Rhine due to the water level being too low.”
“Besides, the new needs created by the transition to a sustainable economy and society offer a rich new vein of business opportunities. One great example are solar panels, electric vehicles, heat pumps and other devices, all of which need to be able to ‘talk’ to one another to ensure they use green energy as efficiently as possible and keep peak consumption as low as possible. And ultimately, the efforts you make in terms of sustainability and your transparency in this field also have a positive impact on the brand image of your business.”
How can Futureproofed play a role in this?
“Futureproofed has been around for over two decades, and it has spent a significant chunk of that working as a consultant helping city councils and businesses facilitate sustainability projects. Six years ago, we used all that experience to develop a software platform that is now being used by around 140 city councils. Then, two years ago, we launched a similar platform for business to use to calculate their carbon emissions. And because we’re part of engineering consultancy firm Sweco, we not only benefit from clear strategic oversight and the associated software, but we’re guaranteed to be able to find someone among our 21,000 employees across Europe with in-depth know-how surrounding specific challenges and projects.”
“Implementing projects is our bread and butter. As a result, our people can help you draw up plans that are more realistic and more broadly supported. On top of that, this enables us to offer a much wider range of services, from reporting and high-level strategy and from engineering to project management. Our platform integrates all these aspects, underpins your objectives and strategy based on the full scope of knowledge we possess and simplifies the entire process. And that’s what makes us unique.”
© Joris Hendrickx for Mediaplanet