Businesses today face increased scrutiny over sustainability and corporate social responsibility from both the media and consumers. Social media amplifies these effects, making it increasingly important for corporations not only to produce a quality good or service, but also to do so in a socially conscious manner. Failure to do so can result in anything from public shaming and boycotts to government penalties. In the face of such potential consequences, savvy executives and management teams understand that sustainability needs to be a core tenet of their corporate development strategy.
While there are dozens of ways your business can contribute to a corporate sustainability strategy, an oft-overlooked step towards that goal involves the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging. Adding commercial EV charging stations to employee and customer parking may seem like a small step, but you might be surprised by the many benefits that this action can bring.
Understanding corporate social responsibility and business sustainability
Before diving into the benefits of charging stations, it’s first important to understand the landscape for corporate sustainability as a whole. In particular, there are two terms that have become an integral part of the modern business lexicon:
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is, according to Investopedia, “a self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable—to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. By practicing corporate social responsibility, also called corporate citizenship, companies can be conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society including economic, social, and environmental.”
CSR compels businesses to operate in a fashion that betters both society and the environment, rather than degrading them. Examples of CSR might include:
- Charitable giving
- Decreasing carbon footprint
- Volunteering or giving back to the community
- Investing in socially or environmentally conscious efforts
Business Sustainability is about juggling financial, social, and environmental demands to ensure the creation of a successful and ethical good or service. Sometimes this is also referred to as the triple bottom line and consists of a business strategy that benefits:
In lieu of focusing solely on short-term profits, businesses with an outlook rooted in sustainability instead take a more tempered, long-term approach and make investments that pay dividends over time in the form of better business performance. Some commonly noted benefits of running a sustainable business include better PR, branding, and recruiting.
How EV charging benefits your sustainability strategy
If your sustainability strategy doesn’t include investments in electric vehicles and EV charging infrastructure, it’s time to think about what part these technologies will play in your company’s plan to reduce environmental impact. Even if you start with adding just a few charging stations, the potential benefits are well worth it. These include:
Reduce your carbon footprint
If reducing your carbon footprint lies at the center of your CSR plan, then encouraging employees to use EVs is one of the best ways you can go about achieving that effort. Typically, vehicle emissions can be split into two categories:
- Air pollutants contribute to air quality issues like smog and can cause health issues.
- Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) consist of CO2 and methane, which contribute to climate change.
EVs, which have zero tailpipe emissions, produce far less well-to-wheel emissions compared to their gasoline or diesel running counterparts. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that on average, vehicles produce the following pounds of CO2-equivalent emissions annually:
- Gasoline – 12K lbs. of CO2
- Hybrid – 6K lbs. of CO2
- Plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) – 5.9K lbs. of CO2
- All electric (BEV) – 4.7K lbs. of CO2
For companies with a lot of employees, emissions associated with employee commutes can add up quickly. These emissions fall under the Scope 3 category of the GHG Protocol and any reduction in those emissions can be included in an annual corporate sustainability report. Encouraging employees to give up their ICE vehicles and transition to EVs can make a serious difference in reducing the amount of Scope 3 emissions your company must report, and offering EV charging at the workplace can be one of the best ways to do so. CarMax and CleanTechnica discovered that 72% of electric vehicle enthusiasts surveyed would be more likely to buy a plug-in electric vehicle if their employer offered charging stations. And smart charging features like Enel X Way emission saving tool (currently available in Italy) can help you to easily quantify the cumulative savings to include in your annual report.
Establishes your authority as a socially conscious brand
Adding charging stations to your workplaces demonstrates that your business embraces technologies that make the planet a cleaner and safer place to live. This signals to employees, customers, and business partners that your business seeks to encourage globally responsible behavior and helps to establish your brand as an authority that practices what they preach.
Whether it’s employees or customers, people will start pointing to your business as an example of what to do. You build up trust through your actions. As a result, when you speak, more people will listen.