Season 3: Building business resilience

Laurence Kemball-Cook Founder and CEO of Pavegen

How to build business sustainability and resilience  

“No matter what storm hits UK startups next, businesses with a strong ESG focus will be the winners” 

There is no doubt that the recent climate events in Europe have struck a chord. Record temperatures in our cities and at our holiday destinations have put climate change back to the top of the agenda. 

For the most part, corporations and governments however have put forward bold goals and objectives for 2030. At COP 27, one of the key takeaways was the promise to hold businesses accountable to their environmental policies and foster transparency across all industries and sectors. 

When it comes to climate change, our cities are at the front line. Issues like mass migration linked to climate change are more prevalent in urban environments and the heat island effect maximises even further the environmental struggles we face. Buildings, infrastructure, and people are the most important elements that need to be addressed to positively affect our planet. 

The benefits of an ESG-driven approach 

At the ULI Asia Pacific Technology and Innovation Conference in Korea, Partner of the largest real estate VC, Fifth Wall, Yvon Voon, said that green buildings have an asset value up to 21% more than standard buildings. This shows the importance for corporations and developers to own and occupy this innovative new class of buildings and represents opportunities for startups in this sector. 

Companies embracing ESG-driven approaches often achieve long-term profitability and financial outperformance. By integrating ESG principles, they effectively mitigate risks and seize opportunities, ensuring sustainability over time.  

For example, prioritising energy efficiency and sustainability reduces operational costs, enhances the bottom line, addresses social issues, and fosters a positive work culture. This improves employee satisfaction and productivity, leading to enhanced financial success. 

Innovative solutions that combine employee satisfaction, well-being, and ESG principles are transforming the workplace, exemplified by a project we delivered called “The Quayside”, a multi-use office building in Hong Kong.  

This cutting-edge workspace features a Pavegen running track, harnessing kinetic energy from footsteps to generate renewable energy. The track not only builds sustainability but also fosters a culture of employee well-being and engagement. As employees walk or run on it, they actively contribute to the company’s sustainability journey, aligning with ESG principles and enhancing job satisfaction and overall well-being. 

The future of UK Start-ups 

The outlook for the UK startup ecosystem is shaped by the growing emphasis on ESG principles. As businesses and investors alike recognise the importance of sustainability and ethical practices, startups that prioritise a strong ESG focus are set to gain a serious competitive advantage. 

Investors are increasingly seeking ventures that align with their values and demonstrate a commitment to making a positive impact on the environment and society. Therefore, startups that integrate ESG considerations into their core strategies are likely to attract a broader pool of socially conscious investors, leading to increased access to funding and capital. In turn, this enables them to scale and grow their businesses sustainably. 

As a result, startups with a strong ESG focus are not only better positioned to weather storms and uncertainties but also thrive as leaders in a responsible and sustainable business landscape. 

Businesses that focus on ESG 

Businesses whose main goal is ESG hold paramount importance in today’s business landscape. These organisations prioritise sustainability, ethical practices, and positive social impact as integral components of their core business strategies.  

By placing ESG at the heart of their operations, they demonstrate a commitment to addressing pressing global challenges. One example of this is carbon accounting companies, like Sage Earth and Plan A, which are instrumental in the ESG conversation.  

These innovative ventures provide essential tools and services for businesses to accurately measure and manage their carbon footprints, identifying areas for improvement, and setting ambitious sustainability targets.  

By aligning operations with ESG principles and taking proactive steps to reduce carbon emissions, these platforms foster transparency and accountability. This empowers investors and stakeholders to make informed decisions based on a company’s environmental performance. 

In a world where climate change is a pressing concern, the contribution of carbon accounting companies is indispensable in driving business sustainability and resilience, ensuring a more sustainable future for both companies and the planet. 

The importance of sustainable buildings and cities 

Essential ESG principles extend beyond individual businesses; they play a vital role in shaping the sustainability and resilience of entire buildings and cities. As urbanisation continues to accelerate, the need to create environmentally conscious and socially responsible spaces becomes increasingly urgent.  

ESG considerations in urban design and construction are crucial for reducing carbon footprints, minimising resource consumption, and promoting energy efficiency. Buildings that incorporate renewable energy sources, green technologies, and sustainable materials not only contribute to mitigating climate change, but also help optimise operational costs over the building’s lifecycle. 

In Washington DC, a Pavegen walkway implemented in a busy commuter street exemplifies this change. The innovative solution creates a culture of sustainability among residents while generating clean energy to power LED streetlights. The Pavegen technology serves as an interactive platform, engaging and educating the public about the importance of sustainable living.  

This installation represents a ground-breaking leap towards ESG-driven urban environments. It highlights the critical role cities play in combating climate change as major contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions. 

Final thoughts 

The future of business sustainability and resilience relies on embracing ESG principles. Recent climate events in Europe serve as a stark reminder of the urgency to act. UK startups can gain a competitive edge by prioritising ESG, attracting socially conscious investors, and contributing to a sustainable business landscape.  

Sustainable buildings and cities are crucial for reducing carbon footprints and enhancing overall quality of life. Embracing ESG is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic advantage for businesses, nurturing success while positively impacting the planet and communities they serve. 

Finally, ESG-focused companies objectively contribute to a more sustainable and resilient world. But they also inspire and drive positive change across industries, setting a precedent for others to follow in creating a more equitable, environmentally responsible, and prosperous future.